Lando Norris has been cleared to race in the Belgian Grand Prix after crashing during a wet qualifying session on Saturday.

Norris spun into the barriers at Raidillon in Q3 and was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary X-ray of his elbow.

McLaren later revealed the 21-year-old has been given the green light to get back behind the wheel at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

The team posted on Twitter: "Following precautionary checks after an accident during qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, Lando Norris has been cleared to compete in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix by the trackside doctor and FIA medical delegate."

Norris had been quickest in each of the first two segments of qualifying before spinning off at high speed in challenging conditions.

Max Verstappen nipped in with a magnificent lap to take pole ahead of George Russell, who took a shock place on the front row with a stunning drive.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start the first race following the mid-summer break in third place.

Max Verstappen took pole position at a soggy Belgian Grand Prix – and incredibly it will be George Russell alongside him on the front row.

A stunning final lap from Russell looked set to give the Williams driver a first career pole, but Formula One title hopeful Verstappen pipped him in the closing seconds.

British 23-year-old Russell, who has been tipped for a move to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season, said he was "absolutely buzzing" about his performance, defying the limitations of his car with a supreme drive.

Hamilton took third on the grid and saluted Russell's performance, with Daniel Ricciardo fourth.

The qualifying session was disrupted by heavy rain and a heavy crash for Lando Norris – Ricciardo's McLaren team-mate – which caused a hold-up in Q3 of close to 45 minutes.

Moments before smashing into the barriers, Norris complained about the conditions, and Sebastian Vettel had called for the session to be red-flagged before the crash made it an inevitability. Norris was taken to hospital for a precautionary elbow X-ray.

The drivers returned to the wet track eventually, with Hamilton quick to point out that spray remained a problem. He set an early target of 2:01.552 but Russell producing a stunning lap to go quicker.

Verstappen and Hamilton were both out on the track and chasing the new target as the clock ran down, with only the former able to achieve that.

After three weeks since the last race, the Hungarian Grand Prix, this was a return to the thrills and spills of the sport.

"I'm super happy to have a qualifying like this after the break and to have a pole position again," said Verstappen.

Russell has been on the front row once before, but that came in a Mercedes when he stood in for Hamilton last season at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He said getting out of Q1, the initial stage of the qualifying session, had been his primary target at Spa, with anything else a bonus.

"The car was feeling great and I had so much confidence," Russell said. "I was in a fortunate position where I had nothing to lose. We were in Q3 which is not the norm for us and we just had to go for it.

"I'm buzzing, absolutely buzzing. Tomorrow's the important one but it's been mega today. I'm delighted for everyone. If the weather is the same and it's there for the taking tomorrow, we'll go for it."

Hamilton, who edged ahead of Verstappen in the drivers' standings by finishing second in Hungary, said it had been "a very difficult day for everyone" due to the inclement weather.

"Well done to Max and to George," Hamilton added. "If it's like this tomorrow it's going to be tricky to balance straight line speed and downforce."
 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:59.765
2. George Russell (Williams) +0.321secs
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.334
4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.099
5. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.170
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.399
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +2.347
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +2.737
9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +3.748
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) no complete lap in Q3

Valtteri Bottas and George Russell on Thursday stated there was "no news" of who will partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff this week affirmed his desire to finalise his driver line-up for 2022 in September.

Williams driver Russell stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year after the seven-time Formula One world champion tested positive for coronavirus.

The 23-year-old Brit also conducted a Pirelli tyre test for Mercedes ahead of the mid-season break, adding further fuel to suggestions he could take Bottas' seat.

Bottas and Russell were paired for media conference duties ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, with neither driving giving much away over their futures.

"There's no news to share yet,” said Bottas. "Maybe I know something, maybe I don't but like I said there's no news to share."

 

Russell said: "No news to share at this stage.

"There's obviously been discussions over the summer break, but there's nothing to announce one way or another this weekend, and probably not next weekend either to be honest, which I think is no problem. Do things right, rather than quickly, let's say.

"I think we're both fortunate that we're both looked after in ways by Mercedes and we both trust them to look after our futures, one way or another.

"From my side, speaking for myself, there's no real problems and whether it's tomorrow, whether it's after Abu Dhabi, I guess you have to trust the people that are looking out for you."

Fernando Alonso has secured a second season with Alpine after the two-time Formula One champion impressed team bosses on his return to the cockpit.

After two years out of F1, Alonso has had eight top-10 finishes in 11 races of this season to date.

His and the team's best results came in the Hungarian Grand Prix last time out, where Alonso took fourth place and Esteban Ocon won the race.

Alpine, who previously competed as Renault, said in a statement on Thursday: "Alpine is pleased to announce that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will continue in its colours for the 2022 season alongside Esteban Ocon.

"The extension of Fernando’s contract signals the continuation of an already strong collaboration, fresh off the back of its historic maiden victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, in which Fernando played a pivotal role."

Alonso believes the 2022 season can be particularly fruitful for Alpine, when a host of technical regulations are introduced that may lead to closer competition between the teams.

 

The 40-year-old Spanish driver said: "I'm very happy to confirm the contract extension with Alpine into 2022. I felt at home the moment I returned to this team and have been welcomed back with open arms.

"It's been a tricky season for everyone, but we've shown progress as a team and the result in Hungary serves as a good example of this progression. We're targeting more positive memories for the rest of this season but also crucially from next year onwards with the new regulation changes coming into Formula One.

"I have been a big supporter of the need for a level playing field and change in the sport and the 2022 season will be a great opportunity for that. I am looking forward to the rest of this year and racing alongside Esteban in 2022 for Alpine."

Alonso has competed in 322 F1 races across his career, winning 32 times and finishing on the podium on 97 occasions.

His F1 titles came as a Renault driver in 2005 and 2006, and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said: "He is just as hungry as we are for success and is putting in every effort to translate it to performance.

"For now, however, we need to focus on delivering a strong second half of the year, extract the maximum at every race and ensure we finish as high up in the constructors' standings as possible. This will put us in a golden position for next year and the significant opportunity it brings."

The 2021 Formula One title race was just hotting up as a four-week break frustratingly put the season on hold.

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton was trailing challenger Max Verstappen through nine races this year, the last three of which the Red Bull driver won.

But back-to-back dramatic races at Silverstone and the Hungaroring put Hamilton back in the ascendancy.

Verstappen crashed out in an incident involving Hamilton at the British Grand Prix and then could only finish ninth at the Hungarian GP following another early collision.

Tempers frayed between the two races, with the Dutchman furious with Hamilton's role at Silverstone.

A pause in the campaign might have allowed the pair to settle just a little, though, before the action resumes at the Belgian GP on Sunday.

Ahead of an event where Verstappen always enjoys significant support, he said: "I am of course excited to go back to Spa.

"It's my favourite track and it's really cool to drive with so many high-speed corners and elevation changes.

"I'm also looking forward to seeing all the fans who will be coming to support us, and it will be cool to see so much orange in the grandstands again as they couldn't be there last year.

"I also think it is a good place to reset our championship fight and I'm well prepared and feeling good ahead of the weekend."

LAST TIME OUT

Verstappen would have hoped to quickly put the British GP behind him in Hungary, still leading the championship as he lined up on the grid.

But another early flashpoint, this time involving Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas among a host of other drivers, took the Red Bull superstar out of contention.

Although the red flag was soon waved, Verstappen could only recover to finish ninth.

Hamilton's woes centred instead on team tactics, as an apparent error from Mercedes had him back in last place for a time.

Yet another stunning drive took the Briton to third, though, and Sebastian Vettel's disqualification from second boosted Hamilton further up the standings.

Esteban Ocon claimed an unlikely win, but much of the focus remained on the top two in the title race.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN BELGIUM

Fireworks, if the past two races are anything to go by.

Verstappen will surely hope just to get through the first few laps without contact on Sunday, with Red Bull's sensational race pace disrupted by his repeated involvement in crashes.

All this drama has suited Hamilton rather well, meanwhile, with the Mercedes man frustrated by the Silver Arrows' deficit to their rivals prior to those outings.

Perhaps the break will have allowed Mercedes to make up some of that gap, but Hamilton has not sounded hopeful for much of this year. He is on 99 F1 wins, bidding to become the first man to three figures.

The 36-year-old is not the only Mercedes man at the centre of attention, though, as Toto Wolff is yet to confirm their second driver for 2022.

Assuming no decision is made before Sunday, George Russell will hope to lay down a marker with a strong performance in a weak Williams, while Bottas also needs a result.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Successive successes? – Kimi Raikkonen was the last driver to win back-to-back Belgian GPs, with three between 2004 and 2007. Hamilton, who has a record six poles at Spa, was the most recent winner in 2020.

Quali so crucial – The past six winners at the Belgian GP have started from the front row of the grid, with five from pole and one from second. This is the longest such streak in the race's history.

Centurion in silver – This would not be Hamilton's first hundred. He was also the first to register 100 pole positions, with that total now 101 heading to Spa.

Finn to finish? – Bottas will aim to get back on track having failed to place in Hungary. Never in his F1 career has he not registered a position in consecutive races, unable to finish in Russia and the United States in 2015 but recording 12th place in the former.

No closer to Kimi – Fernando Alonso is on course to surpass Rubens Barrichello and move second with 323 grand prix appearances. However, Raikkonen's continued F1 career keeps him clear on 341.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 195
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 187
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 303
2. Red Bull – 291
3. McLaren – 163
3. Ferrari – 163
5. Alpine – 77

It is 30 years since the great Michael Schumacher's first race in an incredible Formula One career.

The legendary German driver made his debut at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, a track where his son will showcase his talents this weekend.

Schumacher went on to claim his maiden F1 victory at the same circuit in 1992 and retired with a staggering 91 victories to his name, having claimed seven world titles.

To mark the anniversary of his bow in Belgium, Stats Perform picks out some of the standout numbers Schumacher racked up in an astonishing 19 F1 seasons. 

 

JORDAN'S LOSS IS BENETTON'S GAIN

Schumacher stepped in for his first F1 race for Jordan and impressively qualified in seventh before retiring on the first lap due to clutch problems.

He spent the rest of the season driving for Benetton, picking up four points from six races.

Schumacher won once in each of the next two seasons, then won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995 before making a lucrative move to Ferrari.

 

UNPRECEDENTED DOMINANCE

Schumacher established himself as one of the all-time greats during his decade with Ferrari, claiming his third world title in 2000.

That was the start of an unprecedented period of dominance, as he claimed a record five consecutive world titles.

Schumacher broke Juan Manuel Fangio's all-time record of being crowned world champion five times as he went from strength to strength before Fernando Alonso dethroned him in 2005.

 

 

SCALING NEW HEIGHTS TO SEVENTH HEAVEN

The 2004 season was Schumacher's most dominant as he won 13 of 18 races and was on the podium 15 times.

No driver has bettered that tally of victories for a season, but Lewis Hamilton last year matched Schumacher's haul of seven world titles.

Schumacher amassed an incredible 148 points in 2004 and that was the last time he won the championship.

 

RACKING UP THE RECORDS

Schumacher broke the record for F1 victories and finished with 91, a total Mercedes great Hamilton has gone on to surpass.

The 77 fastest laps set by Schumacher is a record, as is his 15 seasons with a victory and his 17 podium finishes in a season, set in 2002.

His 19 consecutive top-three finishes has never been bettered and nor has his 15 top-two finishes in a row, along with the most hat-tricks (pole, win and fastest lap) achieved by a driver with 22.

Schumacher's 181 races with Ferrari is the record for driving with the same constructor.

 

 

THRIVING IN FRANCE

The French Grand Prix was the race where Schumacher had the most victories, taking the top step of the podium eight times – another record.

He won at Magny-Cours for the first time in 1994 and his final win at the circuit came 12 years later.

Schumacher also holds the record for most poles at the same race with eight in Japan.

The 2021 Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled due to "ongoing complexities" related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Race organisers on Wednesday announced that the event at the Suzuka circuit will not take place for a second successive year.

The COVID-19 crisis pandemic prevented the 2020 from being staged and a race due to be staged on October 10 has also been called off.

A statement from Formula One said: "Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country.

"Formula One is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.

"Formula One has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula One events this year and beyond."

The F1 season resumes with the Belgium Grand Prix on August 29, with Lewis Hamilton holding an eight-point lead over Max Verstappen at the top of the driver standings.

George Russell will get behind the wheel of a Mercedes this week as speculation around a Formula One promotion persists.

Russell is widely considered to be vying with current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for a seat next season.

And the Williams man will get the opportunity to join the team in Hungary on Tuesday to test the 18-inch tyres that will be used in 2022.

Russell was part of Mercedes' junior driver programme before getting his F1 opportunity with Williams and has tested for the Silver Arrows previously.

The 23-year-old even stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the world champion had tested positive for coronavirus.

A pit-stop mix-up cost Russell the victory on that occasion, but a ninth-placed finish secured his first points.

The Bottas rivalry will draw extra attention to Russell's performance this week, though, coming straight after his best ever result at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Russell finished eighth, earning points with Williams for the first time.

Bottas had started from second after a record-equalling 80th qualifying one-two for Mercedes, but he crashed on lap one in a chaotic start.

Lando Norris saw his 15-race points streak end with a first-lap crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and he took no solace in an apology from the man who started the chain reaction. 

Valtteri Bottas failed to time his braking in Turn One and hit Norris, sending the McLaren driver into Max Verstappen as Bottas continued on to take out the other Red Bull car driven by Sergio Perez. 

While Norris was able to remain on the track and reach the pits, his team determined he had suffered too much damage to continue, leaving the Briton frustrated with his early exit. 

Bottas also was forced to retire, along with Perez, and the Finn apologised to Norris afterward. 

“I had a poor start,” Bottas said. “Wheelspin off the line, and lost places, and then braking into first corner I was right in the gearbox of Lando and I just locked the wheels.

"So probably being that close didn’t calculate quite right the braking point, locked two wheels, hit him, and then it was a mess.”

It was a mess that left the other two drivers knocked out of the race furious. Perez called it a "big mistake" on Bottas' part and feared another engine loss due to the damage incurred. 

Norris had no time for Bottas saying he was sorry for the wreck. 

“There’s not much to say is there?" Norris said. "It’s not my fault, like, to be honest he [Bottas] just came over to me then and apologised – but apologies are nice, but it doesn’t change the result or anything, so it’s Lap 1 of the race, no one has to do anything stupid but that’s what they did today. So just ruined it.”

With his pursuers Bottas and Perez also knocked out, Norris remained a distant third in the championship standings as leader Verstappen slipped into second behind Lewis Hamilton following a 10th-place finish. 

Lewis Hamilton explained that he is still feeling the after-effects of coronavirus after producing an incredible fightback at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who started on pole as he chased a 100th Formula One race win in his stellar career, had to charge up the field after a mistake following a restart – a red flag having come out after Valtteri Bottas caused an early crash.

Five drivers were forced to retire early, with Bottas handed a five-place grid penalty for the next grand prix in Belgium at the end of August, but by the time the remaining competitors had finished a formation lap, the rain which had been around at the start had cleared and the track was dry.

Hamilton, however, elected not to change his tyres, so started on his own from the grid while the others pitted. By the time he had rectified his mistake he was last, but a mighty effort saw him clinch third place behind Sebastian Vettel and unlikely winner Esteban Ocon.

The seven-time world champion now leads Max Verstappen, who finished 10th after suffering damage in the earlier crash, in the standings, though Hamilton was handed a further boost late on Sunday when Vettel was retrospectively disqualified for not having enough fuel left in his car at the end of the race. Aston Martin announced they plan to appeal that decision.

However, during the podium presentation, Hamilton looked visibly exhausted and even struggled to hold up the bottle of champagne handed to him. He then saw Mercedes' team doctor and missed some of his post-race media duties.

"I'm ok, had real big dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium," Hamilton, who contracted COVID-19 in December last year, told a news conference.

"I've been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it's still a battle.

"I haven't spoken to anyone about it, but I think [the effects of covid are] lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training has been different since then. The level of fatigue you get is different and it's a real challenge.

"I continue to train and prepare the best way I can. Today, who knows what it is? Maybe it's hydration, I don't know, but I've definitely not had this experience. Had something similar at Silverstone but this is way worse."

When asked why he did not to pit at the end of the formation lap, Hamilton said: "Through the formation lap I was just giving the team information. I mean, it was dry through all the corners and I kept telling them 'it's dry, dry, dry, dry' but they said just to stay out.

"I don't really understand but I'm sure it's definitely a mistake from us all but we win and lose as a team and we bear the burden of the mistake together and we just keep fighting, so the team did an amazing job with the strategy, with pitstops, and I just had to make it work out there."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the team – who now lead the constructors' championship – made the right call, however.

"To be honest, I think we did absolutely the right thing," said Wolff. "As a leading car it's always difficult to take the decision.

"These things can happen – I stand absolutely behind the decision to stay out – and that's why I'm fine."

Sebastian Vettel has lost his second-place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix off the four-time world champion, who was also reprimanded for wearing an LGBTQ+ T-shirt during the national anthem.

Esteban Ocon was the shock winner of a thrilling race on Sunday, with Vettel coming in second ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who fought back from last place to take third and leapfrog Max Verstappen at the top of the championship standings.

A dramatic grand prix started with a crash on Turn One, caused in wet conditions by Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who, along with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Lando Norris (McLaren) was forced to retire from the race.

Hamilton, initially on pole, then dropped back to 14th after he chose not to change his tyres after the formation lap, with the track having dried off while the race had been suspended.

Though Hamilton hit back, overcoming Fernando Alonso in an epic 10-lap tussle before nipping ahead of Carlos Sainz, the seven-time world champion could not get close enough to Vettel.

However, the Briton now takes second place after all, with Vettel, who parked his car on the cool-down lap before heading back to the podium, retrospectively disqualified.

F1's technical regulations state that competitors must ensure a 1.0 litre sample of fuel can be taken from the car at any time.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer had to refer Vettel to the stewards after technicians only managed to retrieve a 0.3l sample.

"After the race it was checked on car number 05 whether a 1.0 litre sample of fuel could be taken from the car," read Bauer's statement. "It was possible to take only a 0.3 litre sample following the procedures laid out in Article 6.6.4 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations.

"Therefore I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration, as this is not in compliance with Article 6.6.2 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations."

Vettel's disqualification also means Sainz takes third place, while Hamilton gains a further two points in the championship standings, with Verstappen rising one place to ninth.

Before the race, Vettel wore a rainbow T-shirt bearing the slogan "same love" during the Hungarian national anthem.

Vettel showed support for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the weekend. The Hungarian government recently introduced fiercely criticised legislation, which has included banning gay people or items seen as promoting homosexuality from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s. Last year, the country's government passed laws that prevent same-sex couples from adopting children and ended legal recognition for gender changes.

Vettel, along with Sainz, Bottas and Stroll, who were wearing "We Race As One" T-shirts, were all reprimanded for keeping the clothing on during the Hungarian national anthem.

FIA guidelines say drivers must "remove their T-shirts and move to their name card position for the national anthem, wearing their race suits".

All four drivers faced the stewards, with a statement confirming: "[Each] driver explained that he forgot to take off the WRAO t-shirt in time during the national anthem because of the onset of rain."

"I'm happy if they disqualify me. They can do whatever they want to me, I don't care," Vettel told Sky Sports prior to the FIA statement.

Mercedes will learn from a costly mistake at the Hungarian Grand Prix according to Lewis Hamilton, who will have to wait a while longer to win his 100th Formula One race.

In a thrilling race on Sunday, Hamilton – who is on 99 career victories – had to charge up through the field just to claim a podium finish at a track where he has won on eight previous occasions.

Hamilton started in pole position, yet a crash at Turn One caused by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who has been handed a five-place grid penalty for the next event in the season, resulted in the need for the red flag.

Max Verstappen, Hamilton's championship rival, was involved, though the Red Bull driver managed to continue – albeit in a heavily patched up car.

Five other drivers, including Bottas, were not so fortunate, but upon the restart, Mercedes made an error when they advised Hamilton more rain was scheduled to arrive at the Hungaroring. 

However, the skies had cleared and the track had already dried up. With every other remaining driver electing to switch to dry tyres, Hamilton was left as the only car on the starting grid.

Mercedes realised the situation quickly but, by the time Hamilton had pitted, he was stuck last in 14th place, forcing him to battle his way back to secure a quite remarkable third place, behind maiden F1 race winner Esteban Ocon and veteran campaigner Sebastian Vettel.

"Today was definitely tough, we always make it difficult for ourselves," said Hamilton, who looked visibly exhausted on the podium.

"It's crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start, but these things happen and we learn from them. I gave it everything, and I had nothing left at the end.

"I was telling the team how the track was through the formation lap, but they said rain was coming when I got back in the car, so I thought they had other information. I then saw everyone diving in [to the pits].

"We came in this weekend and didn't know how it was going to go and considering the circumstances today, I'll take it."

Hamilton and Mercedes at least had a better race than Red Bull. Sergio Perez was one of the drivers to crash out, along with Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll and Lando Norris, while Verstappen just scraped into the points in 10th.

It means Hamilton now holds a six-point lead over Verstappen at the top of the drivers' standings, while Mercedes also top the constructors' championship heading into an extended mid-season break, with the next race – in Belgium – scheduled for August 29.

"Again, taken out by a Mercedes, it's not what you want. From then on, I was missing the whole side of my car, the floor was damaged as well, it was almost impossible to drive to be honest. I still tried my best and I scored one point, it is at least something, but of course not what you want," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"No, it's not [a reset]. These moments, they're just disappointing but I know that when we go again after the break I will be there again. I hope my car is going to be competitive, we'll find out.

"It's a lot of freak moments at the moment that have cost us a lot of points. We will never give up, we have to focus on ourselves, we'll keep pushing and see where we end up."

Ocon, meanwhile, was overjoyed to seal his first ever F1 race triumph. The 24-year-old Frenchman secured Alpine's maiden victory under its new name, and its first as a team since Kimi Raikkonen won the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

"What a moment," Ocon said. "We've had some difficult moments this season, but we are back where we belong.

"Sebastian put me under big pressure but we managed to keep him off, so it's a great moment."

Lewis Hamilton was denied a 100th Formula One race win but charged up from last to finish on the podium in a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix, leapfrogging championship leader Max Verstappen in the process.

There was chaos from the off at the Hungaroring, where Esteban Ocon triumphed to hand Alpine an unlikely victory.

Like two weeks ago at Silverstone, the race was suspended after a collision at Turn One. Unlike on that occasion, Hamilton – who started in pole has he hunted a record ninth win in Hungary – was not involved, but Verstappen was.

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was at fault, with five drivers forced out in total. 

Verstappen survived, albeit with a damaged car, and an apparent mistake from Mercedes after the restart sent Hamilton down from first to last.

Yet the seven-time world champion battled back, leaving Verstappen – who just scraped into the points – well in his wake as he took top spot in the championship standings while Ocon celebrated a maiden F1 success.

After the furore at Silverstone, the pre-race build-up was dominated by talk of possible danger at Turn One, and so it came as little surprise when, in wet and greasy conditions, Bottas failed to judge the timing of when to brake.

Bottas, who was given a five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc were all out by the time the red flag was raised, with Lando Norris, on a 15-race streak of finishing in the points, also unable to continue.

There was more drama to come. After the restart formation lap, only Hamilton started from the grid, with all other 14 drivers choosing to switch tyres as the rain eased off and the track dried.

By the time he had pitted, Hamilton had fallen to last.

The 36-year-old recovered, getting the better of Antonio Giovinazzi before, on the 21st lap, undercutting Verstappen, who was held up by Daniel Ricciardo's sluggish exit from the pit lane.

Hamilton continued his charge up the field, and at one stage it seemed like an incredible victory could be on the cards.

However, his push was held up by Fernando Alonso, who expertly held his own in a thrilling 10-lap tussle.

A frustrated Hamilton finally got beyond his former McLaren team-mate on lap 65, with Carlos Sainz's efforts to hold onto third proving fruitless.

Hamilton's remarkable run stopped there and, though a milestone success on the track where he won his first Mercedes triumph in 2013 alluded him, he has the championship lead.

Alonso's defence ultimately ensured victory for Alpine team-mate Ocon, with Sebastian Vettel holding off Hamilton to seal a second podium finish of the season.

IN THE POINTS

1. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.918 seconds
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.540s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +15.018s
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +15.651s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1:03.614s
7. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1:15.803s
8. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +1:17.910s
9. George Russell (Williams) +1:19.094s
10. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1:20.244s 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 192
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 186
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 300
2. Red Bull – 290
3. McLaren – 163
4. Ferrari – 160
5. Alpine – 75

The Hungarian Grand Prix began in chaotic fashion as five drivers crashed out on Turn One, with championship leader Max Verstappen also heavily affected.

Verstappen was forced to retire early after a collision with Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix, which the Mercedes driver went on to win.

Red Bull were unhappy with the penalty handed out to Hamilton, who made contact with Verstappen at Copse Corner at Silverstone two weeks ago.

This time, it was Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who was clearly at fault on a wet and greasy first turn at the Hungaroring.

He failed to time his braking, clipping Lando Norris, who in turn span into both Red Bulls, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc also caught up in the chaos. 

Verstappen had been in third but slumped down to ninth before heading into the pits and dropping a further four places before the red flag was raised due to debris on the track.

His team-mate Sergio Perez could not continue, with Leclerc, Bottas and Lance Stroll all out of the race.

"I think basically Bottas made a big mistake and took everyone out of the race, it's a big shame. It's a massive loss for us as a team," Perez told Sky Sports.

"I don't know what to say. It's a big mistake, we will leave it up to them [the race stewards]."

Hamilton, who is hunting his 100th F1 race win after clinching pole, escaped unscathed with his lead intact, with the pause to the race at least giving Red Bull the chance to repair Verstappen's car.

However, McLaren were unable to get Norris – who was on a 15-race streak of finishing in the points and had made a fantastic start – back on the track, making it five out of the race in total.

Lewis Hamilton was shocked by Mercedes' superiority in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix as he continued to apply pressure to world championship leader Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

Hamilton closed the gap in the standings to eight points after his controversial win at Silverstone last time out, where a collision between the seven-time world champion and Verstappen on the opening lap led to the latter retiring.

The fallout from that flashpoint has dominated the build-up to this race and Hamilton was booed by spectators after securing pole position for Sunday's race at the Hungaroring.

Valtteri Bottas closed out a Mercedes front row, with that dominance surprising Hamilton given his team have spent much of the season to date grappling with the problem of Red Bull's superior speed.

"Definitely, definitely not," Hamilton said when asked whether he had expected to be faster than Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who qualified fourth.

"This is a track that they’ve been very strong at for a long time. And given the improvements they made earlier on this year, we thought that we obviously closed the gap a little bit in the last race but we thought they would still have a little bit of an edge.

"We saw today that they changed from their big wing to their smaller wing today. Whether or not that’s hampered them, I don’t know but yeah, it was definitely a real surprise to see us have that sort of pace on them. Of course we’re happy with that."

Mercedes are just four points shy of Red Bull in the constructors' standings and Hamilton is glad to have Bottas for company on the front row as he plots the path to what would be the 100th victory of his F1 career.

"Valtteri did an astonishing job, really boosting the team into the front row, which is honestly… I don’t remember the last time we had a front row together," he added.

"So super positive and it's all down to the amazing work back at the factory and the men and women here are doing a phenomenal job and with everything going on around us, in the outside world and everything.

"People are just staying focused and staying centred and I’m really proud of everyone."

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