Lewis Hamilton will hope returning home for the British Grand Prix and a new sprint race format can kickstart Mercedes' faltering challenge in the Formula One title battle.

Round 10 of the 2021 season takes place at Silverstone, a venue where Mercedes have won seven of the last eight races.

Six of those triumphs came for Hamilton and he has a total of seven British Grand Prix wins, having also triumphed there for McLaren in 2008.

That is already a record for most F1 wins at a driver's home circuit and if he can secure an eighth victory, he will match Hungary – which is next on the calendar this year – as his most successful race.

Victory will not come easily, though, with Max Verstappen coming into the event after winning three races in a row for the first time in his F1 career. 

 

The in-form Red Bull star has built an impressive 32-point advantage over Hamilton in the drivers' championship that could have been bigger were it not for his late tyre woe in Baku.

Verstappen has taken one more pole position this year (four) than in the rest of his F1 seasons combined (three).

The constructors' standings are also looking good for Red Bull, who are 44 points clear.

Two straight podiums for Valtteri Bottas have come at a good time as he fights for his Mercedes future, while Sergio Perez – who sits third in the drivers' standings – will want to recover from a ragged race in Austria.

LAST TIME OUT

Verstappen eased to yet another victory at the Red Bull Ring, as he won in front of huge support at the Austrian Grand Prix to complete a triumphant triple-header having won in France prior to the two races at his team's home circuit.

The Dutchman led from start to finish again after claiming pole.

Hamilton's hopes of reeling him in – dismissed as "out of the question" after qualifying – were hindered by another fine drive from Lando Norris, with the Mercedes great starting where he finished in fourth.

Bottas was the big mover, up from fifth to second, benefiting from keeping clear of controversy as numerous drivers – notably including Norris and Perez – tangled in costly fashion.

Norris claimed a superb third despite a time penalty and has now collected points in 14 consecutive races – his longest streak and the best ongoing run in the series. Fernando Alonso in 2007 was the last McLaren driver to enjoy such a stretch.

Carlos Sainz took fifth ahead of Perez, who was hit with two penalties.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AT SILVERSTONE

The new sprint event and revised race weekend format is undoubtedly the most intriguing aspect that will be closely followed at Silverstone.

Qualifying will take place on Friday, which sets the grid for the first-ever sprint race in F1 on Saturday, with all cars to be fitted with soft tyres.

The results of the sprint race, which will last 100km – around 17 laps – will then determine the grid for Sunday.

Points (three for the winner, two for second and one for third) will also be awarded in the sprint race, with drivers getting a free tyre choice for sprint race and the main grand prix.

Practice, meanwhile, will be cut from three sessions to two.

Aside from the new format, Mercedes are bringing an upgrade to the circuit, which Hamilton and Bottas will hope revitalises their fortunes in the battle against Red Bull.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Super Silverstone – This will be the 55th race at the famous circuit, which has held more grands prix in F1 than all but two tracks – Monza (70) and Monaco (67).

Hamilton hope – Having finished fourth in Austria, Hamilton is bidding to avoid finishing two consecutive races outside the podium for the first time since 2017 (Mexico and Brazil).

Pole drought – Mercedes have gone five consecutive races without reaching the pole position in F1, their worst run since 2019 (seven between Hungary and Mexico).

Mercedes misery – Toto Wolff's outfit are winless in their last five GPs, their worst run without a win in the Hybrid Era (since 2014) and as many races without finishing first as in their previous 17.

Red Bull flying high – The team have won six races in 2021 including the last five. The last time they won so many in a season was in 2013, when Sebastian Vettel won the championship for them.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 182
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 150
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 101
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 92

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 286
2. Mercedes – 242
3. McLaren – 141
4. Ferrari – 122
5. AlphaTauri – 48

Toto Wolff believes assessments of Mercedes' season to date have been overly negative, even as Max Verstappen and Red Bull have control of the title race.

The Silver Arrows had Valtteri Bottas second and defending champion Lewis Hamilton fourth at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton is now five races without a win for only third time over a single season since 2014. Red Bull have won all five of those, with Verstappen triumphing in four.

Damage to his car apparently sustained over a kerb at Turn 10 saw Hamilton fall behind both team-mate Bottas and third-placed McLaren man Lando Norris.

But Wolff, despite describing himself as "a sceptical person, cup is half empty rather than half full", tried to look at the positives.

"First of all, the result looked worse than it was in terms of pace," he told Sky Sports. "We were stuck behind the McLaren.

"In terms of pace, we probably could have been there, maybe not enough to win the race but right there, which is a step forward.

"The damage occurred at Turn 10, over the kerb; I don't think he was particularly running too hard over the kerb – it was just the part that fell away.

"We looked at the loads and they were the same as in the laps before, so we need to find out why that happened.

"So, overall, damage limitation? Maybe. I think we're going to go to Silverstone, blow everybody away, finish one-two, 30 seconds in advance of everyone else."

He added: "We're one DNF away from being right there in the constructors' and in the drivers' championship, so this is far from over."

This was not the result Hamilton – still two victories shy of a landmark 100 – would have wanted to celebrate his new two-year contract.

But Wolff said: "The morale is good, but we have to be working on these feelings actively.

 

"If you come from a run of seven world championship titles, everything looks like a defeat, whatever result you have. I think this is a switch in mindset we have to achieve now.

"Today we finished second and fourth, it's not the end of the world. You see how happy the McLaren guys are about their position [P3] and I think we have to just recognise this is a tough, tough championship.

"This is the Formula One world championship and you can't expect every year to cruise away in the sunset.

"We will make everything that's needed to not make Red Bull do exactly that."

Perhaps Hamilton himself could use a more optimistic outlook, rueing "a lot of damage" despite insisting he "wasn't going over the kerb any more than anyone else".

"There were a lot of points lost today," Hamilton said, adding: "I would have been second. I was in second when all of a sudden it obviously broke.

"It would have been an easy second generally, but obviously not able to catch up with the guys ahead."

A home race for the seven-time champion at Silverstone is up next, but Hamilton said: "We're miles away from [Red Bull], so we've got a lot of work to do.

"We need all hands on deck, which I know there already are. They brought a lot of upgrades, clearly, over these last few races, and we haven't brought any.

"We've got to find as much performance as possible, otherwise this will be the result most often."

Max Verstappen eased to yet another victory at the Red Bull Ring in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, completing a triumphant triple-header in front of home support.

The Red Bull superstar and Formula One season leader won for the third week running to stretch his drivers' championship advantage to 32 points over Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen had become the first F1 driver to win three times at this circuit in the previous week's Styrian Grand Prix and led from start to finish again after claiming pole.

Hamilton's hopes of reeling in Verstappen – dismissed as "out of the question" after qualifying – were hindered by another fine drive from Lando Norris, with the Mercedes great starting where he finished in fourth.

Valtteri Bottas was the big mover, up from fifth to second, benefiting from keeping clear of controversy as numerous drivers – notably including Norris and Sergio Perez – tangled in costly fashion.

Verstappen displayed his superior straight-line speed from the outset to disappear into the distance, only to find his early progress checked by Esteban Ocon's crash that prompted a safety car.

The Dutchman – backed by swathes of orange-clad supporters – pulled clear again from the restart but team-mate Perez had more difficulty as he doggedly pursued Norris.

Norris' determination forced Perez off the track in an incident that was subsequently investigated.

Even Red Bull team principal Christian Horner dismissed the clash as "one of those things", but a five-second penalty for Norris was confirmed just as Hamilton passed him, having been held up for 20 laps – already around 10 seconds shy of Verstappen.

Perez's attempts to recover from his early setback saw the Mexican twice earn five-second penalties of his own for nudging Charles Leclerc out of his path.

However, Norris regained his composure in far more impressive fashion, serving his penalty and falling behind Bottas but then attacking Hamilton, getting ahead of the seven-time champion amid Mercedes tyre trouble for a third podium of the year.

MAX MAKING MOST OF HOME COMFORTS

Verstappen now has four wins, six podiums and 139 points at the Red Bull Ring, his best returns at any circuit.

Saturday's pole had seen him make Spielberg – Red Bull's home grand prix – the first track at which he has qualified first twice, following on from last week's effort.

Five victories and four poles have made this is his best season to date, but Verstappen has bigger fish to fry with the title in his sights.

UNLUCKY LANDO STILL THE BREAKOUT STAR

It was hard not to feel for Norris, who so bravely battled against Hamilton and then learned of his penalty for essentially holding his line.

Informed of the punishment, he first replied: "What for?"

Norris added: "What did the guy expect running around the outside?"

Regardless, he had built enough of a buffer to only fall to fourth and recovered to make the podium, meaning the McLaren man has now collected points in 14 consecutive races – his longest streak and the best ongoing run in the series.

Fernando Alonso, in the first 14 races of 2007, was the last McLaren driver to enjoy such a stretch of points returns.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +17.973s
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) +20.019s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +46.452s
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +57.144s
6. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +57.915s
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +60.395s
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +61.195s
9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +61.844s
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1 lap

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 182
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 150
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 101
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 92

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 286
2. Mercedes – 242
3. McLaren – 141
4. Ferrari – 122
5. AlphaTauri – 48

Lewis Hamilton believes even a "step up" on Sunday would see him merely competing for second after ruling out victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton qualified in fourth behind Sergio Perez, surprise 2021 star Lando Norris and championship leader Max Verstappen, who has pole.

Verstappen, who is 18 points clear, won at the Red Bull Ring last week and is the only F1 driver with three victories at his team's home circuit.

Fourth place (Verstappen in 2018) is the furthest back a race winner has triumphed from since Spielberg returned to the calendar in 2014, but Hamilton does not believe such a recovery is possible.

On the weekend he committed to Mercedes until 2023, the Briton believes he is set to tie his longest winless run over a single season (five races – also twice in 2016).

"I don't," Hamilton replied when asked if he thought he could steal a strategic win. "We definitely can't take it to the Red Bulls, obviously. They're just too fast.

"But maybe we can step up, I guess my race now is with the two guys ahead of me – trying to get past them."

He added: "On pure pace, [winning] is definitely out of the question.

"Those guys have got two cars to get through in front, and they've got three-tenths on us. I think they've improved their car again for this weekend.

"So, I would say that's an easy cruise win for Max. I think for us it's to try to see if we can get ahead of Perez and try to limit the damage this weekend."

 

Hamilton at least fared better than two of his former title rivals, with Sebastian Vettel handed a grid penalty for impeding Fernando Alonso in Q2.

Vettel will start from 11th, having qualified in eighth, while Alonso is back in 14th.

"I guess the weekend is over now for us, but nothing we can do," Alonso said.

Ahead of Vettel's expected punishment, which was later confirmed, the Spaniard added: "It will change something for them, but for us it will change everything on the weekend.

"I don't think that Seb could do much more because, inside the car, we are just relying on our engineers, so I guess it was more the team than Seb himself."

Lando Norris described his "epic" second place in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix as one of the best laps he has driven in Formula One.

McLaren are back on the front row for the first time since 2012 after Norris incredibly finished just 0.048 seconds behind Max Verstappen, marginally missing out on a historic pole.

Verstappen became the first F1 driver to win three times at the Red Bull Ring as he beat Lewis Hamilton to victory last time out.

Having also won in France, the Dutchman looks well placed to make it a treble.

He was boosted as his team-mate Sergio Perez qualified third, meaning the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were left in fourth and fifth respectively.

George Russell – reportedly in the running to drive for the German team next year – took a brilliant ninth for Williams on a day of surprises.

Verstappen – unhappy with his team for the position he was put out in the running order in Q3 – could not improve in his second run, giving surprise challenger Norris the chance to come agonisingly close to pole.

But Verstappen has shown impressive form this weekend and it continued with another strong result, even if Norris was understandably attracting the attention after Saturday's session.

"I feel epic!" Norris said to Sky Sports. "It's one of the best laps I've done – I'm really happy with P2, my best qualifying in Formula One.

"One of my best laps in Formula One. It's a good feeling, so I'm looking forward to Sunday.

"It feels pretty cool. After the last race I wanted to take one more step [after qualifying fourth] – but we went two more! 

"It's nice to be in a good position for Sunday. I don't know how far I was off pole, bit gutted I didn't get pole – Sunday will be tough but we did the best job we could."

 

After a third straight pole and his fourth overall in 2021, Verstappen warned victory would not come easily as he looks to extend his 18-point lead in the drivers' standings.

"I think Q3 was pretty bad. Of course I'm happy to be first but not the way we got it," he said.

"Pole again is good. Hopefully we can finish it off on Sunday – it is never straightforward though.

"Softer compounds compared to last week, so it will be tough to manage those in the race but aside from that, we'll just try to focus on our own race and of course, we'll try to win it."

Both Ferraris and Fernando Alonso – who was angry at being held up by Sebastian Vettel in an incident that could result in a grid penalty – all missed out on progression from Q2.

It meant Yuki Tsunoda and Vettel were able to claim seventh and eighth, with Lance Stroll taking the last spot in the top 10 behind the impressive Russell.

Perez claimed third for Red Bull having initially looked poised to start further down the order after his first Q3 run.

"It's been a hard weekend up to now," the Mexican explained. "We have been chasing the balance and just exploring the car.

"It didn't come easy. It was very hard work – harder than you think.

"In the end we got a good lap and we have a good position. I believe we have got a better race car than qualifying."

Six consecutive top-five finishes have put Perez third in the championship prior to the ninth race of the campaign, with Norris fourth in the standings ahead of Bottas and Charles Leclerc.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:03.720
2. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.048s
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.270s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.294s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.329s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.387s
7. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.553s
8. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +0.850s
9. George Russell (Williams) +0.871s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +0.898s

Lewis Hamilton has ended speculation over his Formula One future after signing a new two-year contract with Mercedes.

The seven-time world champion, bidding for a record eighth crown in 2021, is now tied to the German team through the 2023 season, covering the first two campaigns of new regulations which come into force next year.

The 36-year-old has won six of his previous seven drivers' titles with Mercedes, who he joined from McLaren in 2012.

Hamilton only signed a one-year deal for 2021 in February and both he and team boss Toto Wolff had stressed agreeing an earlier deal this time around was a priority.

The Briton is embroiled in a thrilling title scrap with Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who has opened up an 18-point lead in the championship going into the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

 

It is still unclear who Hamilton's team-mate will be for 2022 and beyond.

Valtteri Bottas is languishing fifth in the championship, while George Russell – now with Williams – impressed when he stood in during Hamilton's coronavirus absence at last season's Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell reacted to the news by calling it "great for Mercedes and F1".

After his new deal was confirmed, Stats Perform looked at the data to summarise Hamilton's incredible F1 impact.

LEVEL WITH SCHUMACHER

Michael Schumacher won his seventh and final championship in 2004, a streak of five in a row at Ferrari that saw him surpass Juan Manuel Fangio's previous overall record of five career titles.

All but one of Hamilton's triumphs have come with Mercedes, following a dramatic initial 2008 success at McLaren.

That means he has now gone past Schumacher as the driver to have won the most F1 titles with the same team. The German's back-to-back 1994 and 1995 successes came at Benetton.

The only championship not claimed by Hamilton during his current run, 2016, was picked up by his then Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton has won four in a row, meaning matching another Schumacher best for successive crowns while also claiming the outright record of eight are his targets this season.

WINNING RECORD

In 2020 Hamilton equalled his best single-season return of 11 wins, which he also recorded in each of 2014, 2018 and 2019.

Hamilton is an all-time F1 leader in terms of career race wins (98), poles (100), podiums (171) and points (3,916), having overtaken Schumacher to take top spot in all but the latter category.

Of those race victories, 77 have come with Mercedes, the most any driver has achieved with a single team.

He has led the most races (168) and laps (5,221) in F1 history, while he had finished a record 48 consecutive grands prix in the points until COVID-19 forced him to miss the penultimate race of 2020.

However, as he signs his deal at a time when rival Verstappen is thriving, the Briton is only one GP away from equalling his worst run (five races) without winning in a single season since 2014.

He also had two five-race runs without a win in 2016, the year Rosberg triumphed and the only campaign Hamilton did not win the title in the hybrid era.

Interestingly, Hamilton did set a record in that season as runner-up. He won 10 races and racked up 380 points, both the most ever by a driver who did not go on to win the world title.

DOMINANCE SPANNING DECADES

When he won his first championship in 2008, Hamilton was F1's youngest world title winner at 23 years, nine months and 26 days old. Sebastian Vettel later surpassed that feat in 2010 at 23, four months and 11 days.

Title number seven arrived with Hamilton 35, 10 months and eight days old.

The 12 seasons between his first and most recent titles is the longest span in F1 history, with Schumacher (1994-2004) and Niki Lauda (1975-1984) next on the list.

Lauda edged out Alain Prost in 1984 by half a point in the last of his wins, the only margin narrower than the single point Hamilton beat Felipe Massa by in 2008.

He does not deal in such slender differences nowadays. The 124-point advantage he had over Valtteri Bottas last year stands as Hamilton's biggest personal margin over the driver in second place.

Vettel still holds the most processional title win, going back to 2013 when his Red Bull was 155 points better off than runner-up Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

FAVOURITE RACES

Hamilton has won eight times at the Hungarian Grand Prix, sharing the record for most wins at a single circuit with Schumacher, who triumphed eight times in France.

With seven wins at the British Grand Prix, Hamilton holds the F1 record for most wins at a home race.

Hamilton has also triumphed seven times in Canada, with six wins apiece in China and the United States, which are both among his favourite tracks.

His career victories have come at an astonishing 29 different circuits and 28 different grands prix, highlighting his longevity, and a win in Austria on Sunday would kickstart his pursuit of further records.

Lewis Hamilton has signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes, running until the end of the 2023 Formula One season.

The 36-year-old is chasing a record-breaking eighth world championship this season, having won six of his previous seven with Mercedes, who he joined from McLaren in 2012.

Hamilton confirmed "positive" discussions last month and can now focus fully on attempting to overhaul Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who has opened up an 18-point lead in the drivers' standings after eight rounds of the 2021 season.

"It is hard to believe it’s been nearly nine years working with this incredible team and I'm excited we're going to continue our partnership for two more years," Hamilton said.

"We've accomplished so much together but we still have a lot to achieve, both on and off the track."

This latest prompt renewal is in stark contrast to Hamilton's contract situation for the current campaign.

The compressed 2020 schedule and then Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff both testing positive for COVID-19 contributed to the world champion ending the year out of contract. He did not pen his most recent one-year deal until February.

Lewis Hamilton has signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes, running until the end of the 2023 Formula One season.

Lewis Hamilton is refusing to give up on defending his Formula One title as rival Max Verstappen aims for another triumph in Austria this weekend.

Verstappen became the first F1 driver to win three times at the Red Bull Ring as he raced clear of Hamilton last time out, triumphing by more than 35 seconds despite showboating as he crossed the line at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull and Verstappen return to their home circuit for the next race – the Austrian Grand Prix – and Mercedes, who have typically fared well on the track, will be aiming to drag Hamilton back into contention.

Mercedes are also 40 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' championship, yet when asked if he was having to accept the idea of missing out on the title for the first time since 2016, Hamilton gave a bullish response.

"Well, I don't accept anything," Hamilton told F1's official media channels.

"I think we've still got many races ahead of us and we've got to keep pushing. We're world champions and we can definitely improve if we put our minds to it."

LAST TIME OUT

The Red Bull ring is Verstappen's favourite – in terms of track victories – after his efforts last Sunday.

Having qualified in pole, Verstappen swiftly pulled clear of Hamilton to clinch Red Bull's fourth straight victory – the first time the team has achieved such a feat in the hybrid era.

It was Verstappen's fourth win of 2021, marking his best return in a campaign, though Hamilton, who took the fastest lap, finished second and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas fought off Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull car to clinch a podium place.

Further back, Williams' George Russell had his race cut short by a power unit issue, while Pierre Gasly crashed out following a collision with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPIELBERG

Hamilton is hoping for more support from his team, stating: "If we're not going to develop and improve our car for the rest of the year, this is the result you're going to see, because, as I said, they've [Red Bull] really eked out performance in these last few races, wherever it's been, whether it's been in France with the engine or the new wing, whichever it is."

While Mercedes will look to improve, Red Bull have history firmly in their sights.

Verstappen comes into this contest having become the driver to have won most races at the Red Bull Ring (three), though Hamilton and Bottas are the drivers to have taken the most pole positions (three for each).

Indeed, Verstappen has achieved five podiums and collected 113 points at Spielberg, more than any other circuit in his F1 career, and he is aiming to take more than one pole position at the same circuit for the first time after qualifying in top spot last week.

His Red Bull team-mate Perez is also just one win away from surpassing Pedro Rodriguez as the Mexican driver to have won the most races in F1 (three).

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, will be looking to mark his 34th birthday on Saturday with a good run in qualifying. The four-time world champion is the third-highest driver in the record books in terms of race victories (53) and fourth for pole positions (57).

However, his last time on pole was at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix; that run of 29 races is his second-worst streak to date without starting at the front of the grid, following a 31-race stretch between 2014 and 2015.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Spielberg short of twists and turns – With only 10 turns, seven to the right and three to the left, the Red Bull Ring has the fewest amount of corners of any track currently on the F1 calendar.

Mercedes' miserable run – Mercedes (79) are looking to equal Ferrari (80) as the team with the most one-twos in F1 qualifying, but the German constructor is suffering its worst run without a race win in the hybrid era, with Red Bull triumphing in the last four events.

Bottas far from finished – Should he claim pole, Bottas would equal Kimi Raikkonen as the second Finnish driver to have taken the most pole positions in F1 (18), after Mika Hakkinen (26). He has taken three pole positions at this race in the past, more than any other grand prix in his career (three: 2017, 2018 and 2020).

Leclerc's poor conversion rate – Ferrari's Leclerc has recorded only two wins out of the nine pole positions in his F1 career (22.2 per cent). If he takes pole this time around, but then fails to win, only Rene Arnoux (11.1 per cent, two of 18 pole positions) and David Coulthard (16.7 per cent, two of 12 poles) will have lowest ratio of victories from pole.

Hamilton daunted by his hundred? – With 100 pole positions in his F1 career, Hamilton is two shy of his 100th race victory. However, the Brit is one grand prix away from matching his worst run without winning in a single season since 2014.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 156
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 138
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 96
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 86
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 74

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 252
2. Mercedes – 212
3. McLaren – 120
4. Ferrari – 108
5. AlphaTauri – 46

Lewis Hamilton acknowledged it is "impossible to keep up" with Red Bull right now after Max Verstappen's latest win at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen's third victory in four races – and Red Bull's fourth in a row – dealt another blow to Hamilton's Formula One title defence.

The seven-time champion finished over 35 seconds behind Verstappen, who was never under threat after taking pole at the Red Bull Ring.

The Dutchman became the first driver to win three times at the circuit, a home race for Red Bull.

Four victories in 2021 make this Verstappen's best season to date, too, and Hamilton – now only one race shy of his longest single-season winless run in the Hybrid Era (five, twice in 2016) – did not enjoy his distant view of proceedings.

"It was a bit of a lonely race, really," the Briton said on the podium, having finished second.

"I was trying to keep up with those guys, but the speed they have, they've obviously made some big improvements over the last couple of races. It's impossible to keep up.

"I don't know where we're losing all the time, but their long runs seem to be a bit better, they seem to be able to continue putting out those laps.

"Obviously, on the straight, we lose a lot, or it feels like we lose a lot down the straights.

"Nevertheless, we got good points as a team today and we've just got to keep pushing."

 

Asked how concerned he was by Red Bull's performance, Hamilton replied: "I try not to concern myself with it.

"They're just faster than us. There's not a lot that I can do, in that respect. I've just got to try to do the best job I can next weekend.

"We need to find some performance. We need an upgrade of some sort."

Next weekend sees the teams back at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix, the third leg of a triple-header. Verstappen has won the first two.

"That's very positive, but of course we have to show it again next week," Verstappen said.

"We'll definitely have a look at what we can do better. I'm looking forward to next week.

"It's looking really good. We just have to keep on going, keep pushing really hard, and I'm confident that we can do a good job again."

It was suggested Verstappen has never had an easier drive and he responded: "You never know, of course, how it's going to end up, but straight away I felt good balance on the car.

"It was good to manage the tyres basically from the start. It felt like at the end I had tyres left.

"They pitted one lap earlier than us, we reacted to that and kept on going, trying to hit our lap times. That worked really well today."

Max Verstappen avoided any drama as he secured a record-setting third win at the Red Bull Ring to pull further clear at the top of the drivers' championship.

Verstappen's fourth victory of 2021 – his best return in a single Formula One campaign – gave Red Bull a weekend to remember at their home track at the Styrian Grand Prix.

This triumph never appeared under serious threat, however, as Verstappen started from pole and quickly pulled clear of defending champion and title rival Lewis Hamilton.

With Sergio Perez victorious at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix between two prior Verstappen successes, Red Bull have four straight victories for the first time in the hybrid era ahead of a return to this circuit next week for the Austrian Grand Prix, the third leg of a triple-header.

As Verstappen quickly escaped Hamilton's attention, major incident was reserved for further back in the field.

Hamilton was also in the clear despite an early battle between Perez and Lando Norris behind him. Norris won that tussle but offered little defence when Perez attacked again, also letting Valtteri Bottas through as McLaren focused on outlasting Ferrari.

Red Bull expertly executed an undercut in the previous race to give Verstappen the edge over Hamilton, but a poor pit stop cost Perez this time.

He dropped behind Bottas, who was swiftly called in to ensure he emerged on fresh tyres with an advantage still intact.

Hamilton was followed in by Verstappen, whose lead was so significant the Mercedes man could scarcely see the back of his opponent as he exited the pit lane.

He never got any nearer, with Verstappen showboating as he crossed the line well clear of any competition.

Hamilton at least took the fastest lap and Bottas held off Perez in a tense scrap after both men pitted once more, giving Mercedes two drivers on the podium.

LEWIS BEING LEFT BEHIND

Such was Verstappen's advantage with still more than 10 laps remaining that Hamilton appealed to his team radio for guidance.

The seven-time champion knew he had no chance of cutting the gap to Verstappen but understandably did not much like the idea of settling for second.

Only twice in the hybrid era (both in 2016) has Hamilton previously gone more than four races – his current winless run – without a victory in a single season.

WILLIAMS WOE ONCE MORE

Hamilton at least enjoyed a better outing than the man who could eventually become his Mercedes team-mate.

George Russell was running in eighth after early contact between Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly caused chaos and ended the latter's afternoon.

All was going so uncharacteristically well for Williams as Russell piled pressure on seventh-placed Fernando Alonso, already on course for a career-best finish.

Then a power unit issue kept Russell in the pit lane for an extended period. A second stop to treat the same problem set the Williams man back further and a third visit was his last, cutting his race short on another frustrating day.

Valtteri Bottas has hit out at the three-place grid penalty he was given for the Styrian Grand Prix, insisting "everyone tries to screw you" in Formula One.

The Mercedes driver qualified second at the Red Bull Ring, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but will have to start the race in fifth due to a penalty he received before the session.

Bottas spun his car in the pit lane in FP2 on Friday after leaving his pit box in second gear, leading to a punishment from the race stewards for "potentially dangerous driving".

Pole-sitter Max Verstappen and Hamilton will therefore occupy the front row for the first of two consecutive races in Austria.

A penalty was the last thing Bottas needed in a 2021 campaign where he is yet to finish in the top two and facing pressure for his seat amid speculation George Russell could replace him next year.

Since F1 returned to Spielberg in 2014, the eventual race winner has started on the first two rows in all eight races held, while on six of those occasions the victor came from the front row.

"My personal view is [that it's] quite harsh," Bottas said about his potentially costly punishment.

"I never imagined after that that there would be a penalty but of course other teams, when they see the opportunity, they complained that it was dangerous so that we would get penalised. 

"That's how it goes, so everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport. 

"I mean yes, it can be a dangerous situation if there's many people in the pit lane but no..."

 

Bottas has strong previous form at the Red Bull Ring, with his impressive display in qualifying to beat the time of Hamilton coming at a circuit where he has more poles (three) than at any other in the sport.

The Finn knows overtaking is difficult in Spielberg but hopes he will be able to join Verstappen and Hamilton at the front. 

"I don't think it’s the easiest," Bottas said when asked about overtaking, with Hamilton, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez promoted ahead of him in the grid order.

"The middle sector, the high-speed corners and the last two corners is a tricky part to follow closely.

"But there's long straights and, if you have the pace, if you have the right strategy for sure we can move up – and that's of course going to be the aim. 

"In terms of strategy we're starting with the medium tyre. Some guys I'm battling with who are starting on the soft, so that can play a part."

Hamilton vowed to fight championship leader Verstappen hard but maintains Red Bull have more pace despite his team chipping away at the advantage.

"We gave it everything and we've got a long race so I hope that the balance works for us," said the seven-time world champion.

"It's going to be a tough battle with these guys - they've generally had the edge throughout the weekend and the analysis last night was that they are a quarter of a second ahead on long run pace.

"I hope through work we've closed that gap but finding the next two-tenths [to Red Bull] is a little bit difficult. We will not leave any stone unturned."

 

AlphaTauri had a good day with Pierre Gasly in sixth and Yuki Tsunoda qualifying eighth either side of Charles Leclerc.

But another grid penalty was handed out ahead of Sunday's race, with Japanese driver Tsunoda demoted to 11th – ironically for blocking Bottas – meaning Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and George Russell benefit.

Triumphs for Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Perez were impressive at the street circuits of Monaco and Baku.

But the Dutchman's win at the more traditional French Grand Prix last time out – a race Mercedes had dominated in the previous two years – was a huge statement that gave him a 12-point lead in the standings.

Verstappen continued his momentum to take pole and is now chasing his third career triumph in Spielberg, which would make this his most successful track in terms of wins.

Bottas and Hamilton won the two grands prix here last year, though there were sweet home successes for Red Bull in each of the two years prior.

Lewis Hamilton has cast doubt on prospects for a Mercedes victory at the Styrian Grand Prix but promised to "give it everything" to challenge Max Verstappen.

Pole position went to Verstappen on Saturday as the Red Bull team showed impressive pace at their home circuit in Spielberg, Austria.

Championship leader Verstappen, who heads Hamilton by 12 points after the opening seven races of the season, expressed satisfaction as a job well done.

Hamilton reacted to being only third quickest, behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas, by saying Mercedes simply do not have the speed that Red Bull are showing at present.

A three-place grid penalty for a pit-lane spin on Friday means Bottas will drop to fifth, with Hamilton bumped up a spot, spared having to start on the second row.

Hamilton said: "Well done to Max. I've been giving it absolutely everything. It just wasn't the greatest of sessions, but nonetheless I'm still on the front row.

"I did everything I could and we go into the race on Sunday for a fight.

"Generally they [Red Bull] had a quarter of a second on us all weekend. I don't think we have the raw pace to overtake them, that's for sure."

 

But Hamilton added: "We'll be giving it everything. Maybe Sunday we'll be surprised, maybe it rains, who knows."

Verstappen has won two of the last three races to power ahead at the top of the drivers' standings, giving him early season hope of a first world title.

"It's been a very good weekend," said Verstappen. "Again in qualifying the car was really good to drive. I'm super happy to be on pole here at home. It's nice to see a Red Bull car first here.

"The lap, when you look at the track you think there are not many corners, but the corners you have are quite difficult. It's a small track but it's hard to get a good lap out of it. The first lap in Q3 was not too bad. It's never perfect, but it was good enough."

Looking ahead to race day, Verstappen said: "It's never easy – I wish sometimes it was easy. I'm sure again it will be very tight. Hopefully again it will be as interesting as it was in France."

Verstappen won after an undercut as he delivered victory last weekend at the French Grand Prix. Hamilton took second place there, with Sergio Perez third and Bottas fourth.

Bottas said his grid penalty this weekend was "a shame", adding: "It's a new day on Sunday with a race ahead and anything is possible."

 

Lando Norris (McLaren) and Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Perez will form the second row, with the relegated Bottas alongside Pierre Gasly on row three.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc struggled for pace with Ferrari in qualifying, and Sainz was bumped out of the top 10 close to the end of Q2, qualifying only 12th quickest.

Leclerc clambered to seventh on the grid, with Gasly's AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda eighth and Fernando Alonso ninth.

Sainz still qualified ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel – 13th and 14th respectively – with George Russell just a sliver away from making it through to Q3. Williams driver Russell was 11th, a mere 0.008 seconds behind Lance Stroll's Aston Martin.
 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:03.841
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.194secs (has three-place grid penalty)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.226s
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.279s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.327s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.395s
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.631s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.673s
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.733s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +0.867s

Lewis Hamilton has confirmed he has held "positive" talks with Mercedes over his future.

Speculation surrounded Hamilton for the majority of the 2020 Formula One season as he won a record-equalling seventh drivers' championship.

The Briton returned to Mercedes for this campaign but only signed a one-year deal, meaning he is again out of contract at the end of the year.

Hamilton is engaged in a gripping title tussle with Max Verstappen, who leads the championship for the first time in his career.

P7, P15 and P2 finishes across the past three races have opened up a 12-point gap at the summit.

Only in 2016 (five, twice) has Hamilton gone longer without a victory since 2014, but the Silver Arrows remain keen to keep their prized asset on board.

"[There is] not a lot to say too much on, but we have had discussions and things are positive," said Hamilton ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix.

 

Should he wish to commit to Mercedes, Hamilton is assured of a seat, having claimed 98 wins and 100 poles in his F1 career – two records.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas is less secure, with Mercedes' team principal openly discussing the option of promoting George Russell.

But Hamilton said: "Valtteri is my team-mate now. Both of us have had ups and downs in our careers, but he is a fantastic team-mate and I don't necessarily see that it needs to change.

"We have worked well for many years. Valtteri has been my best team-mate overall, and when I say team-mate it's not just driver performance, it's about team morale and how you work in the team-mate environment."

On Russell, who drove for Mercedes in Hamilton's place late last season, the reigning champion added: "He's not my team-mate currently, so [there is] no need to say anything on it."

Max Verstappen is taking the Formula One title race to Mercedes and he holds all of the momentum as Red Bull return home for two consecutive races in Austria.

The Red Bull Ring will host rounds eight and nine of the 2021 season, starting with the Styrian Grand Prix this week.

Triumphs for Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez were impressive at the street circuits of Monaco and Baku.

But the Dutchman's win at the more traditional French Grand Prix – a race Mercedes had dominated in the previous two years – was a huge statement.

Verstappen now leads Hamilton by 12 points in the drivers' standings, while Red Bull are 37 in front when it comes to the constructors' championship.

The leader is chasing his third career victory in Spielberg, which would make this his most successful track in terms of wins.

 

Verstappen is also looking for a fifth podium at the circuit, while a finish of seventh or better will make this venue his most productive for points. 

A fourth win of 2021 would also make this his most successful F1 season even though we are not yet at the halfway stage, highlighting his team's huge progress.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton won the two grands prix here last year, though there were sweet home successes for Red Bull in each of the two years prior.

Another triumph would pile further pressure on Mercedes, whose lead driver Hamilton has gone three without victory. Only in 2016 – the last time he was not crowned champion – has he had a worse run since 2014.
 

LAST TIME OUT

Red Bull rescued a dramatic victory for Verstappen with a bold strategy call at the French Grand Prix.

That came after an error from the Dutchman – who started on pole – saw Hamilton move into the ascendancy on lap one. 

Trailing the Briton after that poor start, Red Bull's strategy turned the race on its head with a powerful undercut. Once back in the lead, they then made the call to pit a second time and surrender track position. 

With Hamilton out in front on older tyres, Verstappen got to work cutting the gap and made the winning pass on the penultimate lap to cap a thrilling race.

Perez beat Bottas to the last spot on the podium, with Lando Norris the best of the rest in fifth for McLaren as neither Ferrari made the top 10.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPIELBERG

While Red Bull are flying high and can draw upon past positive memories at home, the last time they had a race where both drivers retired in F1 was on this circuit last year at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes' two 2020 successes give them hope of a title fightback and, despite their torrid recent run, the championship damage has been limited to an extent with 12 points still a manageable gap for Hamilton.

Failure to win, though, would give the German team their worst run in the Hybrid Era of four races without victory.

The improved form of Perez and Bottas over recent races has brought an added dimension to a season where Hamilton and Verstappen had taken centre stage.

But Bottas is yet to finish in the top two this season and the under-pressure Finn will be particularly closely watched in Austria.

He expressed frustration over strategy on team radio in France – which team boss Toto Wolff insisted he was fine with – amid continued speculation over whether George Russell will take his seat next season.

Ferrari are in need of a boost after a dreadful outing in France which allowed McLaren to seize the advantage in the race for third.

 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Brilliant Bottas – The Finn needs a result and will hope it can come at a circuit where he has more poles (three) than at any other. Mercedes have been on pole in six of the last seven Spielberg races, with the exception being Charles Leclerc in 2019.

Spielberg Saturday – Qualifying could be crucial – since 2014 (when Spielberg returned to F1), the eventual winner at the Red Bull Ring has begun the race on the first two rows of the starting grid. Six of those eight races had a winner start on the front row.

Frustrated Ferrari – Both drivers for the Italian team have finished without scoring points in two out of the last eight grands prix (2020 Abu Dhabi and 2021 France). That is as many times as it happened in Ferrari's previous 214 races.

Prime Perez – The Mexican comes to this contest after reaching back-to-back podiums for the first time in his F1 career. He is also enjoying his best streak of consecutive top-five finishes (5).

Lively Lando – Norris has scored points in his last 12 GPs, the best run in his F1 career and longest active streak on the grid. The last McLaren driver to record a better sequence than the Briton was Fernando Alonso in his opening 14 races of the 2007 campaign.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers


1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 131
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 119
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 84
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 76
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 59

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 215
2. Mercedes – 178
3. McLaren – 110
4. Ferrari – 94
5. AlphaTauri – 45

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