Lewis Hamilton knows Mercedes are "on the back foot" after he broke down in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton set the pace in the first session at Zandvoort, but lost power after completing just three laps of an FP2 that was halted by a red flag due to Nikita Mazepin going into the Turn 11 gravel.

The seven-time Formula One world champion, who leads Max Verstappen by only three points in the battle for the title, was not overly concerned by the setback as Mercedes investigated the issue.

Asked if he knew what the cause of the problem was, the Brit replied: “Not yet. I was just in there [the garage], I just lost power, so they just told me to stop, but it’s not the end of the world.

"It's been a beautiful day in terms of weather, it's amazing to see the crowd – there's so many people here – it's good to see people hyped and the first time we’ve see the full, full energy.

"Not full yet, but we’ll probably see it in the next few days – all the energy the Dutch fans bring.

"It's more annoying that we only got like 20 minutes of running with that red flag. It naturally puts us on the back foot, but Valtteri [Bottas] looked like he had a good session so probably tomorrow we can try and fill in, make up for some of the time, hopefully.”

Charles Leclerc was fastest in the second session, but Verstappen believes he could have been top of the timesheets in his homeland if the red flag had not been waved.

Red Bull driver Verstappen, who was fifth-fastest, said: "I don’t think it looks very representative from our side in the short run. My lap was on a used set, and the lap I had to abort I think would have been good enough for first.

"Already after one lap, the tyres do drop off a bit. Nevertheless, we will work on a few things where we were not entirely happy in the short runs. But long run looks competitive, so that is always very important."

Max Verstappen believes George Russell will make life "very difficult" for Lewis Hamilton if he replaces Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes next year.

Williams driver Russell has been tipped to take Bottas' seat, with Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff having revealed his desire to finalise his driver line-up for 2022 this month.

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 also conducted a Pirelli tyre test for Mercedes ahead of the mid-season break and Verstappen thinks his arrival would keep his fellow Brit Hamilton on his toes.

"If he joins then for sure he will make it very difficult for Lewis,” Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by three points in the battle for the title, said ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend.

"He jumped into the car in Bahrain and basically from lap one he was making it very difficult for Valtteri, so you can only imagine the more experience you gain in that car and the more you get accustomed within the team, naturally you're going to get faster.

"When you do your first race you're guided by the team about setup direction because you just don’t know what to do really, initially, with the car.

"I remember my first race at Red Bull, the thing I said was is that we will just follow a bit what Daniel [Ricciardo] is doing because I have no clue about what this car needs to go quick because even though F1 cars look pretty similar, the way of setting them up can be very different.

"I am very confident - already what you could see with the performance he did in Spa was really good.

"Of course, they set up the car a bit more for wet conditions but nevertheless to do that in a Williams was very impressive. I do expect him to do very well if he gets that seat."

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc echoed Verstappen's sentiments.

“I have actually been team-mates with George for a year in karting and I think what I have seen of him since that time, is just that he is extremely talented," he said.

"Every time he gets into the car he's just quick straightaway, so his talent makes him special.

"If he goes to Mercedes next year, and I hope he does because I think he deserves a chance there, I'm pretty sure he will perform very, very well and impress more than one person."

A Belgian Grand Prix washout only increased the intrigue in the two biggest battles in Formula One this season ahead of a return to Zandvoort.

The Dutch GP is back on the calendar for the first time since 1985 – when only three drivers on the current grid had been born.

There should be more racing this week than at Spa, where rain wrecked the weekend, and plenty of drama is in store.

The two biggest beneficiaries from the two-lap procession last time out were Max Verstappen and George Russell.

Verstappen closed to within three points of Lewis Hamilton thanks to his position on pole, while Russell claimed a first career podium as he bids to beat Valtteri Bottas to the second Mercedes seat.

Existing Silver Arrows stars Hamilton and Bottas will aim to respond on Sunday, although time may have run out for the Finn to make his mark.

LAST TIME OUT

Verstappen just pipped Russell to pole on Saturday at Spa but could not have known then how crucial that final dash would prove.

Sunday's race was delayed and delayed by awful weather, finally starting under the safety car only for a red flag to bring the drivers in once more.

With two laps fulfilled, it was enough to declare a result, giving Verstappen a precious win and Russell an improbable podium.

Until the Hungarian GP, immediately prior to the mid-season break, Russell's only F1 points had come in Hamilton's Mercedes as a reserve last season.

But an eighth-placed finish was followed by his best result yet, capping a great weekend for Williams, who also had Nicholas Latifi in the points for a second straight race.

Bottas was at Williams, alongside Felipe Massa, the last time they had two drivers do that back in 2016, but the team are eager to see Russell now get his chance at Mercedes.

Toto Wolff confirmed in Belgium the call had been made on their 2022 driver, and Williams team principal Jost Capito told Channel 4 of Russell: "I do not want to hang on to him.

"As he, the driver, can win the championship, he deserves a car that can win the championship, and he can do that in the Mercedes.

"And I am convinced he will come back in a couple of years and win the championship with us."

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE NETHERLANDS

Some racing would be nice, and Hamilton and Bottas will not be the only men out to make amends.

Lando Norris' crash in qualifying cost him dear as he was unable to recover on race day, finishing 14th to continue a mini-slump after retiring in Hungary.

Focus will again be on the top two and on Russell, though.

With Williams having collected more points from their past two grands prix (20) than their previous 71 (15), he will be eyeing another unlikely challenge.

Russell could become the first Williams driver to claim consecutive podiums since Bottas' three in a row in 2014.

"Obviously off the back of last weekend in Spa, everyone just wants to get racing again and put on a show for all of the supporters at the circuit and for those watching around the world on TV," he said.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Return to form for Ferrari? – Back when Zandvoort was a regular on the F1 calendar, Ferrari registered more wins (eight), fastest laps (10) and podiums (24) than any other team at the Dutch GP.

Max out to make history – Verstappen could become the first Dutch driver ever to celebrate a win in his own country in F1. It would be only the third home Benelux win after Verstappen's triumph in Belgium and Jacky Ickx's 1971 Dutch GP success.

Red Bull front row regulars – After Spa, Red Bull have as many pole positions this season (six) as in the rest of the hybrid era combined. Another would take them level with Lotus on 47 all-time, tied fifth.

Hamilton hunting milestones – Still one win shy of 100 in F1, victory would also see Hamilton become the first driver to 4,000 points and give him his 175th podium.

Another to tick off – Hamilton has wins (29) and pole positions (30) at the most different circuits as he prepares to tackle his 34th. Meanwhile, fellow Zandvoort debutant Fernando Alonso has earned points at each of the prior 32 tracks at which he has appeared.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 202.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 199.5
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. Ferrari – 163
4. McLaren – 163
5. Alpine – 77

Lewis Hamilton hit out at Formula One bosses as he claimed "money talks" after a farcical Belgian Grand Prix was aborted after only two laps.

Heavy downpours prevented any competitive racing from taking place in the shortest F1 race in history at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

Following an initial delay of half an hour due to the poor conditions, the start was eventually put back by over three hours, with two failed attempts to get under way after Sergio Perez had crashed while making his way out onto the grid.

The crowd were not rewarded for their patience, as a red flag was flown after only two and a half laps with the drivers behind the safety car.

Max Verstappen was declared the winner ahead of George Russell, with Hamilton third – the positions they started on the grid.

With only half points awarded due to F1 regulations, Red Bull's Verstappen cut Hamilton's championship lead to only three points.

The seven-time F1 world champion felt the drivers were only sent out for financial reasons and fans should be given refunds.

"Money talks, and literally the two laps to start the race was all a money scenario," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"Everyone gets their money – and I think the fans should get theirs back too. Unfortunately, they didn't get to see what they paid for.

"It's a shame we couldn't do the race tomorrow. I love this track as well, so [I am] sad we couldn't do this. Today wasn't a race. I think the sport made a bad choice today.

"Of course, we wanted to race but this minimum of two laps you need to do to count as a race, between the gap [between the race stopping and resuming] it rained consistently.

"There was only one reason why they sent us out. That's why I feel more bad for the fans."

George Russell rejoiced in achieving a maiden Formula One podium finish, even if the circumstances of his second place at the Belgian Grand Prix were a little unorthodox.

The race was called off at a rain-soaked Spa after just two laps behind a safety car, with pole-sitter Max Verstappen declared the winner as British duo Russell and Lewis Hamilton completed the top three.

Heavy rain had delayed the start by over three hours as Sergio Perez had crashed while making his way out onto the grid.

The conditions ultimately made competitive racing impossible, but a two-lap procession was enough to declare a result, with half points awarded.

Williams driver Russell, who performed wonders to qualify second on the grid, felt it was a suitable reward.

"We don't often get rewarded for great qualifyings, but we absolutely did today," said the 23-year-old.

"It was a shame we did not get the race under way but, from my side, and the team's side it's an amazing result.

"The whole team deserve it because there has been so much hard work going into work over the last few years and there has been nothing to show for it, but we absolutely nailed it yesterday."

Red Bull's Verstappen is now just three points behind defending champion Hamilton and he reflected on a crucial performance in Saturday's qualifying, which also took place on a sodden track.

He said: "Now, in hindsight, it was very important to get that pole position. It's a shame to not get proper laps, but the conditions were very tricky.

"At 3.30pm the conditions were decent but the visibility was very low. I think if we'd started at 3pm we would have had a decent chance.

"Big credit to the fans for staying here all day."

Hamilton added: "They knew, at the end, the track wasn't any better and they did it just so they could do two laps and declare a race. I really hope the fans get their money back.

"You couldn't see even five metres in front of you on the straight. You couldn't even see the flashing light in front of you."

The Belgian Grand Prix was called off at a rain-soaked Spa after just two laps, though that was still enough racing for Max Verstappen to claim a victory that cuts Lewis Hamilton's championship lead.

Heavy downpours ruined Formula One's return after the mid-season break, with the start delayed by over three hours after Sergio Perez had crashed while making his way out onto the grid.

Eventually the cars did get out onto the track with the plan to stage a one-hour race amid time constraints, only for the red flag to again be waved after the field had tip-toed around behind the safety car.

However, having managed to successfully get around the circuit twice, a final result was declared with half points awarded.

Having claimed pole position in qualifying on Saturday, Verstappen was awarded the victory, his sixth of a hugely impressive 2021 campaign for Red Bull.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had to settle for third place, behind fellow Briton George Russell. It means the reigning world champion leads the driver standings by just three points with 10 rounds to go.

"It's a win but not how you want to win. Today a big credit goes to all the fans around the track for staying here the whole day in the rain, the cold, windy conditions. They are actually the bigger winners today," Verstappen said.

Racing had already been pushed back from the scheduled start of 15:00 local time (14:00 BST) when Perez provided a further complication. The Red Bull driver lost control in the tricky conditions and skidded into a barrier. Unable to reverse out, he climbed out and appeared set to be out of the race.

But, with his team having time to work on the damage amid the lengthy stoppage, the Mexican was cleared by race director Michael Masi to resume from the pit lane.

In the end, the entire grid returned from the pits behind the safety car to try and get under way, only for the red flag to be waved again. Not long after, it was confirmed racing had been stopped, bringing a rather damp and disappointing end to proceedings.

 

George Russell earned a front-row spot for the Belgian Grand Prix as it was revealed Mercedes have decided whether to recruit him for next season.

The young British driver defied expectations of what the Williams car could achieve by producing a stunning qualifying lap in the rain at Spa.

Only a last-ditch effort by title hopeful Max Verstappen denied Russell a first career pole, while Lewis Hamilton took third place on the grid.

It may be that Hamilton and Russell become team-mates next season, if Mercedes decide to part ways with Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed on Saturday that the team have chosen their line-up for 2022, but that they will keep it private for now.

According to multiple reports, Wolff twice replied "Yes" in a media call when asked if that big call had already been made.

"Today doesn't make any difference," Wolff said. "We know what we have with George."

Russell is a part of Mercedes' young driver programme and was recalled to his parent team to replace a COVID-19 affected Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix last season, an indication of Wolff's high regard for his ability.

Wolff said of Mercedes' recent quandary over Bottas and Russell: "If it would have been an easy decision, we would have made it earlier, because we know what we have with Valtteri and we know what we have with George.

"Both of them deserve being looked after. Both deserve to be looked after in the best possible way, because both of them are part of the family, and we hold them up high."

Russell said there "probably should be" points awarded for qualifying performance, as he reflected on the fact he has taken no such reward yet this weekend. But the 23-year-old believes he can be a force in Sunday's race, particularly if the track is again wet.

He said: "We've obviously got to be realistic, we've got incredibly fast cars behind us, but if the conditions stay the same, we've got a car that's probably quick enough on merit in the top 10.

"But if we're starting from the front row, there's no reason why we can't try to hold that position for the majority of the race. I don't think I’m going to do anything stupid with the cars around me that are clearly going to be faster than us – but there's no reason why we can’t finish, if conditions are like this, top five, and just maximise it. Points is an absolute minimum."

Verstappen said: "This track is amazing to drive in the dry and when you then have a wet qualifying, it's pretty ... I wouldn't say scary but it's really interesting and quite extreme in Q3 when you know that you have to push and try to go to the limit in the wet here."

Championship leader Hamilton said the Mercedes race pace "should be a little bit stronger" than in practice. "But I still think it's going to be a handful, particularly if it's going to be these conditions," he added.

 

The season broke for summer after the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August, and Saturday marked a return to the thrills and spills of the sport.

The conditions were particularly tough in the third and final stage of qualifying as heavy rain arrived at the circuit, with Lando Norris crashing out early and leaving his McLaren a heavily damaged heap.

Norris, who had shown excellent pace up to that point, was given the all-clear after an elbow X-ray in hospital and looks set to race.

He had complained of aquaplaning moments before crashing badly, his car sliding into the barrier on the left side of the track at Eau Rouge and spinning out of control across the track.

He said over the team radio: "I let you down, my bad."

However, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel had wanted the session red-flagged before the crash happened and told his team on hearing of the crash: "What did I say, red flag? It's unnecessary. Is he OK?"

Vettel was quickly on the scene and stopped to check Norris was safe before driving on past the damaged McLaren.

There was succour for McLaren as Daniel Ricciardo took fourth on the grid, just ahead of Vettel, but it was a shocker of a day for Ferrari as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualified in 10th and 12th respectively. 

Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies said: "Our qualifying performance was well below our usual standard and so far this whole weekend has proved very difficult for us."

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."

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."

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.

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