Lewis Hamilton refused to accept responsibility for the sensational first-lap crash that sent title rival Max Verstappen out of the British Grand Prix and into the Silverstone barriers.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Hamilton was guilty of "dirty driving" and questioned how he would sleep after the incident at Copse Corner that caused Verstappen to need hospital checks.

After the race was red-flagged and once Hamilton served a 10-second time penalty, the British driver went on to win his home grand prix and in doing so cut Verstappen's championship lead to only eight points.

"I've been giving my all this past week," Hamilton said afterwards. "Of course I always try to be measured in how I approach, particularly in battling with Max, he's very aggressive, and today I was fully alongside him and he didn't let me into space.

"Regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I take it on the chin and I just kept working."

Verstappen was initially treated by medics at Silverstone but then needed to be taken to hospital.

"He's bruised, he's battered, but no broken bones. It was by far the biggest accident of his career," Horner said on Channel 4.

The Red Bull boss made his "dirty driving" claim just minutes after the crash, which saw Hamilton come up on the inside of the pole-sitter, only for their wheels to touch and Verstappen to suffer a crash that left his car a wreck.

"The penalty doesn't fit the crime," Horner said. "He's had no penalty because he's gone on to win the grand prix. It's a desperate move that you wouldn't expect from a seven-time world champion.

"It's just irresponsible and a sign of desperation and it's completely destroyed the car."

Horner said Red Bull would "consider our options" over a possible post-race protest, after Hamilton celebrated a record eighth victory in the British race.

"I don't think Lewis can take any satisfaction from a victory like that because we were lucky today that a driver wasn't badly hurt," Horner said.

"I hope he can sleep well tonight because that's not good driving."

Horner suggested the crash could ramp up the excitement for the rest of the season, backing his young driver to come back strongly.

"He's fit, he'll recover quickly and he's mentally very, very strong," Horner said. "If anything it'll just make him more determined.

"It just raises the stakes. It didn't need to be like that because it could have been a great race between the two drivers today."

Lewis Hamilton closed the gap on championship leader Max Verstappen to eight points, but was accused of "dirty driving" after a stunning first-lap crash between the title rivals at the British Grand Prix.

An eighth triumph in his home race for Hamilton came after he passed the Ferrari of long-time leader Charles Leclerc on the 50th of the 52 laps, but it was a highly controversial victory. Leclerc took second place, with Valtteri Bottas third.

The scathing remark about Hamilton's driving at the start of the race came from Verstappen's Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who was furious with the seven-time Formula One drivers' champion.

Pole-sitter Verstappen and Hamilton, second on the grid, came close to making contact before they finally did so at Copse Corner. Hamilton was looking to overtake Verstappen on the inside, but clipped the Red Bull driver's right rear wheel.

The tyre came flying off and Verstappen's car went crashing across the gravel and into the barriers at high speed, crumpling badly. Verstappen was able to walk away, but was said by Horner to be "massively winded".

It caused the race to be red-flagged, with a delay of around 40 minutes before the grand prix resumed, Mercedes star driver Hamilton served with a 10-second penalty.

Hamilton's reaction to the crash had been to declare on team radio: "I was ahead going in there, man. He turned in on me, man. I gave that guy space."

But Red Bull team principal Horner was livid, describing the punishment as "pretty light" and telling Channel 4: "I think it was a desperate move. Copse is one of the fastest corners in the world, you don't stick a wheel up the inside, that's just dirty driving."

Hamilton came in for his time penalty just after halfway through the 52-lap race, returning to the track behind Leclerc, Mercedes team-mate Bottas and Lando Norris of McLaren.

Hamilton surged past Norris at Copse to climb to third place, before Mercedes told their drivers to switch positions with 11 laps remaining. Leclerc was suddenly under huge threat, Hamilton driving exceptionally well and bringing down the Ferrari driver's lead to barely one second with three laps remaining.

He got past at Copse, ironically, as Leclerc ran wide, and was roared home by the British fans.

Lewis Hamilton was accused of "dirty driving" by Red Bull boss Christian Horner after a first-lap collision put Max Verstappen out of the British Grand Prix.

A breathtaking start to the race culminated in title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen making contact at Copse Corner.

Verstappen was sent spinning off the track and into the barriers, with his car left in a crumpled heap.

The championship leader was able to walk away from the wreckage but was left "massively winded", according to team principal Horner.

It was the most sensational moment of the season, reflective of the intensity of the rivalry between reigning champion Hamilton and this year's leader in the standings.

Hamilton was looking to get ahead of his rival on the inside when wheels touched and Verstappen was sent spinning off the track, Horner denouncing what he considered "a desperate move".

Horner was furious with Hamilton, whose driving was scrutinised by the stewards as the race was red-flagged, with the cars returning to the pit lane while the barrier was repaired.

Verstappen was said to have come out largely unscathed, while Hamilton received a 10-second time penalty when the race eventually resumed.

"He's gone to the medical centre for a check-up. But that's a hell of a relief to see him get out because that corner's one of the fastest on the calendar," Horner told Channel 4.

"[It was] completely out of order [for Hamilton] to stick out a wheel on the inside there. It was way too far. Every driver that's driven this circuit knows you don't stick up the inside at Copse.

"He's done it and obviously his front left has made contact with Max's right rear, on one of the fastest corners in the championship and he's put him in the fence. Thank god he's not been hurt. As you can imagine, we're pretty annoyed about things.

"I think it was a desperate move. He failed to make the move in the first part of the lap which he was obviously geared to do.

"Then it was a desperate move sticking a wheel up the inside. Copse is one of the fastest corners in the world, you don't stick a wheel up the inside, that's just dirty driving.

"That's just not on and I'm just relieved to see our driver's walked away because that could have been a very, very nasty accident."

Max Verstappen crashed out of the British Grand Prix on the first lap after a stunning collision with title rival Lewis Hamilton.

It had been a dazzling start to the race with the front-row pair going neck-and-neck in the opening corners.

They came close to making contact earlier on the lap before they finally did so at Copse Corner, Hamilton looking to overtake championship leader Verstappen on the inside but clipping the Red Bull driver's right rear wheel.

The tyre came flying off and Verstappen's car went crashing across the gravel and into the barriers at high speed.

Verstappen was able to walk away from the incident without any serious injury, but was said by team boss Christian Horner to be "massively winded".

Hamilton reported damage to his Mercedes car over the radio to his team, and told them: "I was ahead going in there, man. He turned in on me, man."

The result was that the race was red-flagged to allow for repairs to be carried out to the barriers, meaning it would have to re-start.

Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes will need to play "the long game" if they are to have any chance of beating Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the British Grand Prix.

The first-ever Formula One sprint race took place on Saturday, with Verstappen passing Hamilton – who had qualified fastest in a new Friday session - on the first lap and going on to win.

That means Verstappen is awarded pole position and three championship points with Hamilton and third-placed Valtteri Bottas having to settle for two and one respectively.

Hamilton is grateful to have the chance to bounce back in the main race on Sunday but is under no illusions over the size of the task facing him on home soil as Verstappen seeks a fourth consecutive F1 victory.

"Sunday is going to be tough," Hamilton, who is seeking a record eighth win at Silverstone, told reporters after the 17-lap sprint.

"He [Verstappen] had a lot of pace in him and I don't think he was particularly having to push too hard, and we were flat-out. 

"If I can try somehow to keep up with them through the stints, maybe we can apply pressure through strategy – but we're not going to be overtaking them on the track: they're just too fast. 

"So, we play the long game hopefully."

In the sprint race it was a slow start that cost Hamilton, who now trails Verstappen by 33 points.

The seven-time world champion added: "I gave it everything, it's just not good when you lose from P1. We'll try to turn the negative into a positive.

"Every point counts, but I'm grateful to have finished. We will fight again, but they're just so strong, in the race he was pulling away. There was nothing I could do to hold onto him.

"We really have to try and be in front somehow. I wish we could re-do the start again, but luckily we have it again on Sunday."

Verstappen believes Mercedes are competitive rivals for the race and the Dutchman will be outnumbered given Sergio Perez, who spun off and later retired in the sprint, will start at the back of the grid.

"What we learned on Saturday is that it's very close again," said the championship leader.

"It's a bit different. It seems like we are quick through corners, they are quick on the straight this weekend.

"The pace was alright but I still expect with a pit-stop coming into play – or two pit stops, who knows – it’s again going to be a good fight." 

Hamilton was positive about the trial changes made to the format this weekend, but thinks everything, including qualifying, should be packed in to Saturday and Sunday if a sprint becomes a permanent feature.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: "We should do more like that [the sprint], maybe a different version of it, in future because this makes the weekend more enjoyable I think.

"They did a great job and I think the fans enjoyed it, from what we saw on the parade laps. 

"I think this weekend's been awesome in terms of Friday, it was such a fun day to have qualifying - way more enjoyable [than practice would have been].

"It's always nice doing more races that’s for sure, but it is almost like they should almost do the sprint race on the Sunday and then the race because there could be a lot of sitting around for people on Sunday.

"It's been great to try something new - we should just do a long Saturday and long Sunday. P1, P2, qualifying on Saturday and then a sprint race and a race on Sunday. Pack it all in!

"That means we have one whole day less, 23 days actually less of driving these cars around the track and obviously that would be better in terms of going more green."

George Russell finished the sprint in ninth but has been handed a three-place grid penalty for an incident with Carlos Sainz.

He therefore drops to 12th, with Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Pierre Gasly the beneficiaries.

Max Verstappen inflicted more damage to Lewis Hamilton's Formula One title hopes as the Red Bull driver held on to win the inaugural sprint race at Silverstone.

Verstappen started in second in the trial event ahead of the British Grand Prix, but a flying first lap saw him overtake championship rival Hamilton by the first corner.

It was a lead which proved unassailable, the Dutchman cruising to a victory which sees him take pole position in Sunday's main race, as well as three championship points.

Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas ensured it was not all bad for Mercedes as they claimed second and third on the grid, while Fernando Alonso was unable to sustain a brilliant start.

Verstappen flew out of the blocks, with Hamilton unable to compensate when he attempted to skirt around the outside at the first corner, only to pull out of the manoeuvre.

Bottas was hot on the tracks of the duo, while Alonso charged up from 11th to fifth with a first lap just as impressive as Verstappen's effort.

The veteran Spaniard was unable to maintain it, though, dropping down to seventh as his soft tyres started to struggle.

Further ahead, Hamilton – who set a blistering time in Friday's qualifying session – was demanding more from his team over the radio, yet he could not close the gap on Verstappen, who held a 2.3 second lead heading into the 17th and final lap.

Hamilton managed to close in on the final straight, but Verstappen was the deserving victor in the first taster of F1's latest format tweak.

There was less luck for Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, however, with the Mexican crashing on Lap 7, dropping down to 18th before Red Bull called him back to retire in the pits, meaning they have drivers bookending both ends of the grid.

Charles Leclerc came fourth, with Lando Norris capping a difficult week for him personally with an impressive drive to place himself fifth.

George Russell dropped to ninth, though faces an investigation for an early incident involving Carlos Sainz.

Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to the Silverstone crowd after beating Max Verstappen in qualifying for the British Grand Prix and securing top place on the grid for Saturday’s inaugural F1 Sprint.

Trailing Verstappen by 32 points in the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton has the momentum at Silverstone after pipping the Dutchman to victory in Friday's qualifying session by a tenth of a second.

Mercedes have won seven of the last eight races on this track with six of those triumphs going to Hamilton, who claimed his first pole here back in 2007.

After finishing fourth in Austria, the seven-time World champion is aiming to avoid consecutive finishes outside the podium for the first time since 2017.

And inspired by the raucous home crowd, he made the ideal start in ensuring he will head the grid in the F1 Sprint.

Lewis Hamilton is optimistic the upgrades Mercedes are bringing to the British Grand Prix will help his team cut the gap to Red Bull.

Three straight Formula One wins have helped Max Verstappen open up a 32-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' championship, while Red Bull are 44 clear in the constructors' standings.

Having finished fourth in Austria, Hamilton is bidding to avoid finishing two consecutive races outside the podium for the first time since 2017.

Toto Wolff's outfit are winless in their past five GPs, their worst run in the hybrid era (since 2014) and as many races without finishing first as in their previous 17.

But the seven-time world champion now has hope for his home event.

"There's a lot of changes on the car," Hamilton told reporters.

"It is not a massive update in terms of the gap that we have seen in the races, but it definitely helps us in terms of closing that gap quickly,

"Massively looking forward to it. A lot of work has gone on over the past couple of weeks. 

"So, I'm hoping that coming back to a circuit that suits us a little bit better and hopefully bodes well for a closer battle at least with the Red Bulls."

 

The home support he will receive and the new race weekend format – with points available in a Saturday sprint race that will also determine the grid for Sunday – means Hamilton is hopeful he can reduce Verstappen's lead.

There will be two practice sessions – with only one on Friday before qualifying for the sprint race will also take place – rather than the usual three.

That means it could be harder to judge the gaps between cars in the pecking order prior to the competitive action.

"Another element is this sprint race that we have: this new format," said Hamilton. "Of course, it's easy for any of us to get it wrong but there's opportunities there, which is exciting.

"There's always talk of the energy and the buzz that the fans bring, and without doubt when it's your home grand prix and the British crowd, you come with more.

"So, I'm hoping that all of those [elements] together close that nice gap those guys [Red Bull] have grown out in terms of performance, and enables us to take it to them this weekend.

"With all those elements I hope and pray, yes, that [cutting Verstappen's lead] is the case."

Hamilton is enthused by the return of a sell-out crowd to Silverstone.

He added: "Ever since the first time I came and raced here in 2006, but particularly in Formula 1 – 2007 – the roar of the crowd here is unlike anywhere else.

"Considering we‘ve had a drought in terms of fans not being at the races in the past year, the energy has definitely been very much missed."

Red Bull are also expecting a closer battle than has been seen in the previous races.

Verstappen said: "We are very focused. They are bringing upgrades, so naturally I think if they work, they [will be] closer. 

"Of course, we've been happy with the last few races, but we always look at things we could do better and that's what we'll try and do this weekend again."

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

Max Verstappen relished being able to deliver another win at the Red Bull Ring in front of his 'orange army' in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The Formula One drivers' championship leader secured a third straight victory and second at Spielberg in two weeks.

As at the Styrian GP, Verstappen led from start to finish having taken pole position on Saturday.

The Dutchman now has two poles, four wins, six podiums and 139 points at the Red Bull Ring, reserving his best returns at any circuit for Red Bull's home race.

"It was incredible, to be honest," Verstappen said. "The car was unreal, every tyre set we put on was really enjoyable to drive.

"It's pretty insane. I'm a bit amazed myself how it went – I didn't expect it to be like this.

"Incredible job by everyone to deliver something like this. Of course, when you go into the weekend, everyone sees you as the favourite, but it's never easy to actually always deliver what we did.

"It's a great effort by the whole team and also by Honda, I think the whole package...

"These two weeks, especially here, it's been incredible."

Verstappen had the support of a large, loud crowd, dressed in orange and cheering their man home.

"It was insane to see all the fans here," he added. "There's so much orange, it's incredible. A great motivation as well.

"Especially the last lap, there was a lot of orange all over the track. Thank you very much for coming."

 

Lando Norris, who recovered from a controversial five-second penalty, also earned encouragement from the fans, though, finishing third ahead of Verstappen's title rival Lewis Hamilton.

His run of 14 straight races in the points is the best of his career and the best ongoing streak in F1.

"It was a lot of fun," Norris said, before giving his take on the incident involving Sergio Perez. "It was a good race, exciting, but I'm disappointed because it should have been second place.

"I thought lap one was just racing really – he tried to go around the outside of me, which was a bit stupid. He ran off the track himself, I didn't even push him. I don't know.

"I was frustrated, but I'm also happy with P3. We had very good pace and I'm happy."

Valtteri Bottas clung to second in front of Norris, but the Briton was confident his McLaren could tussle with the best.

"I could keep up with him a lot, even in the dirty air – just not enough to get into the DRS," he said. "As soon as I got close to within one second, I started struggling too much.

"Shoulda, woulda, coulda, in the end.

"It's nice to know that we could be there and we could race them. It's probably the first race in many years I'm actually racing the Mercedes and the Red Bulls.

"Hopefully we can keep it up next time."

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

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 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.

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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

Max Verstappen is not getting carried away by his dominant win at the Styrian Grand Prix, warning Red Bull may not find life so easy at a different track.

Verstappen became the first Formula One driver to win three times at the Red Bull Ring as he raced clear of Lewis Hamilton, triumphing by more than 35 seconds despite showboating as he crossed the line.

Next week's event – the Austrian Grand Prix – is at Red Bull's home circuit, too, encouraging optimism Verstappen could add to his career-high four wins this season.

This layout has typically allowed Mercedes to show their pace, however, with its 10 turns the fewest on the 2021 calendar.

The Silver Arrows qualified in pole position in six of the previous seven races at the Red Bull Ring – Ferrari's Charles Leclerc the other – before Verstappen was fastest this week.

Hamilton highlighted Red Bull's straight-line speed as key, yet Verstappen wants to see continued excellence to stretch his 18-point advantage in the drivers' championship.

"We do have a very good package, but I want to see it again every single weekend," Verstappen told a news conference.

 

"Every track is different and it's still about finding the perfect set-up on the car because it can be quite sensitive in some areas, to make it work.

"It's never good enough – I always want to try to improve every single weekend because even a weekend like this... of course, it looks amazing, we won with a big margin, but it's never good enough.

"So, we just try to look into details of what we can do better, and when we go to other tracks again, I don't expect it to be like it was today, so we have to just keep being very focused in what we have to do.

"So far, of course, I'm very happy with how it's been going but, like I said, it's never good enough."

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."

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