Alonso charges to fifth in Hungary, sending McLaren into summer break on a high

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Fernando Alonso took full advantage of the misfortune of others to finish the Hungarian Grand Prix in fifth place, marking McLaren’s best result of the season so far.

Since joining forces with Honda at the beginning of the 2015 season, McLaren has struggled to battle inside the top ten, scoring just five points in the opening nine races of the year.

The team’s rut looked set to continue in Hungary after Alonso suffered a problem on his car in qualifying, leaving him 15th on the grid, one place ahead of teammate Jenson Button.

However, as a number of drivers up the field hit trouble, Alonso managed to move up the order and eventually cross the line in fifth place for ten points.

“This was a very good race, and fifth position at the finish is a nice little present for the whole team, particularly as we’re not as competitive as we’d like right now,” Alonso said.

“On the calendar, there are a handful of circuits where we expected our performance to be better – Monaco, Singapore, and here in Hungary, so we knew we needed to make the most of today.

“Critically, we did just that: it was a chaotic race, and we took advantage of every opportunity that came our way. These points are a good way to send the whole team into the summer break, but we need to further maximize our chances in the second half of the season.”

Button followed his teammate’s lead by fighting through the field to finish ninth and secure McLaren’s first double points finish of the season.

“Fernando did a great job today,” Button said. “Fitting the option tire for the final stint was the right decision for him; I didn’t stop for tyres under the safety car whereas pretty much everyone around me did.

“That decision made it very difficult for me, because my used primes were pretty old by the end of the race, and there were plenty of faster cars around me running fresher options.

“Still, it was a fun race, and it’s great to get points ahead of the summer break. The accidents and penalties certainly helped us, but we still did a good job out there today.

“This is a step forward for us, but we’ll need to take another step if we’re to repeat this sort of result. Equally, the next two races – at Spa and Monza – will probably be difficult for us, but it’s good to see we’re making progress.”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.