Hamilton eyes more home success at British GP

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SILVERSTONE, England — This weekend’s British Grand Prix offers Lewis Hamilton a chance to make a statement on and off the track after a buildup dominated by how Formula 1 deals with racism.

Hamilton indicated he could be among the front runners after setting the second-fastest time in Friday practice.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team have suffered badly this season but have reason to hope for an improved performance at Silverstone, where the British driver is an eight-time winner. Unlike recent races on street circuits, the UK track has a smooth surface that could reduce the Mercedes car‘s tendency to bounce at high speeds, causing Hamilton back pain.

Hamilton said the team had done a “phenomenal” job of upgrading the car for this week’s race, where he will seek a second consecutive podium after finishing third at the Canadian GP.

The seven-time world champion also spoke this week about F1’s improving record on diversity and inclusion, and was backed by F1 and other drivers after former champion Nelson Piquet described Hamilton, the only black driver in the series, with a racial slur.

Series frontman Max Verstappen, who is in a relationship with Piquet’s daughter Kelly, said on Thursday that the man he calls his “stepfather” used a “very, very offensive” word but he didn’t. did not consider Piquet to be a racist. He added that the lifetime access to the Piquet paddock granted to former F1 champions should not be revoked.

FASTEST SAINZ IN PRACTICE

Still without a win before his 150th race, Carlos Sainz was the fastest in practice.

In the second session, Sainz was 0.163 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 0.176 ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris. Verstappen was fourth fastest and Sainz’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc fifth.

Sainz is yet to win a Grand Prix despite having five podium finishes this season. He came closer when he finished narrowly second to Verstappen in Montreal.

Valtteri Bottas was the surprise leader in the first training session which was affected by the rain. Hamilton and Sainz followed. Most riders did few laps and times were much slower due to the wet track. A red flag interrupted the session about a minute before the scheduled finish after Lance Stroll spun his Aston Martin into the gravel.

Rain is likely to be a persistent factor throughout the race weekend, soaking up the expected crowd of around 400,000 and potentially rattling the grid, as it did in Canada.

Hamilton has indicated that a solution has been reached in his clash with the governing body, the FIA, over his piercings.

The FIA ​​has a long-standing rule banning piercings and jewelry for safety reasons, but it hadn’t been enforced for years. With a new FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and new race directors this season, the FIA ​​said it would enforce the rule.

Hamilton initially said he would continue to wear piercings – in particular a nose stud which would be difficult to remove – but indicated he had found a solution.

“We have so many big fish to fry,” Hamilton said. “So I will work with Mohammed and with his team so that we can progress.” The British Press Association reported that Hamilton had his nose stud removed before the first practice.

British police said on Friday they had information that protesters “may try to gain access to the track” during Sunday’s race.

“Going to a live racetrack is extremely dangerous – if you go ahead with this reckless plan, you are putting lives at risk,” Chief Inspector Tom Thompson said in a statement. Northamptonshire Police, whose jurisdiction covers Silverstone Circuit, have not identified any individuals or groups.

VETTEL REFRESH F1 HISTORY

Sebastian Vettel delves into F1’s past to present a glimpse of its possible future.

The four-time world champion will drive a classic British race ahead of Sunday’s race, demonstrating the Williams car driven by British driver Nigel Mansell when he won the title in 1992.

Vettel bought the car in 2018 as a nod to his memories of watching F1 as a child in the early 1990s – he and Mansell won the title with the No5 – and set it up to run with environmentally friendly fuel.

“I’m using carbon neutral fuels on Sunday to demonstrate that we can still retain our history, heritage, culture and motorsport, but do it more responsibly,” Vettel said, promising the new fuel mix will win. to change the sound of the Renault V10 engine.

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