Hamilton the fastest in practice for 70th Anniversary GP

Sports Desk, Aug 7 (efe-epa).- Lewis Hamilton continued his pursuit of a seventh Formula 1 world championship by posting the best lap Friday in practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Preparing for the second race in a row at his home track of Silverstone, the Briton turned in a time of 1:25.606, less than a tenth of a second faster than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Much of the focus Friday was on the tire degradation that plagued many drivers during last week’s British Grand Prix. Bottas was set to finish second until a blowout in the final three laps and even Hamilton, the race winner, limped across the line on three wheels with Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) breathing down his neck.

Despite the problems last Sunday, Pirelli opted to go again with softer tires for the 70th Anniversary race.

“I think it’s not a great choice by Pirelli,” Red Bull’s Alex Albon said Friday. “The tire isn’t quick, it’s too soft for this circuit.”

Mercedes took the top two spots in both free practice sessions on Friday.

Finland’s Bottas, who trails leader Hamilton by 30 points in the driver standings, was fastest in FP1 before falling behind his teammate in FP2.

“In general it has been a good day for us,” reigning F1 champion Hamilton said.

Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) took third place, while Verstappen was fourth. Next came the two Racing Point drivers, Lance Stroll and Nico Hülkenberg.

The Canadian claimed the fifth spot, just ahead of Hülkenberg, summoned to Silverstone from Germany last week after Stroll’s usual teammate, Sergio “Checo” Perez, tested positive for Covid-19.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) was seventh, followed by the McLaren duo of Briton Lando Norris and Spain’s Carlos Sainz.

Rounding out the top 10 was Ricciardo’s French teammate, Esteban Ocon.

Despite extensive cloud cover, the air temperature at Silverstone was 30.3 C (87 F), while the track was a sizzling 42.4 C (108 F).

Sebastian Vettel, a four-time F1 champion, had another bad day on Friday, as the engine in his Ferrari malfunctioned late in FP2, spewing oil on the track surface.

The German, who will be leaving the Scuderia at the end of the 2020 season to make way for Sainz, came in 14th.

FP2 ended with a red flag after Antonio Giovinazzi maneuvered his Alfa Romeo onto a siding after an apparent engine failure. EFE mam/dr

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