Hamilton hopes Silverstone will help him return to success

SILVERSTONE, UK — The British Grand Prix this weekend gives Lewis Hamilton an opportunity to speak out on and off the track after a week dominated by how Formula 1 deals with racism .

Hamilton’s Mercedes team have struggled a lot this season but have reason to hope for a better performance this weekend at Silverstone, where the British driver is an eight-time winner. Unlike recent street circuit races, the UK track has a smooth surface that could reduce the Mercedes’ tendency to bounce at high speeds (porpoising), causing Hamilton back pain.

Hamilton said the team did 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 Grand Prix two weeks ago .

The seven-time champion also spoke this week about improving F1’s record on diversity and inclusion, especially as F1 drivers condemned former champion Nelson Piquet for his comments in an interview outlining Hamilton, the sport’s only black driver, with a racist term that drivers and teams have widely condemned.

Leaderboard Max Verstappen, who is in a relationship with Piquet’s daughter Kelly, admitted Thursday that the man he calls his « stepfather » used a « very, very offensive » word, but that he 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.

Bottas surprises in the rain

Valtteri Bottas created a surprise by dominating the first free practice session marked by rain. The Alfa Romeo driver set the fastest lap in one minute 42.249 seconds as the track dried up, ahead of Ferrari’s Hamilton (0.532) and Carlos Sainz (0.718).

The conditions were so difficult that it is impossible to draw any conclusions from this session, with teams like Red Bull deciding not to go out on track to save their tires, as rain is still expected on Saturday.

A red flag interrupted the session about a minute before the scheduled end when Lance Stroll lost control of his Aston Martin in a bend and came to rest in the gravel.

Mick Schumacher (Haas), Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri), Stroll and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) are the only other drivers to have recorded a time.

Hamilton and the jewels

Hamilton also indicated that a solution had been found in his clash with 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 indicated he would continue to wear piercings — specifically a nose stud that would be difficult to remove — but said on Thursday he had found a solution.

« We have so many bigger things to deal with, » Hamilton said. So I will work with Mohammed and his team so that we can move forward.”

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