Hamilton salutes Silverstone crowd after beating Verstappen in British GP qualifying

By Sports Desk July 16, 2021

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.

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  • Hamilton: I want to see Russell win a world championship Hamilton: I want to see Russell win a world championship

    Lewis Hamilton is hopeful that future team-mate George Russell will be the next Briton to win the Formula One world championship.

    The British drivers will link up next season, with Russell set to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes.

    The 24-year-old is 15th in the drivers' standings, having achieved his first podium with Williams at the Belgian Grand Prix, while also recording top-10 finishes in Hungary, Italy and Russia.

    Many expect Russell to offer a genuine challenge to Hamilton, who recently signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes, with the latter seeking an eighth world title and just eight points behind leader Max Verstappen heading into the final two races of the 2021 season.

    The 36-year-old is anticipating a healthy rivalry with his compatriot and hopes he can be a positive influence on the 2018 Formula 2 world champion.

    "You've seen George is hugely respectful," he said in an interview published by BBC Sport.

    "He's a super-talented young man and I think there's a huge amount of respect already going in, and we've got a nice balance at the moment.

    "But he's going to want to be quick, he's going to want to show up and win, and do all those things that you do when you enter a new role.

    "I remember in 2007 when I went up against [Fernando] Alonso [at McLaren]. Of course, I wanted to beat him at the first race, so I appreciate and expect George to have that mentality; otherwise he's not a winner.

    "But I'm in a different place. I really want to see him succeed. There's going to be a point where I don't continue in this sport. He's my team-mate, and he's going to be the next Brit that I want to see win a world championship.

    "So, while we are going to be competing, and I want to win on track. I really hope I can have a positive influence on how he conducts himself within the team, whether it's the time he commits to engineering or how he churns through the data, or even just how he drives on track."

  • Hamilton on Formula One title challenge: You have to be the smarter one Hamilton on Formula One title challenge: You have to be the smarter one

    Lewis Hamilton is aiming to be the "smarter" driver as he bids to outrun Max Verstappen in a remarkably close Formula One title challenge.

    Hamilton is hunting a record seventh world title, but currently trails Verstappen by eight points heading into the final two races of the season.

    The 36-year-old has won the last two grands prix, however, having followed up his triumph in Sao Paulo with success in Qatar last weekend.

    Hamilton and Verstappen's contest has regularly boiled over onto the track, the former penalised for a collision at Silverstone, while the latter was punished at the Italian Grand Prix and was fortunate to escape a penalty for a near-miss in Brazil.

    "Rather than giving someone the benefit of the doubt, you have to know that's what's going to happen," Hamilton told BBC Sport.

    "So you always have to be ready to avoid a collision at all costs, [even] if it means going wide, because you want to see the end of the race, right? If you're stubborn and you hold your ground, you're going to crash.

    "So that's what I've just tried to do. You can't always get it perfect.

    "I am not too big or too successful to have to back out to fight another day. I know that is sometimes the route you have to take. You have to be the smarter one.

    "And sometimes you lose points in doing that, for sure, but it's not just about me. I have 2,000 people behind me and through that selfish decision I could make. That costs all my team potential bonuses at the end of the year, all the hard work they have to do, the damage of the car. I am conscious of those things also."

    Hamilton believes driving, and winning, in as pure a fashion as possible is the best way for him to prove his quality.

    "It's just how my dad raised me," said Hamilton. "He said to always do your talking on the track.

    "I was bullied as a kid, both at school but also on track, and we wanted to beat them the right way, not by a car falling off or colliding.

    "Then, there is no denying that you're better. I want to be the purest of drivers, through speed, through sheer hard work and determination, so there's no denying at the end what I've accomplished."

    Of Verstappen's aggressive approach, Hamilton said: "He's not the only driver I've raced against that's like this.

    "I've raced so many drivers in my time and they've all been very different in the way they behave. And it's interesting.

    "Now I'm older, I look a little bit deeper into their character and a bit of their background, upbringing. Our upbringing is why we act out the way we do and behave the way we do, good or bad. So I try to understand those so I can have more appreciation of who that character is I am racing with."

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    Formula One "woke up the lion" in Lewis Hamilton when he was disqualified from qualifying due to a DRS issue in Brazil, Toto Wolff says.

    Hamilton, who was already serving a penalty for taking a new engine at last week's Sao Paulo Grand Prix, was forced to start from the back of the grid in the sprint race but recovered to take fifth.

    In the main race, the Mercedes man then triumphed from 10th despite an incident that saw title rival Max Verstappen force him wide and avoid punishment.

    The FIA dismissed an appeal for that incident to be reviewed again this week, while a stewards' inquiry in Brazil saw Verstappen only fined after he touched Hamilton's car.

    These factors may have frustrated Hamilton, but he has not become distracted, instead adding another victory at the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday to close to within eight points of Red Bull's Verstappen.

    "Lewis is totally in the zone," Mercedes team principal Wolff told Sky Sports. "They woke up the lion in Interlagos on that Saturday and you see that."

    Hamilton added: "The last two weeks have been fantastic, just amazing. But there's no time for celebration.

    "I'll be back with the team already again next week and training tomorrow, stay on it, heads down.

    "I don't have too much emotion other than being driven right now, but it's just amazing to be able to close so many points in the last two races which has been important.

    "[Red Bull are] obviously still very fast, as you could see today with their fastest lap and both their cars getting past pretty much everyone quite easily. So we've still got our work cut out.

    "I'm loving it. I love the close battle, the pressure, the demands it puts on you and the whole team.

    "So I thoroughly enjoyed it, but these next two races need even better performance, so we'll be bringing our 'triple A' game for those ones."

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