Toto Wolff says Mercedes do not have an "opportunity" to move for Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

The prospect of a dream partnership between six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Formula One's top young star Verstappen has often been speculated over.

But Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull, who will lose its engine provider, Honda, after next season, until 2023.

Wolff is happy to have Hamilton partnered by Valtteri Bottas, the duo providing a level of team harmony much different to when the Briton was sharing a garage with Nico Rosberg.

"The situation around Max doesn't provide any opportunity now," Mercedes team principal Wolff said to the Beyond the Grid podcast.

"He's bound to Red Bull, I respect his loyalty a lot and I think it's important for Red Bull to have Max.

"There's a lot of narrative around that and Red Bull picked him up from very early on when he joined Toro Rosso. The situation is what it is and it's good for him and good for us.

"Valtteri does a great job for us, and Lewis does a great job for us and they are still at the peak of their performance levels.

"Then we have juniors that are coming up that have been with us for many years and could be the future for us. So this is what we look at."

In-form Verstappen has reached the podium in the eight grands prix he has finished in 2020, winning once and taking second place five times.

Ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton leads Bottas by 69 points, with Verstappen just 14 adrift of the Finn in third.

Bottas joined Mercedes from Williams in 2017 after the surprise retirement of Rosberg, who had just been crowned world champion after a heated 2016 title battle with his former friend Hamilton.

"Some things between Nico and Lewis we will never understand, because it goes back many years from go-karting into junior formulas," added Wolff.

"It grew from camaraderie to rivalry to animosity. They just fell out, pretty early on actually when I joined in 2013. Then it gets worse and worse and worse.

"There was a lot of negativity and that would drag the whole room down. It was very difficult. It is so refreshing that since Valtteri joined, we haven't had any of that."

Victory for Hamilton in Portugal – the first race held in the country for 24 years - would be the 92nd of his F1 career, moving him in to sole possession of the race wins record above Michael Schumacher.

The championship leader has won at three out of the last four circuits he has raced at for the first time - in Mugello this year, Sochi (2014) and Austin (2012).

Bottas, meanwhile, was unable to win at the Eifel Grand Prix last time out despite starting from pole position – the ninth time that has happened from his 14 poles.

In-form Lewis Hamilton can take the Formula One record for most race wins outright as the series returns to Portugal this weekend.

Defending champion Hamilton again tops the drivers' championship this year after winning seven of the 11 grands prix so far in 2020.

Those successes have seen the Briton seize a slice of history, tying Michael Schumacher's mark of 91 F1 victories last time out.

The Portuguese Grand Prix, which begins at 13:10 local time (GMT) on Sunday, can now provide the setting for Hamilton's big moment as he seeks to surpass the former Ferrari great.

LAST TIME OUT

Hamilton certainly enjoyed himself at the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany 10 days ago.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas had started on pole, but an early error allowed Hamilton to take advantage and he held off Max Verstappen to take the win and further increase his season lead. Bottas retired on lap 19.

Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, had been due to get his F1 bow in practice before adverse weather conditions intervened.

But Hamilton's feat - a record-equalling 91st success - meant Mick still had a part to play, handing over one of his father's helmets to the victor.

"This is such an honour," Hamilton told the 21-year-old. "I really appreciate it."
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN PORTUGAL

Hamilton is determined to ensure his looming achievement does not provide a distraction, insisting he is wary of the threat of Red Bull and Renault, whose Daniel Ricciardo finished third in Germany.

"I think Red Bull as well as Renault have really picked up their game and closed the gap, so we've got to continue to keep our heads down," he said.

But while all eyes will of course be on Hamilton, there are others who need a performance just as badly.

Ferrari have now gone seven races without a podium since Charles Leclerc finished third at the British GP. Only once since the turn of the century - in the final eight grands prix of the 2014 campaign - have the Scuderia endured a longer such run.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

More Hamilton history? - The season leader can become just the second driver - after Schumacher (5111) - to lead for 5000 laps if he runs in first place from start to finish on Sunday.

Ending the wait - The Portuguese GP is back 24 years after its previous race, when Jacques Villeneuve (Williams) won in 1996. Portimao is the fourth track to be used for this event, following Estoril, Porto and Monsant.

Another ticked off - This will be the 32nd different circuit Hamilton has raced at. He has tasted victory at 27 of the other 31 and achieved pole at 28 - both records.

Winning Williams? - Williams have won five of the past six races in Portugal, also taking pole position at five of these grands prix. No team can top their overall tallies of six wins and five poles in Portugal.

Or maybe not... - Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi are the only drivers on the grid without a single point in 2020.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 230
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 161
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 147
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - 78
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) - 68

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 391
2. Red Bull – 211
3. Racing Point - 120
4. McLaren – 116
5. Renault – 114

Sebastian Vettel should have decided to retire from Formula One rather than continue racing, according to three-time champion Jackie Stewart.

After Ferrari and Vettel opted against extending their agreement beyond this season, the 33-year-old agreed to take a seat with the Aston Martin works team from 2021.

The four-time champion has struggled to mount a serious title challenge since joining the Scuderia in 2015, winning just 14 races in an era dominated by Mercedes.

Vettel admitted prior to signing with Aston Martin that retirement was an option he was considering, and Stewart thinks leaving F1 would have been a good choice.

Stewart told Stats Perform News: "Sebastian Vettel's a very nice gentleman. He's had a wonderful career and I personally would love to see him retiring and do what I do.

"Go to some of the best events, get involved with some of the best multinational corporations. He’d be a great ambassador for the sport apart from anything else. But if he wants to continue racing it’ll be because he loves the sport."

Vettel has scored just 17 points in the truncated 2020 season, with Charles Leclerc claiming Ferrari's only two podiums of the campaign.

The Scuderia are sixth in the constructors' standings and Stewart hopes their woes this year are not a sign of a long-term decline.

"Ferrari is one of the great brands that has ever lived. For whatever reason, this year has been a disaster for them. I hope and pray that next year we can see Ferrari as they really should be," he added.

Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 F1 wins at the Nurburgring last time out and could surpass him at the Portuguese Grand Prix next weekend.

Hamilton appears on course to match Schumacher's seven drivers' titles, but Stewart feels it is impossible to determine whether the Briton is the greatest driver of all time.

"It's a fantastic achievement to win as many races as he has. He's driving definitely the best car on the track," said Stewart.

"Nevertheless, he's driven extremely well but it's very difficult to say he was the greatest driver of all time. Was [Juan Manuel] Fangio better than Michael Schumacher? You don't know that. Was Arnold Palmer better than Gary Player? Or much more importantly was he better than all of the current golfers?

"But Lewis has driven extremely well and deserves the success that he has."

Lewis Hamilton's father expressed his sadness that Michael Schumacher could not be at the Eifel Grand Prix to see his son equal his record tally of Formula One victories.

Mercedes driver Hamilton took the chequered flag for the 91st time at the Nurburgring on Sunday to draw level with the legendary Schumacher.

There was a touching moment when the German great's son, Mick, presented the six-time F1 world champion with one of his father's helmets after his record-equalling win.

Hamilton's father, Anthony, spoke of his pride over his son's achievements, but revealed his sadness that Michael Schumacher could not be present due to the serious injuries he suffered in a skiing accident in 2013.

He told Sky Sports News: "While it was an exciting day and certainly an honour to receive that from Mick Schumacher, it's also tinged with a bit of sadness because Michael's not here."

Championship leader Hamilton was taken aback by the gesture from Formula 2 driver Mick Schumacher, who was denied an F1 practice drive on Friday due to bad weather.

"Wow, I'm really, really honoured man. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that thank you," said the Briton.

"I don't even know what to say. I mean, when you grow up watching someone, you genuinely idolise them in terms of the quality of the driver they are and what they're able to continuously do, year on year and race on race, week on week with their team.

"I remember playing as Michael on the game, Grand Prix 2 I think it was.

"Seeing his dominance for so long, I don't think anyone – and especially me – could imagine that I'd be anywhere near Michael in terms of records. It's an incredible honour."

Hamilton needs one more world championship win to equal Schumacher's haul of seven.

Lewis Hamilton was "honoured" to receive one of Michael Schumacher's helmets after equalling his record for the most Formula One grand prix wins.

The Mercedes driver claimed the 91st victory of his career - a total that brought him level with seven-time world champion Schumacher - as he triumphed at the Eifel Grand Prix on Sunday.

It was the first F1 race since 2013 at Nurburgring in Schumacher's home country, and the Ferrari great's son was on hand to mark Hamilton's landmark victory.

Mick Schumacher - who was due to take part in his first F1 practice on Friday, only for the poor weather conditions to deny him the chance - handed Hamilton one of his father's iconic red helmets from the 2012 season as the Briton spoke on stage following his win.

"I'm honoured," Hamilton told the younger Schumacher. "This is such an honour; I really appreciate it."

Asked what it meant to him to receive the gift, Hamilton added: "I don't even know what to say.

"When you grow up, watching someone and you genuinely idolise them, just in terms of the quality of the driver they are, what they are able to continuously do year on year, race on race, week on week with their team...

"I remember playing as Michael on a game called Grand Prix 2. Seeing his dominance for so long, I didn't think anyone, especially me, would be anywhere near Michael in terms of records, so it's an incredible honour. It's going to take some time to get used to.

"As I came into the pitlane, that's only when I realised that I'd equalled that. I hadn't even computed it once [until] I crossed the line.

"I couldn't have done it without this incredible team, everyone continuing to push behind me and giving their everything."

It was the other Mercedes who started the race on pole and even after Hamilton claimed the lead from Valtteri Bottas on the first corner, the Finn fought back and nipped ahead again at the next turn.

However, relentless pressure from the championship leader forced Bottas into an error on lap 12 as he locked up.

Mechanical issues forced Bottas to retire not long after and Hamilton was able to emerge victorious ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo to extend his lead in the title race to 69 points.

"I had a good start, got up alongside Valtteri and we both understeered into this corner, so I tried to give as much room as possible," Hamilton added.

"He was in my blind spot so I didn't know where he was. I moved wide to the outside, he came back, he did an amazing job. I remember coming out of that corner thinking, 'Good on you, man, I'm impressed. That was good.'

"After that I just had to make sure that I tried to hang on to him for as long as possible and I managed to look after my tyres really well. I could see he was graining his front tyres, so I knew the next couple of laps were the time for me to push, then he had the lock up.

"It was not an easy race at all. The Red Bulls are so fast. Max drove extremely well. The one chance he had was at the restart, but I managed to pull away. You could see their pace at the end, we've got a serious fight on our hands."

Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record for the most Formula One race wins by triumphing at the Eifel Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion took advantage of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas' early error to seize the lead and then held off Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Nurburgring.

Bottas, who started on pole, had a rotten day in Germany, retiring on lap 19 because of a mechanical failure, with Renault's Daniel Ricciardo finishing third.

Hamilton was able to increase his lead in the standings due to Bottas' retirement, the Briton now 69 points clear with six races to go as he closes on equalling Schumacher's record drivers' championships tally of seven.

Bottas was bidding to win back-to-back races for the first time in his career but a sluggish start off the grid opened the door to Hamilton in Turn One.

However, the Finn, racing in his 150th grand prix, battled back at Turn Two to regain the lead and show the kind of fighting spirit some have accused him of lacking.

Hamilton was back ahead at the start of lap 12, though, Bottas locking up at Turn One with an error that required him to pit and drop further back.

The introduction of the virtual safety car - brought out after Kimi Raikkonen clipped George Williams on his record 324th start - resulted in both Hamilton and Verstappen pitting to further deject Bottas, whose race was run not long after.

Hamilton was cruising to victory but when McLaren's Lando Norris abandoned the race, having also battled issues with his car for much of the afternoon, another safety car was deployed to give some hope to the chasing pack.

Verstappen very nearly smashed into the back of the race leader on the restart with 10 laps to go, but Hamilton duly delivered a lap record of 1:28.487 on 52 of 60 en route to a slice of history.

In his 150th Formula One grand prix, Valtteri Bottas has the chance to win back-to-back races for the first time and simultaneously deny Lewis Hamilton a history-making victory.

The Eifel Grand Prix – which sees the Nurburgring return to the calendar for the first time since 2013 – will have Bottas starting at the front after he ended Hamilton's run of five straight pole positions.

Hamilton will be attempting to equal Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 race wins, which he was unable to do in Russia last time out when Bottas emerged triumphant.

Max Verstappen, who was second in Sochi, could also be in the hunt on Sunday after running the two Mercedes cars close in qualifying, while Charles Leclerc is bidding to inject some life into Ferrari from the second row.

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

A three-way battle between Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen looked to be going the way of the Red Bull driver as he led after the first runs of Q3, although there was under one tenth of a second between the trio.
Bottas ultimately produced a stunning lap to finish an impressive 0.256 seconds clear of Hamilton, who just edged out a game Verstappen by 0.037s.
Leclerc gave Ferrari a lift with a superb fourth place ahead of Alex Albon, equalling the Scuderia's best 2020 grid slot, having earlier eliminated team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who will start 11th, from Q2.
Multiple drivers discussed how difficult the cold conditions were, particularly as they did not have much running at the circuit after Friday's practice running was called off due to poor weather.

 


THE STARTING GRID 

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull), 6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
7. Esteban Ocon (Renault), 8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point), 10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
11. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 12. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
13. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 
15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 16. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
17. George Russell (Williams), 18. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
19. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 20. Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point)


EIFEL GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

Bottas has the chance to win two consecutive F1 races, something he has never done before. As well as denying Hamilton the chance to equal Schumacher, such a result would further reduce the deficit in the drivers' championship, which stands at 44 points.

Verstappen said after an impressive qualifying that Red Bull were continuing to close the gap on Mercedes and will hope unusual conditions – a race in Germany in October – or the front two battling among themselves could play into his favour.

Leclerc continues to get the most out of his sluggish Ferrari as the Italian team look to end a six-race run without a podium, their worst form since 2014 when they went eight without having a driver in the top three.

The pressure is on Albon once more – he starts fifth and has been out-qualified by Verstappen at every race in 2020.

The back row is more interesting than normal as Raikkonen (19th) is set to start for the 324th time in F1, beating the previous benchmark set by Rubens Barrichello, while Hulkenberg (20th) is standing in for Racing Point once more as a last-minute replacement for the unwell Lance Stroll. He previously replaced Perez for two events this year after the Mexican tested positive for coronavirus.


WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID

Valtteri Bottas (pole): "It is going to be a new day on Sunday, so I just need to focus on the small details that are going to matter and the first of those is going to be the race start. I can't enjoy the pole too much because Sunday is the day that really matters. Obviously being on pole is a good achievement but I can't say it is a turning point yet."

Lewis Hamilton (2nd): "I'm not really sure [where my pace dropped off], the grip didn't feel the same in Q3. I need to go back and have a look. I'm just trying to understand what happened. It is a long race. We will see with the weather – it is a lot cooler here, not the easiest place to overtake either, but there could be lots of opportunities, so I will be pushing hard."

Max Verstappen (3rd): "We brought a few upgrades so the car is working a bit better. Of course with only having run [on Saturday] there are still a lot of things to go through and analyse and optimise as well because of the understeer I had in the car [in Q3]. But it is definitely a good step forward so we are on the right way, I just hope we can keep heading in that direction and keep improving."

Charles Leclerc (4th): "I'm very happy. Quite surprised, to be honest, with the performance we've had this morning and this afternoon, especially in those conditions, as we were expecting to struggle in cold conditions and instead we are performing quite well. I really hope to bring a good result home – it is going to be a tricky race we have not done any high-fuel running yet, but I will try to make the best out of it."

Daniel Ricciardo (6th): "Solid one from the team again, sixth and seventh. This is a maximum downforce circuit, more like Barcelona, where we have struggled more, so it confirms the progress the team has made. Sixth is alright. We can have a good one from there and obviously Charles and Alex in front, they could be in our race."

Nico Hulkenberg (20th): "It was even wilder and crazier than last time. I was in Cologne which is an hour from here. I was due to come this afternoon anyway to do some TV stuff. I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when I see that Otmar [Szafnauer, Racing Point team principal] rings me and says, 'Hulkenberg, hurry we need you here!'"

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 205
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 161
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 128
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 65
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - 64

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 366
2. Red Bull – 192
3. McLaren – 106
4. Racing Point – 104 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 99

Max Verstappen believes his qualifying performance for the Eifel Grand Prix was further evidence Red Bull are closing the gap to Mercedes in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas took pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with Verstappen narrowly behind those two in third after showing impressive pace throughout qualifying.

After putting Mercedes' record of taking every 2020 pole under serious threat, finishing just 0.292 seconds behind Bottas and an agonising 0.037s adrift of Hamilton, the Dutchman was in an optimistic mood.

Indeed, he had felt the Red Bull could have gone even better had he not lost grip at the end of Q3.

"It was an interesting qualifying," he said. "Overall, I think we are getting closer towards Mercedes, which is very positive.

"It was a decent qualifying – it was just in Q3 when it really mattered we were understeering too much.

"When it's so cold and you're understeering so much, you're graining the front tyres, eating up the rubber, which cost me a bit of lap time.

"In a way, I am a little bit disappointed as I was expecting a little bit more [in qualifying] but it is what it is and overall I can still be happy."

On whether he also expected to challenge Mercedes in the race, when Red Bull are typically stronger, Verstappen added: "I hope so.

"It's going to be even colder on Sunday, so it will be even more interesting as to what the tyres are going to do and how they are going to behave, so let's see.

"The track is fun to drive. Just looking forward to it and seeing what we can do."

Hamilton was on pole the last time there was an F1 race at the Nurburgring in 2013 and acknowledged unknowns for Sunday, particularly after bad weather meant there was no practice running at all on Friday.

Bottas won in Russia last time out, so this will be British driver Hamilton's second attempt to equal Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 race wins.

Asked what could make the difference, Hamilton said: "It's the graining, how the tyres behave, whether it's a one-stop or two-stop race, how long the tyres will go, the start, whether there is safety car... there is a lot to play for so I need to get my head down.

"Going behind a safety car in these conditions will be tough. It's an amazing circuit, one of the historic circuits we have, so definitely great to be back here.

"When I look at the data there will be plenty of time [I could have gained]. Valtteri is obviously two tenths ahead so he did a good job and congratulations to him."

Pole-sitter Bottas is looking to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time.

"It's such a nice feeling when you get it done the last lap, with the last chance," said Bottas. "The last lap in Q3 was spot on. Just what I needed and it was nice to get it together.

"It's been pretty tricky with short practice and these conditions getting the tyres in the sweet spot on the out lap, that was one of the bigger things.

"Of course I believe I can win. That's the only goal and hopefully we can have a good start."

Valtteri Bottas continued his momentum from winning in Russia last time out by claiming an impressive pole position for the Eifel Grand Prix.

A supreme lap of one minute and 25.269 seconds on Saturday saw Bottas finish 0.256 seconds clear of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had claimed the previous five Formula One pole positions.

It was a thrilling qualifying battle between the two Mercedes cars and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who led after the first runs of Q3 but ultimately had to settle for a close third.

Charles Leclerc was outstanding to take fourth for Ferrari ahead of Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo.

In the first grand prix to be held at the Nurburgring since 2013, Sebastian Vettel will start 11th on home soil after being eliminated at the end of Q2 by a charging Leclerc.

Lewis Hamilton is excited by the prospect of a "serious challenge" at the Eifel Grand Prix this weekend after Friday's practice sessions were cancelled.

Heavy rain and fog meant the medical helicopter was unable to take off at the Nurburgring and so the drivers will only have an hour at most for practice on Saturday.

Qualifying will follow later in the day before the race on Sunday, meaning little preparation time for the first race at the German circuit since 2013.

Championship leader Hamilton, who will once again attempt to equal Michael Schumacher's record of 91 Formula One wins, concedes the situation is not ideal but the Mercedes driver is relishing the challenge.

"It's definitely a bit frustrating to miss out on days like this," the Brit said in quotes published by Sky Sports.

"We probably wouldn't have got a huge amount of running in really because we're limited on tyres, but I would have loved to done even an install lap. But everyone's in the same boat.

"But I'm definitely [excited], especially if it stays like this. Hopefully clearer skies but wet... it definitely makes it a serious challenge with less practice. So I look forward to that."

Hamilton leads the drivers' standings by 44 points from team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes have confirmed that a member of the team has tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows revealed on Thursday that an unnamed employee has returned a positive COVID-19 test.

Mercedes' announcement came on the eve of the first practice sessions at the Nurburgring following a break in the schedule last weekend.

The team tweeted "We can confirm that a team member has tested positive for COVID-19.

"This has been handled and is being handled in line with FIA protocols, working closely with the FIA."

Lewis Hamilton will get another chance to match Michael Schumacher's record of 91 Formula One race victories in Germany this weekend.

Mercedes have a huge 174-point lead over Red Bull in the constructor standings, with Hamilton 144 points ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in his quest to equal Schumacher's record haul of seven F1 world titles.

Lewis Hamilton will hope to equal the record for Formula One race wins at the second attempt at the Eifel Grand Prix this weekend.

Mercedes driver Hamilton was unable to join Michael Schumacher on 91 career victories at the Russian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

However, he now has an opportunity to achieve the feat in seven-time champion Schumacher's home country of Germany.

It could be a historic race for Hamilton, with lights out scheduled for 14:10 local time (12:10 GMT) on Sunday.

LAST TIME OUT

Hamilton's chances of equalling the record in Sochi were dealt a significant blow by a 10-second penalty for doing two illegal practice starts prior to the race.

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas consequently went on to claim a routine victory, with Max Verstappen following him over the line in second.

Hamilton was forced to settle for third, with his championship lead cut to 44 points.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN GERMANY

Mercedes have taken pole position for every race this season and Hamilton started from the front in the previous race at the Nurburgring in 2013, suggesting the odds are in their favour.

Rain could fall across all three days and cold temperatures are expected across the weekend, potentially leading to the first tricky wet race of the year.

On an unfamiliar track, the teams that manage to adapt quickest and best could well be the ones to prosper.

There will be an F1 practice debut for Schumacher's son Mick, who will drive for Alfa Romeo on Friday. Fellow Ferrari academy driver Callum Ilott will take the place of Romain Grosjean at Haas.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Same track, many guises - The Nurburgring will play host to a record fourth different F1 grand prix, having staged the German Grand Prix, European Grand Prix, Luxembourg Grand Prix and Eifel Grand Prix.

Another new winner? - Each of the past three F1 races at the Nurburgring have been won by different teams (Ferrari in 2013, McLaren in 2011 and Red Bull in 2009).

Landmark for Valtteri - Bottas is set to make his 150th appearance in F1 this weekend and could record back-to-back wins for the first time in his career.

An F1 record - Kimi Raikkonen is in line to surpass Rubens Barrichello's all-time record and start a 323rd grand prix at the site of his first pole position.

The prodigy - Mick Schumacher will take part in his first F1 free practice 3,239 days after his father's final appearance in the series (the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix).

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 205
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 161
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 128
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 65
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - 64

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 366
2. Red Bull – 192
3. McLaren – 106
4. Racing Point – 104
5. Renault – 99

Lewis Hamilton has received some good news after a deflating Russian Grand Prix, as the penalty points he received for an infringement have been rescinded by race stewards.

Championship leader Hamilton was punished after carrying out practice starts outside the designated area prior to Sunday's race in Sochi.

The Mercedes driver was handed two five-second time penalties, which he served in the pits after coming in when leading on lap 17, meaning he had to settle for a third-place finish.

The Briton was also hit with two penalty points on his Formula One super licence, taking his tally to 10 across the previous 12 months. If he received two more, Hamilton would have served a one-race ban.

However, after listening to audio, stewards accepted that it was the team at fault, as Hamilton was acting under instructions.

"The stewards received information from the team that the driver of car 44 had received a team instruction to perform the practice start in the incorrect place," a statement from the stewards read. 

"This was confirmed by the stewards having listened to the audio between the team and the driver.

"Based on this information, the stewards replace document 47 with this decision and therefore remove the penalty points imposed."

Hamilton had hit out at officials in a post-race interview with Sky Sports F1, the six-time world champion claiming: "They're trying to stop me".

"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," he said.

"I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is."

Asked if the punishment was excessive, Hamilton replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.

"They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas clinched victory, reducing the former's lead in the title race down to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.

Toto Wolff was sympathetic to Lewis Hamilton's frustrations after the Mercedes driver questioned the penalties handed to him during the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was leading in Sochi before race officials announced a pair of five-second penalties for carrying out practice starts outside of the designated area before the race had begun.

The reigning world champion ended up finishing third but questioned the ruling made by stewards, stating: "They're trying to stop me, aren't they".

Mercedes did still secure victory in the race through Valtteri Bottas - meaning it's seven from seven for the team in Russia - but Wolff acknowledged it had been a difficult day for Hamilton, with the ruling effectively costing him a shot at glory.

It was a second setback in three races for the Briton, who appeared on course to win the Italian Grand Prix in Monza before being penalised for entering the pits when they were closed.

"I think Lewis has faced a lot of adversity in his life, and to all of us the penalty seems a little harsh," Mercedes boss Wolff said in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

"I think things go against him harshly sometimes. I guess if you're the most successful driver, you have to take that sometimes. 

"First of all, like we've always done in the past, we win and lose together. We've never pointed the finger on a person or group, we've tried to analyse what we can do better, how we can improve. 

"Clearly, we've had two incidents now – Monza and here – where we could have probably have had a better judgement, all of us together, and this is something that is going to make us better in the long term. 

"Every driver that hasn't extracted the maximum points in a race is going to be unhappy. You have to respect the DNA of racing drivers, but as a team we need to be happy with the result.

"We've increased our advantage in the constructors' championship and I'm very happy for Valtteri, but I can understand Lewis' feelings too."

Hamilton's lead in the title race is now 44 points, while the penalties prevented him from equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 race wins.

On the subject of the illegal practice starts, Wolff explained how there is "room for interpretation" within the rules.

"The stewards said it's not the place where you would do a race start and I agree with that," Wolff said. "But in the director's notes, you can make practice starts after the lights on the right-hand side. And that's what he did.

"So there is room for interpretation and we clearly have to analyse why we made the mistake altogether and just take this one on the chin even though with the stewards, we agree to disagree."

Valtteri Bottas was buzzing with his victory at the Russian Grand Prix after revealing he was prevented from passing Lewis Hamilton at the start because of a "massive bee" on his visor. 

Bottas triumphed in Sochi to claim his second success of the 2020 season, in the process closing the gap on Mercedes team-mate Hamilton to 44 points in the standings. 

World champion Hamilton was handed two five-second penalties from the stewards for an illegal practice start and Bottas took full advantage, finishing comfortably clear of runner-up Max Verstappen. 

However, the Finn initially got off to a shaky start as he failed to overtake his colleague on the opening lap. He missed his braking point, which he later revealed was down to an unlikely distraction. 

"I tried [to overtake]," he said in his post-race interview. "I knew the start was going to be the first opportunity.  

"Actually, it was a bit compromised because there was like a massive bee or something that hit my visor as I was braking. 

"I couldn't really see when I should brake. So that's why I went too deep. But I knew it was going be a long race after that and, with the medium tyre, I had opportunities.  

"But obviously Lewis had penalties, so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could really control everything." 

Verstappen also profited from Hamilton's penalties and was left feeling satisfied with his second-place finish having rarely threatened at any stage to mount a serious challenge to Bottas. 

"I was just trying do my own race. I think we did everything well, and I'm very happy with second," he said. 

"After the restart I think we were a little bit slow on the medium, but once we went onto the hard tyre, I think we were a little bit more competitive, so I'm happy about that. 

"To be able to split the Mercedes' cars again, I think we can be pleased with that." 

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