Lewis Hamilton claims Formula One is trying to slow down Mercedes amid plans to ban the use of high-power modes in qualifying, though the world champion is not concerned.

A ban on powerful engine settings used specifically for qualifying has been flagged, with the FIA warning teams it intends to clamp down on the mode from the next round of the championship – the Belgian Grand Prix.

As Hamilton, who has won three races this season to be 30 points clear in the drivers' championship, prepares for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, the defending champion addressed the change.

"It's not a surprise, they are always trying to slow us down," Hamilton said. "But it doesn't really change a huge amount for us, so it's not a problem.

"At the end of the day the guys at our team have done such a great job with the engine.

"This is obviously to slow us down but I don't think they will get the result that they want. But that's totally fine if they do."

FIA secretary general Peter Bayer wants engines to run in a single mode throughout the race, removing the adjustability of power between practice and qualifying.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas added: "We are not panicking about it. The first thing that came to my mind was that in races every team has different modes how much they want to risk [the engine].

"If there was the same engine mode for everyone there could be less overtaking because everyone is just running same modes rather than playing with them and sometimes using more or less power."

Lewis Hamilton heads to the Spanish Grand Prix on the brink of making Formula One history.

The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix last weekend may not have gone according to plan for Mercedes, but by finishing second Hamilton registered his 155th podium in F1.

If the six-time champion places in the top three in Barcelona he will surpass Michael Schumacher for the most podiums achieved by a single driver in the history of the series.

It will be the second time this season the drivers have raced on three consecutive weekends and the action gets under way on Sunday at 15:10 local time (13:10 GMT).


Mercedes locked out the front row in qualifying but Red Bull went for a different strategy, starting Max Verstappen on the hard compound while the rest of the top 10 were on mediums.

While Verstappen showed tremendous tyre management in a brilliant victory, Mercedes suffered significant blistering in the Silverstone heat and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas had to settle for third behind Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc managed to sneak P4 for Ferrari, while Racing Point's continued use of rear brake ducts that saw them docked 15 points led to an appeal by the Scuderia.


Mercedes struggled in hot conditions last weekend and temperatures are expected to be high once again in Barcelona.

While the tyre allocation will be a step harder this time around, should the same issues arise it will be interesting to see how the Silver Arrows counter it on this occasion.

Racing Point were reprimanded for using their controversial rear brake ducts at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and are expected to continue running the parts.

Following Nico Hulkenberg's impressive display in that race, they are expected to have Sergio Perez back after he missed two races following positive tests for coronavirus.


Spanish milestone – This will be the 50th Spanish Grand Prix. Only Germany (64) has hosted F1 in more seasons among nations that were not on the schedule in the inaugural 1950 season.

Rallying Red Bull – Max Verstappen scored an impressive victory at Silverstone and has a chance to earn his team back-to-back wins for just the second time in the hybrid era.

Four in a row? – Hamilton has won the previous three grands prix in Barcelona and will match Schumacher's record for the most victories in a row there (2001-2004) if he triumphs on Sunday.

Ferrari driver in a spin – After finishing 12th at Silverstone last weekend, Sebastian Vettel could fail to score points in successive races for the first time since his maiden F1 season.

Home hope – Carlos Sainz has earned points in each of his five Spanish Grand Prix appearances. Only in the United States (30) has he scored more points than in his own country (26).



1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 107
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 77
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 73
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 45
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) 38


1. Mercedes 180
2. Red Bull 113
3. Ferrari 55
4. McLaren 53
5. Racing Point 41

Ross Brawn hailed Nico Hulkenberg after a seventh-place finish on his return to Formula One and revealed Mercedes almost signed the German in 2012.

Hulkenberg was unable to secure a drive for 2020 after a disappointing season at Renault last time out.

But the 32-year-old has been thrust back into the thick of the action due to Racing Point driver Sergio Perez contracting coronavirus.

Perez missed the Silverstone double-header, although car issues prevented Hulkenberg from starting the British Grand Prix.

He was back involved for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, however, and came seventh after a very impressive qualifying performance saw him third on the grid.

Formula One managing director Brawn was certainly impressed, but he admitted to long being a Hulkenberg fan, having considered the then Force India man when he brought Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes.

And Brawn believes Hulkenberg is deserving of another opportunity in the sport.

"It was going to be an incredible physical challenge for Nico Hulkenberg," he wrote in his column for F1's official website.

"I don't know how much he hurt at the end of the race, but it was great performance all weekend by someone who had just been dropped in the deep end.

"I almost signed him years ago, when I was in charge at Mercedes. If Lewis hadn't joined Mercedes when he did, Nico was our next choice.

"I've always respected Nico enormously as a driver. He's a very strong driver who should be in Formula One."

Lewis Hamilton was excited by Max Verstappen's surprise win at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix but insists Mercedes will not take their success for granted.

Hamilton has dominated Formula One, winning the past three drivers' championships, and the Mercedes superstar leads the standings again in 2020.

However, the Briton missed out on a fourth race win in succession and a second in two weeks at Silverstone on Sunday.

With Mercedes' tyres blistering in the heat, Verstappen's Red Bull car thrived in the conditions and he triumphed to move second for the year, 30 points behind Hamilton.

Defending champion Hamilton welcomed the challenge, though, telling a post-race news conference: "I think it's great.

"As I said before, I want to have races where they're challenging - like today - so I'm excited to watch this race.

"Obviously the Red Bull seems to be quite close in race conditions to us and obviously today is stronger, so it shows they don't have as bad a package as perhaps people had said in the past

"But I think it's good. It will be interesting to see the progression through the rest of the year and I definitely will not overlook them.

"I think we've got to keep a close eye on them and keep working to push forwards, because I don't think it's going to be easy by any means.

"But I don't think my team has that mentality anyway, so we just keep our heads down.

"I was hopeful today that maybe we would have – wishful thinking - some sort of race towards the end, but maybe in the future we will get to have some, a bit more."

Lewis Hamilton was grateful to salvage second place in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after Mercedes' tyres caused problems again at Silverstone.

Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton both struggled throughout with blistering that the six-time Formula One champion described as "hardcore".

Max Verstappen did not encounter such tyre issues as Red Bull's strategy to start the Dutchman on the hard compound propelled him to a brilliant victory from fourth on the grid.

Hamilton, who limped to victory at the British Grand Prix last week with a puncture, briefly pondered staying out on a risky one-stop strategy to deny his Red Bull rival late in the race.

He ultimately opted to pit for fresh tyres and, having returned to the track in fourth, promptly swept past Charles Leclerc and then Bottas to claim a second-place finish and remain in control of the drivers' championship.

"It was a massive challenge," Hamilton, who now leads Verstappen by 30 points and Bottas by 34, said after the race. 

"Congratulations to the Red Bull team and to Max. You look at the tyres and they obviously didn't have the problems we had.

"Definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore as we experienced. [We don't know the cause], not that I'm aware of.

"I'm sure the team will be working as hard as they can because we've not had [those tyre issues] before. I don't know if anyone struggled with blistering like we did.

"But I'm really grateful to progress [through the field] and manage to get my way through until the end."

Hamilton, who also had the fastest lap, continued: "That middle stint I was managing to the best of my ability, but it didn't make a single difference to that blistering.

"I was driving with half a tyre basically - it held together but I was nervous it was going to explode or something."

Hamilton was unsure there was a way Mercedes could have stopped Verstappen from triumphing under the circumstances.

"Such a difficult race," he added to Sky Sports. "I love a challenge, so it was good, but it was just unexpected. 

"The last race we had understeer and were struggling with the front tyres blistering and running out. Now this weekend, it's the complete opposite, the rear. There was nothing we could do. 

"We tried to go slower through the corners to save it and it wouldn't work. It was a real shock. I couldn't then attack Valtteri, who was pulling away [at the start]. 

"But I was really grateful in the second stint that I was able to extend. I was thinking, 'Should I stay out?'

"I know now I couldn't have matched Max's times at the end, so he would have caught me and the tyres might have blown out.

"If the rear goes, that's a spin, a crash in the wall. I think it was a good decision in the end by the team [to pit].

"I don't know how [we could have won] exactly. Could we have done better? For sure. But I still think they would have won - they didn't seem to have the same huge band on the left rear."

Valtteri Bottas felt he could have won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone but for a "sub-optimal" strategy as Mercedes suffered with tyre issues.

In hot conditions, the Silver Arrows' tyres blistered while Max Verstappen, who was the only driver in the top 10 to start on the hard compound, saw few problems in his Red Bull and claimed his first victory of the season.

Failure to extend Mercedes' run of victories at the start of the 2020 Formula One campaign was particularly painful for pole-sitter Bottas.

He finished third, also behind colleague Lewis Hamilton, and felt he had been dealt a poor hand by his team.

Bottas said on the podium the result was "not ideal" and Mercedes had been "sleeping", before explaining his frustration further to Sky Sports.

"The win should have been possible today. The pace was good," he said.

"When Max got ahead of me, I had no information to push harder, so we ended up pretty much side by side when he pitted. If I knew before that, I could pick up more pace, I had some more pace in hand.

"So I lost some track position there. And then obviously the last stint was too long for me.

"Lewis went longer for the middle stint and it worked out better. For me, the strategy was sub-optimal.

"At the end of the race, I said I didn't quite understand what happened. We are still yet to have all the debriefs. I'm sure there will be a good discussion, but it's just disappointing.

"But the Red Bull car with Max was able to drive without any blisters under their tyres, while me and Lewis had lots of blistering. I think there was a difference there.

"It's another one to learn from. We lost lots of points today, which is not good. We'll try again next week."

However, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff disagreed with his driver, saying Bottas was always unlikely to win given the conditions.

"No, the win was not there for us," he told Sky Sports. "Clearly, we were not the fastest car. Then you cannot optimise the strategy.

"Did we get it right or wrong? It's not clear. But when there is such a margin, as Max had, it was ours to settle for second and third and protect this position."

Max Verstappen admitted he was taken by surprise when a chance emerged for him to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes won the first four races of the 2020 Formula One season and looked poised to continue that dominance when they locked out the front row for Sunday's race.

However, Verstappen produced a brilliant drive to triumph from fourth on the grid, Red Bull's decision to start on the hard tyre and Mercedes' struggles in hot conditions helping him to secure a ninth career win.

The Dutchman ended up 11 seconds clear at the front as Lewis Hamilton passed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for second place late on, and the Red Bull star was shocked by how the race unfolded.

"I didn't see it coming, but after the first stint it seemed like we were really good on tyres," said Verstappen, who moved above Bottas into second place in the drivers' standings.

"Of course then it was a question mark on how Mercedes were gonna go on the hard tyre. We had a lot of pace in the car and I didn't really have a lot of tyre issues at all. We just kept pushing.

"An incredible result of course to win here, we just had a great day - everything worked out well and we had the right strategy. 

"Everything was running smoothly and I'm incredibly happy to win."

In an entertaining radio message while he was third early in the race, Verstappen refused an instruction to sit back and preserve tyres "like grandma", instead opting to put pressure on the front two.

He continued: "We haven't really had an opportunity in all the races so far to push them and I could see we were pushing them.

"So I tried to put the pressure on, they had to pit, from there on I did my own pace and built that advantage until the end."

Asked if the Red Bull car was now a Mercedes-beater, Verstappen said: "I don't know, we need to use soft tyres as they suit our car most. 

"We will see again in Barcelona, for now we are just very happy that we won."

Christian Horner took confidence from a stunning Red Bull display at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix as he revealed Max Verstappen found matching Mercedes "so easy" on Sunday.

In the second consecutive race at Silverstone, Verstappen claimed his first victory of the delayed 2020 season, ending a run of four straight wins for the Silver Arrows.

The Dutchman's tyre strategy paid off as he was the only one in the top 10 to start on the hard compound, quickly moving into position to challenge pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen hunted down the duo as Mercedes' tyres suffered and ultimately finished a fairly comfortable winner.

"It was an amazing performance today," team principal Horner told Sky Sports. "The pace in the race was beyond what we expected.

"We started on that sort of reverse strategy - Max was just chilling out at the beginning of the race and the pace in the car was just so easy today.

"Even after Mercedes pitted and went onto a new hard, we were able to pull away. At that point, you think this really is game on now."

However, Horner acknowledged similar conditions may be required for the rest of the year in order for Red Bull to challenge Mercedes in the title race.

"We probably need these tyres at most other races - and this temperature," he said. "They're a formidable opponent, but we've had a really strong performance today.

"We've beaten them fair and square, we've beaten them on pace and on strategy. There's a lot of confidence that we'll take out of this race weekend."

Red Bull's desire to capitalise on their pace advantage was evident as Verstappen told the team radio he would not sit behind the Mercedes "like a grandma".

"His grandma must drive pretty quickly," Horner joked. "We just had them covered today.

"I think there's a lot for us to understand from this race. The car worked fantastically well, with Alex [Albon] as well, and the pace was right there."

Max Verstappen stunned Mercedes by guiding his Red Bull to victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes had won the opening four Formula One races of the 2020 season, but the brilliant Verstappen ended that run by triumphing from fourth on the grid as his tyre strategy paid dividends.

Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas had to settle for third place after being passed late on by team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc took fourth for Ferrari ahead of Verstappen's team-mate Alex Albon and Racing Point's Lance Stroll, with Nico Hulkenberg dropping down to seventh and Sebastian Vettel finishing outside the points.

Lewis Hamilton would gladly trade a seventh Formula One world title to bring more inclusivity and diversity to the sport.

The world champion has been a leading voice in the fight for change amid the growing prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hamilton was one of several sporting figures to speak out against the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

The Briton has also taken a leading role in F1's End Racism campaign as part of the #WeRaceAsOne initiative.

Hamilton has made a strong start in his bid to claim a seventh title in F1, winning three of the first four races and will start second on the grid for the second of a Silverstone double header this weekend.

But ahead of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, Hamilton was asked by the F1 TV pre-race show if he would swap another title for more diversity, to which he replied: "For the change? Sure."

He added: "Winning championships is a great thing, and of course I'm going to push and see how far I can go with it, but I am the only black driver here, for whatever reason. I don't know why I was chosen to be able to do what I do in the car, and it wasn't somebody else.

"Things have happened along the way in my life, and I don't think it’s a coincidence that I'm in the position I'm in today. But there was a point where I was like, 'Jeez, just me being here is not enough. I've got to speak up. I could do more'.

"If I was to have retired a year ago, maybe nothing would have changed, I don't know. But what I love to see right now is that there is this awakening, there are people slowly [changing] – still not everyone, you still have a lot of these teams that are not saying anything, not holding themselves accountable, there’s still a lot of people [like that] out there – but it's finding a balance in how you engage those people, and yes, I hope in 10 years – I don't want it to be like 20 years' time, but I hope in a short space of time, I can see change.

"You're seeing people already [engaging], you're seeing Chase [Carey, F1 1 CEO] and the sport, you're seeing Jean [Todt, President of the FIA] who I've had a chat with, and who has hired a lady from Jamaica who's now working on the diversity campaign for the FIA.

"So you're seeing things but we need to stay on them and that's I guess part of my job being here, I think, and that means more to me, because if I'm able to look back and think, 'Yeah, I won championships but I was a part of helping shift the outlook of this sport and making it more accessible to people all over the world', I think that would be a great thing to be a part of."

When asked what he thought when people say he should remain apolitical, Hamilton said: "I don't ever listen to it. 

"Telling me to stop one thing is not going to stop me doing it, and I hope for everybody out there, nobody can tell you what to do ultimately.

"I respect people's opinions. The fact is, I live in this world – not just in this world [of F1], I live in the world and everybody's opinion matters. 

"The thing for me is that I say one thing and it travels very, very far. That’s an unbelievable power to have, that we have today in the media, being able to really push for change. I feel like I would be doing a disservice to people, to my family, to my followers if I didn't."

Valtteri Bottas will be hoping to make up for lost ground after qualifying on pole for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix this weekend.

Following the disappointment of a late puncture that saw him slip from second to 11th at the British Grand Prix and fall 30 points adrift of Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings, Bottas is primed to bounce back in part two of the Silverstone double-header.

In the same week he signed a Mercedes contract extension for the 2021 season, the Finn outpaced his team-mate to ensure he will start from the front of the grid on Sunday.

After a dramatic finale last weekend, the two Silver Arrows appear destined to fight it out for glory again.


Hamilton was on provisional pole and slightly improved on his time on his final lap. Unfortunately for him Bottas went even quicker and he had to settle for second.

Standing in for Sergio Perez due to the Mexican testing positive for coronavirus, Nico Hulkenberg guided his Racing Point to third after splitting the Mercedes in Q2.

It was another day to forget for Ferrari. They were outqualified by AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and saw Sebastian Vettel fail to get out of Q2; the four-time champion will start 11th after Esteban Ocon received a three-place grid penalty for blocking George Russell in Q1.


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


Much of the discussion this weekend has centred on Racing Point's 15-point sanction and €400,000 fine after an FIA investigation found their rear brake ducts were designed by Mercedes, breaching the sporting regulations.

The team maintain their innocence and intend to appeal the decision, while four rival squads – Renault, who lodged the initial complaint, McLaren, Williams and Ferrari – have also challenged the outcome.

Racing Point will continue to use the parts that earned the punishment so a strong display at Silverstone, something Hulkenberg will be desperate to produce having lost his seat this season, will cause further discontent in the paddock.

Verstappen starting the race on the hard compound means he will be running a significantly different strategy to the leading Mercedes.


Valtteri Bottas (pole): "To be honest I think one stop could be quite difficult here with the compounds we have here this weekend. So I think things are going to be a bit different than last weekend in terms of strategy. I'm sure the guys will be looking at all the options overnight and obviously myself the expectation tomorrow, there's nothing more than to win the race when you start from pole."

Lewis Hamilton (2nd): "At the end of the day we're drivers, we go out and continue to push. I improved over this weekend also but Valtteri did a better job at the end. I don't feel any way about it, we've got a long race tomorrow and I’ll be giving everything I can to try and beat this guy."

Nico Hulkenberg (3rd): "To be honest it's very difficult [to get a podium] and challenging circumstances, but I know I have a fast car beneath me, so it's just trying to make sure to do everything right. Obviously starting, lap one, it's going to be also new for me. But I think I'll just try to get it right with all the experience I have and then we'll race. I'll try not to think too much, just keep my head down and have a good race."

Max Verstappen (4th): "I just hope that I can have a clean start on the hard tyre. The hard tyre was last weekend's medium, so I don't think it will be too bad compared to what [the rest of the top 10] are starting on. Of course, you might lose a little with the initial launch, but I think it will be better for the first stint. Of course, it depends also if there are safety cars or not. So we just have to wait and see, but at least it's different to what other people are doing around me, and we'll see if we can do a better job."

Sebastian Vettel (11th): "We tried a lot of things and I was happy with my laps, but I don't think that there was any more to get out of the car today. I need more grip to go faster. I must congratulate my engineers for improving the car compared to last weekend, but if you look at the stopwatch there is no difference. It seems we are stuck and of course it is disappointing to be in 12th [before Ocon's penalty] with that gap between our two cars. We are where we are for a reason, we are just not fast enough. It will be difficult tomorrow to fight for points but I will do my best."

Esteban Ocon (14th): "It's a disappointing session overall as I felt my lap in Q2 was pretty good. The gap to Daniel [Ricciardo] was clearly big in that session so we need to investigate why. It could be something we just didn't understand entirely on the car after yesterday. The car felt very capable today with a bit more in hand. I just couldn't carry the speed when I needed to. We also have the incident with George [Russell]. It was no one on track's fault, but it's something we should have managed better."



1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 88
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 58
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 52
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 36
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 33


1. Mercedes 146
2. Red Bull 78
3. McLaren 51
4. Ferrari 43
5. Renault 32

Valtteri Bottas expressed his pride in driving for Mercedes after following up signing a new contract with the team by qualifying on pole position for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

With Sebastian Vettel unsigned for 2021 there had been speculation Bottas could find himself replaced at Mercedes, but he signed a one-year extension with the team on Thursday.

The Finn produced an excellent final lap in Q3 at Silverstone on Saturday, going 0.063 seconds faster than team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

"It feels good. I just love qualifying and especially when it goes well it's a good feeling," said Bottas, who dropped from second to 11th following a late puncture in last weekend's British Grand Prix and fell 30 points behind Hamilton in the standings.

"It's really nice to get everything out of myself and out of the car. Set-up wise we made good steps from last weekend - that's why I think the qualifying performance was better than last weekend - so really pleased with that. I'm proud to drive this amazing car - it's so quick.

"Of course, mentally when you're starting from pole you can only aim to win the race. Obviously, the starting point for it is good.

"I think the race pace is there, so the first job is to get a good start off the line as I had last weekend and go from there. But the mentality is try to win it, that's all."

Hamilton had been on provisional pole and improved his time with his final lap, but it was not quick enough to deny Bottas.

"I wasn't that great! But Valtteri did a good job and deserved the pole, I guess. For me, it wasn't a perfect last lap," said the six-time champion.

Nico Hulkenberg – standing in for Sergio Perez after the Mexican tested positive for coronavirus – will start the race from third following an impressive display for Racing Point.

The German was unable to start last weekend's British Grand Prix after the team failed to get his power unit firing ahead of the formation lap and he reflected on a rollercoaster return to Formula One.

"A crazy seven or eight days," he said. "Obviously last week, with the big high to come back and the low on Sunday [not starting the race], it was very extreme. This weekend I felt much better in the car, much more prepared. Quali was still tricky and in Q2 I made life hard for myself a bit and I was scared I'd damaged the car.

"Q3 was just head down, full beans, whatever I had - and a bit surprised to be honest to stand here. But obviously a big smile on my face and a lot of respect for the race tomorrow.

"It's definitely going to hurt tomorrow not having last week's experience and not having gone through the motions there with the start and everything because it's still new with this car. But we'll do what we can, I'll try to learn fast, and keep the car where it deserves to be."

On whether his performance had put himself in the shop window for 2021, Hulkenberg said: "Well, it's only Saturday, it's always Sunday that matters most.

"It's definitely a nice little highlight but it's not time to cheer yet because tomorrow is a big day."

Valtteri Bottas pipped Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position in a thrilling finish to qualifying for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Saturday.

In the same week he was handed a contract for the 2021 Formula One season, Bottas produced a time of one minute 25.154 seconds to ensure he will start Sunday's race from the front of the grid.

Hamilton's final lap was 0.063secs slower than the Finn's, denying him an eighth pole at Silverstone, which would have equalled a feat only achieved by Michael Schumacher at Suzuka and Ayrton Senna at Imola.

In the midst of a difficult week Racing Point had reason to celebrate with Nico Hulkenberg – standing in for Sergio Perez after he tested positive for coronavirus – taking third ahead of Max Verstappen, while Sebastian Vettel failed to get out of Q2.

A late puncture saw Bottas slip from second to 11th in last weekend's British Grand Prix and fall 30 points behind Hamilton in the drivers' standings.

However, he put himself in a great position to make up for lost ground in with a fine final lap late on in Q3.

Hulkenberg staked his claim for a seat next season by taking a spot on the second row alongside Verstappen, who will start the race on the hard compound.

It was a significant positive for Racing Point, who were on Friday docked 15 points and fined €400,000 after an FIA investigation found their rear brake ducts were designed by Mercedes, contravening regulations.

The team have appealed against the decision, while Renault, who lodged the initial complaint, Williams, McLaren and Ferrari have also confirmed their intention to challenge it.

Vettel showed a lack of pace on the medium compound and, despite switching to soft tyres for his final run in Q2, could only go 12th quickest.

With Charles Leclerc only fast enough for eighth, Ferrari's, and Vettel's, lacklustre campaign showed little sign of abating.

Provisional classification:

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:25.154
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.063s
3. Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point) +0.928s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.022s
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.143s
6. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) +1.274s
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.380s
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.460s
9. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +1.515s
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.624s

Mercedes dominated both practice sessions on Friday but much of the talk around the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was focused on Racing Point.

Valtteri Bottas went quickest in FP1 but Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton produced the fastest lap of the day in the second session, clocking a time of one minute, 25.606 seconds ahead of the second straight race at Silverstone.

The big story of the day, though, was the FIA docking Racing Point 15 points and handing them a €400,000 fine after it was deemed their rear brake ducts were designed by Mercedes, breaching the sporting regulations.

Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer claimed the sanction was "unfair" and that the team were considering an appeal, although they will continue to use the same parts.

A number of other teams are also thinking of challenging the severity of the punishment - though because they feel it too lenient - with the issue arising following a protest by Renault at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul was pleased action had been taken but suggested the outcome was not satisfactory.

"I think that the question of sanction is open for debate. We will consider that matter bearing in mind that the advantage that was obviously obtained will keep on going for all the season and it's a very material advantage," said Abiteboul.

Williams chief Claire Williams and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said they would study the 14-page decision before deciding whether to make an appeal.

McLaren boss Zak Brown was heavily critical and is concerned it is just "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of the similarities between the RP20 and Mercedes' title-winning car from 2019.

"My initial reactions are Racing Point has been found guilty. I am concerned they still have those [brake ducts] that were deemed illegal in Austria, on the race car now. I think that is confusing for the fans," said Brown.

"Regarding copying, obviously they claimed that they had copied the car via photography - it's clear from reading the document that that's BS. And, therefore, you have to question anything else around that car.

"So I think this is potentially the tip of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what's happened here because I don't think it's healthy for the sport. It's thrown up a lot more questions than answers.

"It's something we too are going to review quickly and understand the appeal process and whether that's something that we want to potentially participate in."

The FIA announced its intention to amend the 2021 regulations to avoid further cases of copying or cloning another vehicle.

After the governing body's investigation found that Mercedes had supplied a complete set of W10 brake ducts to Racing Point six days after they became a 'listed part' in January, Toto Wolff insisted the reigning constructors' champions had done nothing wrong.

Wolff said: "We feel 100 per cent comfortable with our position. We have read the rules over and over again. The verdict that came out today is extremely complicated and comes up with an interpretation that is new to all of us.

"We have provided certain data in 2019 which was totally within the rules. The 6th of January [part of the FIA's decision] has no material effect on any of the actions, because the whole thing was delivered much earlier, and all the CAD drawings and designs were delivered much earlier. Racing Point and ourselves [collaborated] and that was in the regulations.

"At the end, to be honest, there is zero worry on our side – and when I say zero, I mean zero – that we were in any breach, nor do I think Racing Point was in any breach.

"And I believe that if that was called to the ICA [International Court of Appeal], it would be probably a complex matter because it was very technical, but I doubt there would be any outcome."

Lewis Hamilton insisted he will sign a new contract with Mercedes, but he does not feel it is right to agree terms on a lucrative deal in the current climate.

The six-time Formula One world champion's current term with Mercedes expires after the 2020 season and there had been speculation about him potentially joining Ferrari earlier this year.

However, with all the significant seats now filled for 2021, it is assumed Hamilton will remain with the team he has been with since 2013.

The Briton, who has won each of the past three races to establish a significant lead in the 2020 Formula One season already, expects his future is with the Silver Arrows.

Yet even after his team-mate Valtteri Bottas agreed a one-year extension on Thursday, Hamilton conceded he is willing to wait to discuss his terms due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with several F1 teams having furloughed staff earlier in the year.

"Ultimately, honestly, it just doesn't feel like the right time," he told reporters at Silverstone ahead of this weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – the fifth race of the calendar.

"When you think about so many people in the world that have lost their jobs, people that are unemployed, then to sit and negotiate a big contract – it just doesn't seem like the most important thing that I need to apply time to right this second.

"I'm not talking to anybody else and I'm looking forward to continue on, particularly as we've just started a new chapter as a team, in terms of how we educate ourselves, how we understand what we're going to do to help be more diverse moving forwards and more inclusive.

"I'm super excited for what it's possible to do with Mercedes-Benz and this time moving forward. At some stage it will get done but I'm not stressed."

While he is happy for his contract discussions to wait, Hamilton is also pleased to know Bottas will be sticking around at Mercedes.

"I think consistency is always a good thing for a team, and Valtteri has had such a positive influence on the team over these five years," he added.

"He's trustworthy and does an incredible job on the track and is a great team-mate to all the people within the team so I think it's a tribute to all the hard work he's done."

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