Published: Sat, July 08, 2017
Technology | By Ramiro Moody

Hamilton set for grid penalty after gearbox change

Hamilton set for grid penalty after gearbox change

Hamilton laid down the mother of all markers in FP1, topping Vettel's best time on supersoft tyres by nearly half a second, on the hardest compound available this weekend, softs.

Asked about the incident and how it has impacted on his preparations this week, Hamilton said: "I have been training, keeping my head down, staying focused and staying quiet and making sure I came here healthy and strong so we can fight".

The British driver, who won here from the front previous year, was 0.147 seconds faster than championship leader Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari in the afternoon and 0.19 ahead of Max Verstappen's Red Bull in the morning.

Valtteri Bottas, who finished third in both sessions, said Mercedes' new parts for this weekend - which include a "new front wing, nose [and] floor" - were working as expected.

That may give Mercedes pause for thought heading into Saturday's (Sunday NZT) final practice and qualifying.

Two weeks ago in Baku, an irate Vettel swerved into Hamilton, albeit at slow speed, because he thought the British driver slammed his brakes on recklessly late, right in front of him, seconds earlier.

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"There's been a couple of Fridays that we've started the weekend with not a well-balanced auto at all, and now at least it is more or less there, definitely much better in practice two", he said.

"This track punishes you if you make a mistake, and I tested those limits", added Bottas.

The ninth race on the calendar is unlikely to create as many headlines as its predecessor, unless Vettel decides he quite fancies a one-race holiday.

Fernando Alonso was eighth best in P2 on an encouraging day for the struggling McLaren team.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth, 0.449s off title rival Hamilton, and was one of the cars to spin early in the session after losing the rear of his auto on the Turn 1 apex.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both recovered from early spins to finish P4 and P6 respectively, with four tenths separating the two Ferrari drivers on the supersofts.

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