Hamilton praises ‘faultless’ Mercedes after comfortable Silverstone win

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Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to his “faultless” Mercedes Formula 1 team after easing to his fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on Sunday, leading home teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton went wire-to-wire to record his fourth win of the season and move to within one point of the drivers’ championship lead after Sebastian Vettel hit late trouble, causing him to finish seventh.

Hamilton was in a jubilant mood on the podium after the race, having tied the record for British Grand Prix wins and taken his fourth on the bounce, his victory streak stretching back to 2014.

“It wasn’t so easy, it’s never easy,” Hamilton said on the podium. “That was a feeling I can’t really describe. It feels amazing to be up here. I’m so proud to see all these great flags everywhere.

“The support this weekend has been immense, and I’m really proud that I can do this for you all. Thank you so much for all the support, for pushing us.

“The team was faultless this weekend. Valtteri did an exceptional job as well, so it’s a perfect weekend for us.”

Bottas battled back from ninth on the grid to finish second, completing his fightback when Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s teammate, also suffered a tire blowout in the closing stages.

The result saw Mercedes take the maximum score of 43 points from the Silverstone weekend, extending its lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to 55 points.

As well as having Hamilton just one point shy of Vettel at the top, Bottas has moved to within 23 points of the lead, creating a three-way fight at the halfway point of the season.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.