MotoGP: Marquez, Lorenzo lead the way in British GP practice at Silverstone

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The on-going battle between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo at the front of the field in MotoGP continued in practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday as they topped one session each.

Marquez and Lorenzo have won seven of the last eight races in MotoGP, with their most recent duel ending in victory for Lorenzo in the Czech Grand Prix at Brno.

In practice at Silverstone on Friday, defending world champion Marquez drew first blood by topping the opening session in the morning by finishing three-tenths of a second clear of Lorenzo.

“I’m happy with today, as things have gone quite well,” Marquez said. “It was a good day and we have made continuous positive development, improving our top lap time considerably from the first session to the second.

“The important thing is that I felt very comfortable and we are up at the top, competing at the same level as Jorge, who is very strong and riding with a lot of confidence.

“Our goal tomorrow will be to keep up the same way of working that we saw today and to further improve in any aspect where there is still room to do so. We will focus especially on setting up the bike for the race, because it will be a long one.”

Lorenzo managed to strike back in FP2 though, beating Marquez by 0.033 seconds to redress the balance at the top of the standings.

On the sister Yamaha bike, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi struggled to match the pace shown by Lorenzo and Marquez, finishing a further five-tenths of a second behind Marquez in FP1. The Italian rider finished down in P10 in FP2, almost one second down on his teammate’s time.

It was home favorite Bradley Smith who trailed Lorenzo and Marquez home in FP2, finishing just 0.193 seconds off the pace for Tech 3. Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa finished fourth in FP1 and FP2 respectively, whilst Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso ended up fifth in both sessions.

Qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone takes place on Saturday afternoon.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”