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Hamilton: Pace ‘clearly there’ in Hungary despite practice crash

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Lewis Hamilton took heart from Mercedes’ display in practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday despite bringing his running to an early end after a crash in the afternoon.

Hamilton topped FP1 ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, but was sidelined after just 10 minutes in FP2 after spinning into the barrier at high speed.

The angle of the impact meant that Hamilton’s car emerged relatively unscathed, allowing the Briton to return to the pits under his own steam.

Mercedes opted to strip down Hamilton’s car to check for damage, preventing him from heading back out and costing him mileage compared to the rest of the field.

Rosberg went on to finish quickest in FP2, marking the first time since Romain Grosjean led FP3 in 2013 that Hamilton did not lead a practice session at the Hungaroring.

Despite crashing, four-time Hungarian Grand Prix winner Hamilton says he has a good feel for the car around the resurfaced track.

“Obviously not the greatest session for me,” Hamilton said.

“My apologies to the crew for all the hard work they have ahead to strip the car and get it back together.

“Fortunately, I got a good feel for it in the few laps that I did have and the pace is clearly there, so hopefully tomorrow I can make up for the time lost today during the morning session and come back strongly in qualifying.”

Mercedes confirmed that it is changing the front suspension on Hamilton’s car after the crash, as well as some bodywork that was damaged in the shunt.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).