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Mercedes teammates Hamilton, Bottas fastest in first British GP practice

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SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas were fastest during an incident-packed opening practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton, who is going for a fifth straight victory and a record sixth overall in his home Formula One race, clocked the best lap time at 0.367 seconds faster than Bottas.

Both drivers hope to bounce back after failing to finish the Austrian GP due to team errors last Sunday in what was Mercedes’ worst result since 2016.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari, followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Austrian GP winner Max Verstappen, racing for Red Bull.

Vettel leads Hamilton by one point after nine of 21 races thanks to the Briton’s misfortune in Austria.

Verstappen had to pull over on the finish straight with a gearbox problem before practice ended, and the Dutch driver wasn’t the only one with issues on Silverstone’s new asphalt track.

Four-time world champion Hamilton complained, “This track is the bumpiest I’ve ever been on.”

Romain Grosjean spun off at Turn 2 and slid across the gravel trap, slowing the Haas car enough to cushion his impact with the barriers.

“The car is destroyed,” said Grosjean, who blamed a bump for keeping his drag reduction system open as he turned.

Raikkonen was next to slide off going around a turn, though the Finn was fortunate to avoid major damage and was able to return with grass-covered tires.

Fernando Alonso also had a big wobble as his McLaren ran wide on Turn 13 but he managed to recover. The Spaniard finished 2.835 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Another practice is scheduled for later Friday, and there will be another on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.