Hamilton, Bottas fastest in first practice for British GP

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But Red Bull's Max Verstappen came back to earth with a bump after his victory in Austria last Sunday.

Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari's performance on Friday at the British Grand Prix suggests it has a chance to beat Mercedes to pole position.

"It was fantastic, very hard to manage the tyres, lot of blistering, but we managed to hang on", said Verstappen of Red Bull's first win at the circuit they own. There's a great energy within the team.

That was still slower than Hamilton's morning time of 1:27.487, however, with Vettel third then and half a second slower.

Mercedes' chief strategist, James Vowles, took the blame for failing to call in Hamilton for a pit stop while the safety auto was out.

McLaren ended a three-year partnership with Honda in 2017 but has also under-performed with the same Renault engines that have taken Red Bull to three victories in nine races.

The German driver, who leads by just one point going into the 10th of 21 F1 races this season, clocked the best lap time by 0.187 seconds faster than Hamilton and 0.357 quicker than Bottas.

Hamilton appeared humble at the news conference Thursday in contrast to the emotions he showed four days earlier when he realized he wouldn't finish in Austria. He did it in his first race for us in Barcelona, if you remember. "Immediately after the race, as soon as they got the auto back, I think that evening there was a fix that..."

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"I really do feel like I have the best strategist team behind me", Hamilton said on Thursday. "And the problems - we've done everything we can to make sure they don't happen again".

"It's been a really incredible journey since 2007", Hamilton said of his debut season, when he finished third in Silverstone. We haven't seen much yet, obviously we collect a lot of data but there isn't much time between sessions. Not many drivers can do that. "So I'm very privileged in that respect". Mercedes had expected to be strong and the thinner tread on the tyres being used this weekend certainly suits their cars.

Hamilton was hit with a five-place penalty in Bahrain following an unscheduled gearbox change.

"I tried [keeping DRS open through T1], I nearly ended up like Romain, so tried it [only] once", Gasly said.

They share his passion, his emotion and his commitment, as do his Mercedes team, who value these traits for all that it can mean he is a handful to manage.

Vettel was not given a warning about Sainz closing in on him over team radio, but said he still has full confidence in his team.

One distraction beyond Hamilton's control is England's World Cup quarterfinal against Sweden on Saturday.

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