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F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen backs Lewis Hamilton as Merc star attacks 'irrelevant' Bernie – Express

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Lewis Hamilton could be banned from this weekend’s British Grand Prix as his exemption from the FIA’s jewellery ban comes to an end. It means the seven-time champion could be hit with severe penalties if he tries to compete with any jewellery on during tomorrow’s free practice sessions.
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It’s a big weekend for Mercedes who have claimed they are optimistic of being able to compete closer to the front. The team are bringing a set of new upgrades to the car for the British Grand Prix as Hamilton and George Russell aim for glory on home turf.
The Mercedes has looked more competitive at traditional purpose-built trace tracks with smoother surfaces compared to the many bumpy street tracks seen so far. However, Red Bull have so far dominated proceedings in 2022 with Max Verstappen enjoying a commanding lead at the top of the standings.
The Dutchman is now almost 50 points ahead of his early season rival Charles Leclerc after Ferrari mechanical failures and strategy mistakes have cost the Monegasque.
Max Verstappen has defended Nelson Piquet, claiming the Brazilian is “not racist”. 
The Dutchman’s girlfriend Kelly is the daughter of Nelson Piquet so has spent time with the three-time champion. 
He stressed Piquet was “a really nice guy” but still accepted his comments were “not correct”.
Verstappen said: “I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson – more than the average person in general – and he’s definitely not a racist. He’s actually a really nice and relaxed guy.
“The wording which was used – even though there are different kinds of cultures and it’s probably something they said when they were younger – was not correct.”
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Lewis Hamilton has hit out at the FIA as fears grow he could be banned from this weekend’s British Grand Prix over the FIA’s jewellery ban. 
The FIA can suspend Hamilton from the weekend if he wears jewellery in Friday practice tomorrrow. 
However, Hamilton stressed he would be racing this weekend suggesting he will follow the rules. 
But, the seven-time champion took the opportunity to make his stance on the rule clear. 
He said: “With all due respect it’s kind of crazy to think that with everything going on in the world, that’s the focus for people.”
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Max Verstappen has thrown his support behind Lewis Hamilton after his girlfriend’s father, Nelson Piquet, made an apparent racist remark about the Mercedes star. 
Reports claim Verstappen’s girlfriend Kelly liked a social media post defending her father’s comments.
But, the Dutchman has instead thrown his weight behind Hamilton, claiming the langauge Piquet used was “not correct”.
He said: “In general I think all over the world, not only in Formula One, it’s not correct to use these words. 
“That already starts with education, nowadays at a younger age, at home and in school. You need to be taught these kind of things cannot be said or used in general.”
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Lewis Hamilton has hit back at “irrelevant” Nelson Piquet and Bernie Ecclestone as the race row continues. 
The seven-time champion claimed some of the sport’s older figures should no longer be given a chance to speak. 
It comes after Nelson Piquet made an apparent racist remark about Hamilton on a Brazilian podcast. 
Bernie Ecclestone then claimed Hamilton should just brush aside the abuse.
Hamilton said: “It is not helpful the comments that we are seeing from these people. The last couple of weeks I don’t think a day’s gone by where there’s not been someone from one of the older [people], that havent been relevant in our sport for decades, trying to say negative things and try and bring me down.
“But I’m still here, I’m still standing strong and I’m focussed on my work and really trying to push for diversity and inclusion.”
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Nelson Piquet has been banned from Silverstone just days before the British Grand Prix. 
The BRDC said Piquet’s comments were “unacceptable” and was “wholly inappropriate”.
A statememt said: “The BRDC Board has concluded that Mr Piquet Sr’s use of racially offensive language to describe a fellow BRDC member (and 7-times World Champion) is unacceptable and represents conduct that is wholly inappropriate for an Honorary Member of the BRDC, notwithstanding his subsequent apology.  
“Accordingly, we have advised Mr Piquet Sr that his membership has been suspended with immediate effect.”
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Bernie Ecclestone claims he was “surprised” Lewis Hamilton didn’t just “brush aside” apparent racist remarks from Nelson Piquet. 
The former F1 boss defended Piquet’s comments, claiming his phrase was not meant to be something bad. 
Ecclestone said: “I’ve known Nelson for an awful long time. I was with him a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the sort of thing Nelson would say meaning something bad.
“He probably thinks lots of things he says which might upset us or might feel a little bit offensive…. to him it’s nothing. It’s just part of conversation.”
Piquet has also denied claims his comments were racist and called for an end to discrimination in sport.
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Max Verstappen has opened up on his relationship with Lewis Hamilton a year on from his crash at the British Grand Prix. 
The Dutchman claimed he has “no hard feelings” for Verstappen or Silverstone after the high-speed 51G crash. 
He said: “I don’t have any hard feelings. And I also think very easily I can put these things aside. Of course, it wasn’t nice what happened, but at the end of the day, you deal with it.
“It wasn’t a nice impact for me personally, but we go out there again and try to win of course.”
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Lando Norris has claimed George Russell is a different person since joining Mercedes at the start of the season.
The McLaren star said he feels the extra pressure of having Lewis Hamilton as a team-mate is partly to blame.
He added:”Growing up with George for instance, was a lot of fun.
“He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him.
“George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular.”
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Lewis Hamilton may be unable to compete in this weekend’s British Grand Prix as his exemption over F1’s jewellery ban comes to an end. 
Hamilton will not be allowed to wear any jewellery inside the car and could face punishments if he does in tomorrow’s free practice sessions. 
The stewards could also issue repirmands and fines for any breach of the rules. 
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F1 have released a statement distancing themselves from ex-boss Bernie Ecclestone. 
It comes after Ecclestone praised Vladimir Putin on a TV interview with Good Morning Britain. 
He claimed he would still “take a bullet” for Putin and said he was a “first class person”.
An F1 statement read: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport.”
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Mercedes will bring a range of new upgrades to the British Grand Prix in a bid to close the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull. 
Team principal Toto Wolff admitted the team have “some improvements coming” as he claimed the team have now found a clearer development direction.
He said: “We know the top two teams have a considerable advantage. Our challenge is to close that gap.
“Silverstone has been good to us in the past; we have some improvements coming; and it’s a smoother track. We’re aiming to make another step forward.”
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