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"My view is that motorsport is not black and white", he continued, "so not every decision can be the same and I don't see the necessity to decide every time, but that's what the sport has developed into. But today has been a good start and hopefully we can improve tomorrow and kill their magic".

"But I say "we hope not" because every time a auto stops in an uncontrolled way where a failure happens and systems are shut down in a way which is unusual, we can't be completely sure until we have done all the necessary checks that all the bits of the vehicle which are sealed and which do attract penalties weren't affected".

"I just think all these things are unnecessary, because sometimes.it's not that you lose your mind or you do something insane because you intend to, but you try to push the limits and sometimes you might make a mistake". "But it is just what we want in the team".

But Red Bull's Max Verstappen came back to earth with a bump after his victory in Austria last Sunday. "I've got no time left in the tyres", said Hamilton, aware that a straightforward race win was in peril. "You need a lion in the auto that is giving it everything". That determination to win and that ambition in a situation is not an easy character trait to deal with.

The decision made Hamilton unhappy, telling his crew that they have thrown away the win. Vettel placed third, 3.18 seconds behind Verstappen.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel now leads Hamilton by one point with three races to go - including the German GP on July 22 and in Hungary a week later - before Formula One's summer break.

The 30-year-old - who is something of an anglophile, and a fan of Fawlty Towers and The Beatles - said: "I hope England goes far - and I mean it, because obviously the last World Cups many of them haven't been good for you guys". He also stresses that one of Hamilton's key strengths is that he is brutally honest with himself. In the World Constructors' Championship, Ferrari is now ahead of Mercedes by 10 points. McLaren had said in 2017, when Honda took much of the flak, that it had one of the best chassis but Brown recognised on Thursday that had not been the case. "It was damage limitation for me and a positive day".

His weekend opened with the positive start he would have wanted.

Williams Sergey Sirotkin was the first driver of the weekend to visit the gravel traps, the Russian having a spin at Club corner.

The session ended with Hamilton and Bottas looking nice and stable, and firmly in control. On this form, a sixth pole at his home grand prix on Sunday looks well within his grasp.