Zhou Guanyu acknowledged he is lucky to be alive following his horrific crash at Silverstone last weekend.

The British Grand Prix was red-flagged on the opening lap following Alfa Romeo driver Zhou's terrifying shunt at turn one.

After George Russell's Mercedes careered into Zhou following contact with Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri, the Chinese driver's car flipped over and subsequently shot across the gravel, over the barrier and into the catch fence protecting spectators.

There was a worrying wait at Silverstone before it was confirmed the 23-year-old was not seriously hurt.

And Zhou, who is the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One, reflected on the incident ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, for which he received an all-clear to compete on Thursday.

"I had a massive hit and flipped over, going at a very constant speed but quite fast into the gravel and I realise that I'm not getting stopped," he remembered.

"So, I tried to release myself from the steering wheel and into a very locked position, making sure I'm solid inside myself waiting for the final impact. That's what causes injury and is the big issue.

"Once I stopped, I didn't know where I was because I was upside down. Then there was some leaking, but I didn't know from where. I wasn't sure if it was my body or if it was the car!

"So, I just tried to switch the engine off. I knew if the fire started it would be difficult to get out. I don't know how I survived. But looking back, obviously the halo saved me there.

"It did not hurt, but it was very cold on my left-hand side, so I didn't know if it was blood or if I had no feeling on my left-hand side."

Zhou also paid tribute to Russell.

He did not know at the time, but the Mercedes driver stopped his car before running over to check on his counterpart, sacrificing his part in the rest of the race as a result.

"One man made conversation with me, making sure I was OK," Zhou continued.

"Looking at the pictures, seeing George jump out of the car, calling the marshals, it was very respectful and sportsmanlike. Very nice to see people like him trying to make sure everyone is safe."

Charles Leclerc has dismissed suggestions of tensions within the Ferrari camp after enduring a frustrating outing as team-mate Carlos Sainz won the British Grand Prix last week.

But the 24-year-old maintains his team could have made better decisions after he fell out of contention to finish fourth at Silverstone.

Leclerc sits third in the drivers' championship standings going into Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, trailing Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez after several underwhelming results.

The Ferrari driver has struggled since winning two of the first three races of the 2022 campaign, failing to secure a podium finish in any of his last five outings after doing so in four of his first five this season.

Leclerc had led at Silverstone before Ferrari chose not to pit him for fresh tyres during a late safety car period, allowing Sainz to clinch the first victory of his Formula One career.

Italian press reports claimed some of Leclerc's engineers subsequently refused to take part in a group photo to celebrate Sainz's win, but the Monegasque driver has told Sky Sports F1 there are no divisions within the team.

"It is a shame to see all of this type of things," Leclerc said in Austria.

"It is definitely not what is happening inside the team. We are a very united team, we've always been, and it's not these difficult races that will make it change.

"Were we disappointed after last weekend? I think we were because we were one-two, and we finished one-four, so part of the team were disappointed. But this was definitely not the reason whatsoever for not everybody being on the picture.

"Everyone was very happy for Carlos, and this is the feeling that there is inside the team.

"One of the strong points we have as team-mates and as drivers [is] a team spirit that we have in Ferrari and these things are always under control."

But Leclerc was still not entirely happy with the team's strategy last time out, adding: "There are things we could have done better.

"But we know where we did the mistakes and I hope we can grow from that.

"Me personally, there's nothing I could have done differently in a way. As a team, we have changed a few things already, just in the way of communication throughout the race, to be ready in that particular moment.

"Once a safety car is out, you need to take a decision there, and if you are not ready for that, it's tricky."

Ferrari have slipped to a distant second in the constructors' standings after Red Bull recorded three one-twos in the last seven races, Verstappen claiming six victories in that time.

George Russell says Formula One must learn lessons from the "scary" Zhou Guanyu crash that overshadowed Sunday's British Grand Prix.

The race at Silverstone was red flagged early on after Russell was clipped by Pierre Gasly on the first corner and subsequently caught Zhou.

Zhou's Alfa Romeo flipped over, rolled numerous times and only stopped when hitting the safety barrier in front of the spectators.

The 23-year-old was stuck upside down in the car due to being wedged below the fence, with safety crews struggling to reach him as the race was delayed by an hour.

While Zhou later provided an update to confirm he was "okay", Russell hopes governing body the FIA will thoroughly investigate the incident so a repeat can be avoided.

"Firstly, I'm glad to see Zhou's okay," Russell said. "It was an incredibly scary incident, not just for him but for everyone in the crowd as well. It's never nice to see.

"It was horrible. In that position he was stuck there, with nothing he could have done. We need to have a think to avoid a car being stuck in such a fine gap.

"The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, something to learn…"

Zhou, who is debuting this season in F1, was taken to a nearby hospital for checks and released later on Sunday.

He put his lucky escape down to the halo head-protection device that has been used since 2018.

"It was a big crash and I'm glad I'm okay," he said. "The marshals and the medical team at the track were fantastic with their quick response.

"I also owe my thanks to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done, and they keep doing, to improve the safety of our cars.

"The halo saved me, and it goes to show that every step we take in improving our cars has real, valuable results."

Williams driver Alex Albon also required medical attention following a separate incident in the early throes of an action-packed race that was won by Carlos Sainz.

Albon was catapulted into the pit wall after being rammed by Sebastian Vettel, though like Zhou he escaped without any physical injuries.

"I'm very glad that everyone else involved in the first-lap incident is okay," he said. "Thank you to the medical staff at the track and Coventry hospital.

"It's a shame the race ended before it began today but we are already fully focused on Austria [this coming weekend]. Bring on the next one."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto insists there is nothing to fix internally with Charles Leclerc, after he dropped from first to fourth while team-mate Carlos Sainz won Sunday's British Grand Prix.

At the race's conclusion, Binotto briefly addressed a visibly disappointed Leclerc in parc ferme, whose pace dropped off on degrading hard tyres following a safety car with 14 laps remaining.

Leading the race at that point, Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be "hard" to keep the chasing pack on soft tyres behind him, but Ferrari opted to keep him out while bringing Sainz in for a set of soft tyres.

Asked about the exchange, Binotto sought to clarify the exchange was more to congratulate Leclerc on his drive and overall pace given the circumstances.

"There is nothing to sort out internally," he told Sky Sports. "I think it was simply to tell him 'I understand your disappointment but you did a fantastic race today.' Fighting at the start, fighting later on when he was on the hards and the others were on softs.

"I think the way he was driving there to take positions was amazing, so being happy is difficult, but staying calm and being positive is important.

"For us it was clear not stopping Charles, keeping track position and stopping Carlos because he was the only one who could have stopped. We were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs, and that didn't happen."

Despite Leclerc besting him for pace in the earlier stages of the race as Red Bull's Max Verstappen surrendered the lead, Sainz capitalised with his soft tyres after the restart for his maiden race win in Formula One.

After taking pole position in similarly volatile circumstances on Saturday at Silverstone, Binotto complimented the 27-year-old for his consistency and ability to be in position to take advantage.

"I think that's the strength of Carlos, no?" he said. "Always trying to be there and get the opportunity. Yesterday, in qualifying maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and made the pole.

"That's his strength, to be consistent to the end, to the chequered flag and get the opportunity when the opportunity is coming. For him, I'm really very happy because it's his first victory.

"I think, one, that was important for him and with Ferrari it's even more important. So, I'm very pleased and I think he deserved it."

Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

"I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

 

"As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

"Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

"I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

Formula Two chiefs found Israeli driver Roy Nissany "wholly responsible" for the horror crash that saw a rival driver land on top of his car in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Nissany, a 27-year-old who races for DAMS and is a member of the Williams driver academy, escaped largely unscathed from the dramatic incident thanks to the Halo driver protection device on his car.

Moments after making an error and running wide at Silverstone's Stowe corner, Nissany's DAMS made contact with the Prema Racing car of 19-year-old Norwegian Dennis Hauger, who was knocked off the track, before Nissany shuffled back into the pack.

His driving was heavily criticised by race bosses, and it almost had disastrous consequences when Nissany turned the Vale sharp corner that followed, as Hauger's out-of-control car came bounding over a kerb and landed on top of the DAMS that had just knocked the teenager off course.

Fortunately for all concerned, there was no tragic outcome.

Nissany wrote on Twitter: "Thank you all so much for the concern. I'm ok, it’s part of racing and luckily the halo was there for me. We'll recover and come back stronger for Austria."

Yet Formula Two race stewards imposed a punishment that will take effect in next week's race at Spielberg, handing Nissany a five-place grid penalty and saying he had "fully accepted blame".

In a statement, they said: "Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that car 16 [Nissany's DAMS] left the track at turn 15 after making an error.

"The driver rejoined the course at the exit of the corner and rather than focusing on a safe merge into traffic, made an unpredictable and unsafe move to defend his position that initiated the contact with car 1 (Hauger's Prema). Car 16 was wholly responsible for the collision and fully accepted blame for the incident."

The stewards' statement confirmed the five-place grid penalty for next week in Austria.

Lewis Hamilton snatched third place at the British Grand Prix and hailed his Mercedes team for making another positive stride after their difficult start to the Formula One season.

The seven-time world champion has secured back-to-back podium finishes for the first time this season, with Mercedes utilising upgrade packages to alleviate the issues they encountered in the first chunk of the campaign.

While they remain off the pace of the title-fighting Red Bulls and Ferraris, Hamilton believes the performance at Silverstone was another significant step in the team's recovery.

"I gave it everything today, trying to chase down those Ferraris. Congratulations to Carlos, they were too quick for us today," he said.

"In the end, I was in amongst that battle with Checo [Sergio Perez], those guys were just too quick on the straights for me today.

"I'm so grateful for the hard work all the team did to make an upgrade here, we got a step closer to them, so we need to keep pushing."

Hamilton, who was congratulated after the race by Hollywood star Tom Cruise, said: "We lost a bit of time in the pit stop, then I was chasing and chasing and chasing, but the pace was great on both sets of tyres. At the end, it was a little bit difficult; once you get a Red Bull behind you, they are so fast on the straights. 

"We've got some improvements to make, but this is a huge bonus for to be on the podium."

Hamilton paid tribute to the home fans at Silverstone following what has been a record-breaking attendance for the British Grand Prix, with over 400,000 attending across the four days.

"I have to give it up for this crowd, we've had the biggest show in history for an event in the UK, so I really have to say thank you to everyone for incredible support," he added.

"We don't see this anywhere else around the world, this is literally the greatest group we get to see."

Carlos Sainz secured the first win of his Formula One career in a dramatic British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where Zhou Guanyu was involved in a huge crash.

The 10th race of the 2022 F1 season saw another significant swing in the title race, with Max Verstappen's lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez taking a dent after the defending champion sustained floor damage.

Sainz's victory – in his 150th grand prix start – was not as comfortable as he would have liked, with the opportunity seemingly having passed as Ferrari ordered him to relinquish his position to team-mate Charles Leclerc as he lacked pace but then benefited from a late safety car, retaking the lead after changing to soft tyres.

A terrifying crash on the opening lap involving five cars left George Russell, Alex Albon and Zhou out of the race and a red flag waving, with the latter left upside down and stuck inside his Alfa Romeo for a lengthy period before being taken away on a stretcher, though thankfully the message from the team was that he was okay.

Under the red flag restart, the initial grid order was reinstated and Verstappen, who had overtaken Sainz, was unable to repeat his feat, while Perez had contact with Leclerc that resulted in the Mexican driver tumbling down the order after an early pit stop.

An error from Sainz on lap 10 saw the Spaniard run wide and onto the grass, with Verstappen taking the opportunity to seize the lead, but his advantage lasted just two laps as he ran over a piece of debris and suffered floor damage, resulting in a significant loss of pace even after a pit stop.

Sainz pitted at the end of lap 20, with Leclerc following suit six laps later to leave Hamilton in the lead, but a slow pit on lap 34 left him adrift of the two Ferraris, putting Leclerc in the lead after Ferrari swapped positions prior to Hamilton's stop.

Esteban Ocon's breakdown on the old pit straight on lap 39 resulted in a safety car, with Leclerc, who did not pit for soft tyres, overtaken by Sainz – leaving Leclerc, Hamilton and Perez fighting for a podium finish and exchanging positions multiple times.

Perez's promising push

Perez's early pit stop looked to have ended his hopes of a podium finish, but he was a major beneficiary of the safety car as it allowed him to take his required pit stop without losing time, sitting fourth for the restart.

A thrilling battle with Hamilton and Leclerc saw him go wheel-to-wheel with both drivers before taking them both, securing a second-place finish that moved him 34 behind Verstappen in the championship standings. 

Russell's record ends

Russell headed into his home Grand Prix with the tag of Mr Consistent, standing as the only driver in 2022 to finish all nine rounds in the top five, but that run came to an end at Silverstone following the collision that resulted in a red flag.

The early end to his race also means he finished behind Hamilton for the second race in a row – the first time since his move to Mercedes that he has been outperformed by his team-mate in back-to-back race weekends.

IN THE POINTS

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +3.779
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.225
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +8.546
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +9.571
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +11.943
7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +18.777
8. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +18.995
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +22.356
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +24.590

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

Constructors

1. Red Bull 328
2. Ferrari 265
3. Mercedes 204
4. McLaren 73
5. Alpine 67

George Russell wants to better Lewis Hamilton this season, but the Mercedes man claimed he will not view his Formula One campaign as a success if he does so.

The Mercedes pair have failed to match the pace of rivals Red Bull and Ferrari this year, effectively confirming an end to the team's monopoly on the Constructors' Championship.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton in particular has struggled after his controversial last-gasp title loss to Max Verstappen last year, who is on course to defend his title.

That has led to questions over whether Russell is emerging as Mercedes' nominal first-choice driver, with the 24-year-old having nabbed three podiums to Hamilton's two so far in 2022.

But Russell will not view beating his team-mate as the bar for success.

"Obviously, I want to beat my teammate and I’m not going to take offence if he says the same," he told The Guardian ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

"But I would not see my season as a success purely because I've finished ahead of him more times than he had finished ahead of me.

"I would see it as a success if I was standing at the top step of the podium."

Russell grew up idolising Hamilton, who has been one of the sport's dominant forces since he broke through in 2007, and the Briton has nothing but respect for his team-mate.

However, the nature of their competition makes it difficult to form a friendship that would not get in the way, much in the sense Hamilton's bond with former Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg deteriorated amid a testy title tussle.

"I guess if you took an average look across F1 team-mates, that is probably the case," Russell added.

"There are a lot of people who get along in this paddock but overall, we are all fierce rivals. We are all here to be competitive and to try and win. You are in a battle."

Hamilton will start fifth on the grid at Silverstone, while Russell had to settle for eighth in qualifying.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has warned the FIA set a dangerous precedent with regulations, after a progress update on their bouncing technical directive was issued ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The technical directive was controversially added at the Canadian GP to tackle the "safety issue" of aggressive bouncing drivers experienced at recent street circuits in Baku and Miami, as a result of aerodynamic changes to this season's cars.

Formula One's governing body analysed data captured in Montreal in order to devise a metric that measures vertical acceleration loads to ultimately limit oscillations, something Horner has been outspoken against.

While safety is the FIA's primary concern in limiting the porpoising experienced so far this season, the Red Bull principal believes it is wrong for the FIA to overtly dictate how the cars are set up.

"It is too late in the day to be introducing changes for next year," Horner said. "We haven't governed for that and the cost involved, sometimes the unintended consequences for changing philosophies, it will affect what you carry over and it will affect the design and development.

"The most important thing and biggest way to achieve stable costs is stability. The cars will converge. You can see that already, the cars are certainly looking more familiar and that will continue over the next six-to-nine months.

"The most important thing is don't d*** with it, leave it alone and the teams will sort it out."

Mercedes have experienced significant 'porpoising' issues which have in turn affected their performance, with Horner previously suggesting they are trying to make as much of an issue out of it as possible.

It is understood, however, all 10 teams performed within the metric's parameters in Canada.

Meanwhile, Red Bull lead both the driver's and constructor's standings coming in Sunday's race at Silverstone.

"I understand on the grounds of safety that this is being introduced because the porpoising on a limited amount of cars is obviously at an extreme level," Horner added.

"They [the FIA] are keen to have a mechanism to control that but hopefully it is only something that will be there for this year as it is something that hopefully all the teams will be on top of and cars will converge next year.

"It is certainly not a precedent that we want to set otherwise setups will be dictated by FIA directives."

Charles Leclerc has made it clear he intends to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, while suggesting he expects Ferrari to issue team orders.

The Scuderia driver has seen his title bid take a significant hit in the past few race weekends, sustaining a power unit failure in Baku and taking a penalty in Canada that saw him start at the back of the grid.

That has left Leclerc with a huge disadvantage in the championship chase – now 49 points behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen – and his attempts to improve this weekend come amid increased competition.

Mercedes appear to have bounced back after their troubles in the earlier stages of the season, while Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz also seems to have found his rhythm – pushing Verstappen all the way in Montreal before securing a first pole position for Sunday's race at Silverstone.

While Leclerc is delighted for Sainz and made it clear the team come first, he hinted he expects Ferrari to make a strategic call for the race win if the opportunity materialises.

"If I'm happy to help Carlos to win his first race tomorrow? I think of course, I will be very happy if Carlos wins the race tomorrow, but I'm not going to hide that I want to win, too," Leclerc told a news conference.

"But I think what is most important is that we finished one-two, whatever way around it is, and if we can play strategic moves in between the cars, I'm pretty sure that we will. 

"So, let's see how it goes tomorrow. But again, I feel confident with the car. So, let's wait and see."

Dry running was restricted in the build-up to Sunday's race, with qualifying a washout, but better weather is anticipated for the race, and Leclerc added he is confident with the car's set-up.

"Much happier this morning, compared to yesterday. Yesterday, it was very, very difficult to put a lap together," he said.

"But this morning, I felt quite confident with the car. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton was angered to see sections of the Silverstone crowd booing Max Verstappen during qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

Reigning Formula One world champion Verstappen was greeted by a chorus of jeers before conducting a post-qualifying interview on Saturday, having had to settle for second on the grid after being pipped by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who claimed the first pole position of his career.

Verstappen, who recorded a time less than a hundredth of a second slower than Sainz in treacherous conditions, spent the 2021 season locked in a dramatic and at times ill-tempted title tussle with Hamilton.

The duo were involved in a collision on the same course last year, before Verstappen clinched his first title at Hamilton's expense in contentious circumstances in December.

Verstappen also courted controversy earlier this week when he suggested Nelson Piquet's alleged use of a racist slur to describe Hamilton had been "blown out of proportion."  

Speaking after qualifying in fifth, Hamilton suggested last year's battle with Verstappen may have antagonised the Silverstone crowd as he refused to condone the reception afforded to the Red Bull driver.

"I think we are better than that and I definitely don't agree with the booing," Hamilton said.

"We should be here pushing everybody and it doesn't make any difference.

"But I do really appreciate the support I have. Maybe some of them are feeling the pain from last year. Either way, I appreciate it."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton's sentiments, asserting: "That is unsportsmanlike. If you’re not into the other guy, just remain silent. 

"I don't think any of the drivers deserves booing, whatever happened last year. Being booed is abusive and there is a certain limit which we shouldn’t overstep."

Meanwhile, Verstappen, who is targeting a third successive race victory on Sunday, insisted the hostile atmosphere did not faze him.

"It was a bit disappointing because I couldn't really understand [interviewer] Billy [Monger]," he joked.

"If they want to boo, they [can] do it. I'm always happy to be here, it's a great track and a great atmosphere in general.

"Maybe some of them don't like me, they're all entitled to their own opinions. I don't care."

Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the "small step forwards" taken by Mercedes after setting the second-fastest time in practice ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The Briton was 0.163 seconds slower than pace-setter Carlos Sainz in FP2, while compatriot Lando Norris was third and championship leader Max Verstappen in fourth.

Hamilton has yet to win a race this season, but he offered plenty of promise heading into a big weekend on home soil at a packed Silverstone with his performance in practice.

However, the seven-time world champion offered a word of caution over the ongoing porpoising issue that has dominated recent races.

"It's bouncing still, quite a bit," he said. "Not necessarily on the straights but through the corners it's pretty harsh – not physically harsh but in the car on the tyres and everything.

"So we still have work to do but it feels like a small step forwards.

"Our long run pace isn't as good as the other guys but it's not miles off. We've definitely made an improvement. I'm sure overnight we can work and improve the car a bit more."

Hamilton may have endured a difficult campaign to date, lagging as he does 98 points behind leader Verstappen, but he boasts an impressive record on his home turf.

The 37-year-old has won the British Grand Prix eight times and could become the driver to have won the most races at a single Grand Prix with victory this weekend.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have recorded eight of the last nine wins at Silverstone, while also taking eight of the last nine poles.

McLaren driver Norris looks good value to challenge for a second podium of 2022 after a surprising rise up the timesheets, having finished 15th last time out in Canada.

"As good as it looked, it is still difficult to put things together and be consistent but I am happy," he said.

"The car seems to be in a decent place, at least a little better than we were expecting."

Friday was rather unimpressive for Red Bull's Verstappen, who has won six of the nine races this year, including five of the last six.

But the Dutchman – who is out to surpass Valtteri Bottas and equal Rubens Barrichello as the driver with the eighth-most podiums ever (68) – is confident of finding improvement.

"It's always a bit tricky, of course, after not driving in FP1 and then FP2 becomes a bit of guessing, let's say it like that," Verstappen said. 

"It was maybe not ideal, but also not a big issue. I think we know what we have to work on and that's what we'll try to do overnight. 

"But, again, tomorrow probably it's raining so you have again different kinds of conditions. This time probably was not amazing, but it was also not really bad."

Max Verstappen has stated Nelson Piquet is "not a racist" but condemned the Brazilian's "very offensive" slur towards Lewis Hamilton.

The former Formula One champion has faced backlash after an interview emerged following last season's British Grand Prix in which he was alleged to have used a racial slur in reference to Hamilton, prompting widespread criticism across the F1 paddock.

Verstappen has condemned the comments from Piquet, which he said were "very offensive", but he defended the character of the 69-year-old, who is the father of his partner Kelly.

"I've spent a bit of time with Nelson, and he's definitely not a racist, and he's actually a really nice and relaxed guy," he told reporters on Thursday.

"The statement he released, you can see the word in two ways, but I think it's still better not to use it.

"It's not only about that word, using offensive language to anyone, any colour, is not correct. That's to anyone in the world, not just to Lewis specifically.

"I think he realised it was probably not the correct word to use, and clearly it is not.

"It can be interpreted in two ways, and of course people pick up on the bad side and of course it gets really blown, I think, out of proportion.

"I know Nelson personally and people of course label him as a racist now, which I don't think he is, but I fully agree that you cannot use these words."

It has widely been reported F1 will now ban Piquet from the paddock, but Verstappen added he did not feel that would be the correct move.

"When you ban people, you are actually not helping the situation," he said. "You're not talking.

"You have to communicate. It's really important, because if you just ban, it's not helping what you're trying to enforce."

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton believes the United States and the United Kingdom have "gone backwards" following a number of political decisions.

Last week, the Supreme Court in the US overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case and removed the constitutional right to abortion – with individual states now able to make their own laws.

Meanwhile, the UK is still adjusting to its exit from the European Union and faces a cost-of-living crisis

Speaking ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix, F1 superstar Hamilton condemned the state of affairs in both countries.

"America has gone backwards. Everything happening in the UK has gone backwards. People are struggling. We have to pull together," he told a news conference.

Hamilton had previously addressed the matter of abortion ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix earlier this year, where he made his feelings on the matter clear.

"I love being in the States. But I can't ignore what's going on right now and what some in the government are trying to do to the women who live here," he said.

"Everyone should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies. We can't let that choice be taken away.”

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