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British GP: Lewis Hamilton tops practice

Silverstone: An oil pressure problem forced Lewis Hamilton onto the sidelines in practice for the British Grand Prix, but the Mercedes driver nevertheless hung on to end the day fastest of all in front of his home fans.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton 

Hamilton lapped the Silverstone circuit in one minute 34.508 seconds beating team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg by two tenths of a second.

However, it was a far from straightforward day for the Briton -- who had trailed Rosberg by seven-tenths of a second in the morning's as his Mercedes ground to a halt shortly after exiting the pits with half an hour of the afternoon session still to run.

Hamilton, locked in a closely-fought title battle with Rosberg, last stood on the top step of the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, with the victory the last in a run of four straight wins.

But a series of defeats and setbacks in the three races since, including a costly retirement from the Canadian Grand Prix, have dented his title challenge and allowed Rosberg, who hasn't finished lower than second this season, to open up a 29-point lead.

That is the largest the gap between the two has been this season and it is crucial for Hamilton to start making inroads into Rosberg's lead this weekend.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who had set the third fastest time in the morning, remained Mercedes' closest challenger in the afternoon ahead of the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo and Vettel had ended the morning session fourth and sixth, respectively and the duo appear set for a stronger race this weekend after a difficult outing at the last round in Austria.

Valtteri Bottas, fresh from having scored his maiden podium in Austria, led Williams charge in sixth.

The Finn sat out this morning's session, handing his car over to Susie Wolff, who became the first woman in 22 years to drive in an official session during a Grand Prix weekend.

Her time on track was brief however and Wolff, who is married to Mercedes motorsport boss Toto, managed just four laps before being halted by an issue with her car.

The two McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were seventh and eighth, respectively, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso ended the day tenth, the Frenchman also forced to end his session early after a suspension failure.

Austrian Grand Prix pole-sitter Felipe Massa brought the red flags out in the first session when he had a spectacular accident exiting the high-speed Stowe corner.

However, he was able to get back out for the second session and ended the day eleventh.

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