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Lewis Hamilton: 'I am not feeling any pressure'

Lewis Hamilton: 'I am not feeling any pressure'
© Reuters
The seven-time champion ran off the Baku course as he missed the chance to grab back the points lead in Azerbaijan.

Lewis Hamilton said he is not wilting under the pressure from championship rival Max Verstappen – insisting he was not to blame for his late mistake in Azerbaijan.

Hamilton had the opportunity to capitalise on Verstappen's high-speed puncture in Baku to move as many as 14 points clear of his Red Bull rival.

But the seven-time world champion ran off the road as he attempted to pass Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez for victory on the penultimate lap.

It later transpired that Hamilton, 36, had inadvertently hit a button on his Mercedes steering wheel which effectively left him with no brakes in his assault on Perez.

Hamilton has been largely flawless in his march to six of the last seven world championships, but his error at the last race was his second in six rounds after he sild into the tyre wall as he hunted Verstappen at the rain-hit race in Imola.

Gerhard Berger, the former Ferrari and McLaren driver, this week claimed that the presence of Verstappen is placing greater strain on Hamilton.

But speaking ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit, Hamilton, who is four points behind his rival, said: "Max was not in the race at the time so I definitely wasn't under pressure from him.

"I don't feel any pressure, I feel pretty relaxed and you cannot always be perfect.

"A mistake is often when you drive off the track after missing your braking point or hitting the wall but it was an unforced error in Baku that could have happened in any point but it hit us hard.

"I don't count it as a mistake and I don't even know what the mistake before that was."

Hamilton also revealed that the so-called "magic" button on the back of his steering wheel – which helps him increase tyre temperature by altering the brake balance – has been covered to avoid a repeat of his accident in Baku.

Verstappen and Red Bull hold the initiative in both the drivers' and constructors' championships following two poor rounds in Monaco and Azerbaijan for Mercedes.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who started 10th and finished only 12th in Baku, is facing increasing scrutiny over his seat at Mercedes, with Englishman George Russell waiting in the wings.

Bottas has slipped to sixth in the standings and 58 points behind Verstappen following his worst start to a season in six years with the Silver Arrows.

"I have not thought about the future that deeply," said the Finn.

"You cannot block the noise that is around and every season. It is the same, the same questions and the same speculation and that is part of the sport.

"I have not discussed anything about the contract with Mercedes. That will come eventually. The focus is on the triple headers and maybe we will sit down after that at some point.

"My gut feeling at the moment? I have not allowed myself to think about it too much because it can be a distraction. I just want to win races."

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Red Bull's Helmut Marko pictured in July 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171346
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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