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Lewis Hamilton backs Formula One's schedule change

Lewis Hamilton backs Formula One's schedule change
© Reuters
Qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been brought forward by an hour.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has backed Formula One's decision to move qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and avoid an overlap with the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

The battle for pole position at the second round of the season in Imola on Saturday has been brought forward by an hour to conclude at 2pm.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died last Friday, served as President in Chief of the British Racing Drivers' Club for 42 years. A minute's silence will also be observed ahead of qualifying.

Motor Racing – International Trophy Car Race – Silverstone
The Duke of Edinburgh, pictured at Silverstone, was President in Chief of the BRDC for 42 years (PA Archive)

Asked about the revisions to the timetable, Hamilton, who was knighted in the New Year Honours, said: "I don't see it being a problem. The Duke of Edinburgh was such a racing fan and it is so sad to hear of his passing.

"He had a great, long life and I know he was really committed to having an impact and helping young people.

"He has left an inspiring legacy behind and my thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty and the family. I hope we can continue to race and I am sure he will be watching from above."

Hamilton, 36, arrives in Imola bidding to build on his impressive win at last month's thrilling season opener in Bahrain.

The seven-time world champion held off the advances of Max Verstappen in a battle which left fans hopeful of a season-long fight between the grid's two brightest stars.

"It is clear that Red Bull have a great package and Max is driving well, too, so it is set up to be a good season," added Hamilton.

"We are only going into the second race so I cannot assume or guess what is up ahead, but I hope it is exciting and it is all that it's cracked up to be, particularly in a time when we need the best entertainment possible.

"We approach every weekend the same because if it ain't broke don't fix it. We just have to keep our heads down.

"It is exciting for all of us that we have such a challenge on our hands and it is not one to shy away from."

Verstappen, on fresher tyres and speedier machinery, looked poised to pass Hamilton in the closing laps in Bahrain.

But the Dutchman fluffed his lines when he performed an illegal move on the Mercedes driver, before crossing the line in second.

"Of course I was disappointed, but I have learned over the years that all is not lost after one race," said Verstappen.

"What do you want to do? It makes no sense to start smashing things, or throwing things around. If finishing second is a bad result then I am looking forward to the next 22 races."

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