Hamil­ton waits un­til fi­nal lap to pip Vet­tel to pole

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT -

AN emo­tional Lewis Hamil­ton put Mercedes on pole po­si­tion for his home Bri­tish Grand Prix yesterday af­ter giv­ing his all to stay ahead of Fer­rari’s For­mula One cham­pi­onship leader Se­bas­tian Vet­tel in a knife-edge qual­i­fy­ing.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the four-time world cham­pi­ons came down to just 0.044 sec­onds at the end, with Vet­tel 0.057 faster af­ter their first fly­ing laps around a siz­zling Sil­ver­stone cir­cuit.

Hamil­ton (pic­tured), who will be chas­ing his fifth suc­ces­sive home win to­day to re­take the lead from his Ger­man ri­val, was shak­ing as he parked up, leapt out and punched the air.

His lap of one minute 25.892 sec­onds was a track record.

“I gave it ev­ery­thing I could, but it was so close with these Fer­raris,” he said, ad­dress­ing the crowd with their Hamil­ton ban­ners and flags.

“I was just pray­ing I could do it for you guys.

“For me it feels like one of the best laps that I have been able to pro­duce,” the 33-year-old told re­porters later. “It felt like the most pres­surised lap I have ever had.

“I was shak­ing through the emo­tion and the adrenalin rush which was way above the limit of what I had ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore,” he added.

“It’s my 76th but it’s so spe­cial.”

Vet­tel, had suf­fered a cricked neck in fi­nal prac­tice that left him un­sure whether he would be able to take part in the ses­sion, said he had lost pace on the straight but was happy with his af­ter­noon.

Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen will line up third with Hamil­ton’s Fin­nish team mate Valt­teri Bot­tas com­plet­ing the sec­ond row of the grid.

Hamil­ton, a point be­hind Vet­tel af­ter nine races, has now had six poles at Sil­ver­stone and yesterday was his fourth in a row at the cir­cuit he has come to dom­i­nate since his de­but in 2007.

The Red Bull pair­ing of Dutch 20-year-old Max Ver­stap­pen, win­ner in Aus­tria last week­end, and Aus­tralian Daniel Ric­cia­rdo qual­i­fied fifth and sixth.

“We lose more than a sec­ond on the straights so this track is get­ting less and less favourable for us,” com­mented Ver­stap­pen.

“But the car is strong...it’s go­ing to be a strug­gle with the guys ahead. Last time we said it was go­ing to be a bor­ing race, and it was a very en­ter­tain­ing race, so let’s see.”

Haas driv­ers Kevin Mag­nussen and Ro­main Gros­jean will line up sev­enth and eighth with Monaco’s Charles Leclerc ninth for Sauber and Force In­dia’s Este­ban Ocon 10th.

Toro Rosso’s New Zealan­der Bren­don Hart­ley did not take part in qual­i­fy­ing, with the team re­build­ing his car af­ter a big crash in fi­nal prac­tice.

He will start from the back of the grid.

The night­mare con­tin­ued for for­mer cham­pi­ons Wil­liams at their home race, with Lance Stroll bring­ing out red flags when he crashed at the start of the first phase of qual­i­fy­ing.

Team mate Sergey Sirotkin then drew an­guished looks from his pit wall af­ter also go­ing off, avoid­ing the bar­ri­ers but end­ing up with the slow­est time. Wil­liams said an aero­dy­nam­ics is­sue had caused both cars to spin, and the driv­ers were not to blame.

For­mula One is con­sid­er­ing ex­tend­ing the scor­ing sys­tem so that the top 15 or even 20 fin­ish­ers are awarded points in fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to Force In­dia co-owner Vi­jay Mallya.

Points for a pole po­si­tion and fastest lap could also fea­ture.

The In­dian, whose team are on the sport’s core Strat­egy Group, said on Fri­day that the po­ten­tial change was dis­cussed at a meet­ing this week.

“They’re con­sid­er­ing whether the points sys­tem should go all the way down to 20, 20 be­ing ev­ery car scores a point if they fin­ish the race,” he said.

“The bot­tom starts with one point and then goes up. Or whether 10th should be ex­tended down to 15th. All these dis­cus­sions took place.”

For­mula One’s cur­rent scor­ing sys­tem, dat­ing from 2010, awards points down to 10th place with 25 for a win. There are 20 driv­ers at present, although the start­ing grid has been big­ger in the past.

Be­fore that, the decades since the cham­pi­onship started in 1950 have seen only the top five, six or eight driv­ers awarded points.

Mallya told motorsport.com separately that there was “a cer­tain panache” about fin­ish­ing in the top 10.

“That will get di­luted if you start giv­ing points down the line,” he added.

“When we do well all my friends send me mes­sages say­ing, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, an­other top 10 fin­ish.’ Top 10 has a cer­tain sense of achieve­ment to it.

“The counter point that was made was that if ev­ery driver gets a point, all the way down to the bot­tom, then ev­ery car is go­ing to be rac­ing for a point.” Reuters

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