Hamilton avoids sanction to claim pole
LEWIS Hamilton will start the first race of his championship parade from pole position after he avoided sanction for a near- miss during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
On almost the identical piece of Interlagos tarmac where he passed Timo Glock to sensationally win his maiden title a decade ago, there was further drama for Hamilton yesterday. At first, it appeared as though the Mercedes star was at fault. In attempting to jump out of Sergey Sirotkin’s way, he inadvertently drove into the Russian’s path with the pair only inches away from a 150mph shunt.
Sirotkin turned sharply to his left, narrowly avoiding Hamilton, before running over the grass on the exit of Turn 11.
Given the speed at which Sirotkin approached Hamilton’s Mercedes, the initial evidence suggested the Williams driver was on a flying lap, and Hamilton was caught napping. But both parties later confirmed that the rookie Russian was, like Hamilton, only preparing for a speedy run.
As such, Hamilton was not summoned to the stewards, with the five-time world champion instead pointing the finger at Sirotkin for reckless driving.
“As far as I was aware no driver behind me was on a quick lap,” Hamilton said. “I was making sure I had the gap to the driver in front, but then all of a sudden I saw a car coming out of Turn 11 at high speed so I was like ‘oh my God is that someone on a flying lap?’ I moved to the left and that was where he decided to go. He wasn’t on a quick lap so I don’t know what his thinking was. It was quite a disrespectful move in the sense that it was dangerous. It was kind of strange and completely unnecessary.”
Hamilton’s high-speed run-in with the Williams came during the second phase of qualifying as drops of rain threatened to have an impact on the result. In the end, the wet weather stayed away, and Hamilton did what he always seems to do, pulling a lap out of nowhere to claim his 10th pole of the season when it was Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel who seemed to hold the advantage.
Vettel qualified second, just 0.093 seconds adrift of Hamilton, and last night avoided a penalty for the race despite bizarrely losing his cool when he was called to the weighbridge in his Ferrari.
Keen to get back on track in the fight for pole, Vettel angrily gesticulated with the officials before he drove off at speed and broke the scales.
“They shouldn’t call us when the conditions are changing like that,” Vettel said. “It’s unfair and I wanted them to hurry up.”
The German was handed a £22,000 fine and a reprimand, but stays on the front row alongside Hamilton.
Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by 13 points today to take the fight for the constructors’ championship on to the final race in Abu Dhabi.