Hamil­ton avoids sanc­tion to claim pole

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT -

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.

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