Lewis Hamilton on pole in Brazil
November 11 2018 , 12:35 pm
Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to Brazilian GP pole position in a head-to-head duel in a qualifying session both drivers were involved in controversial incidents.
Vettel was placed under investigation by the stewards for a bizarre incident in Q2 when he was accused of ignoring instructions at the weighbridge and breaking the scales that weigh the cars.
But the Ferrari driver avoided a grid penalty and handed a fine and a reprimand instead.
Hamilton, meanwhile, had a near-miss with Sergey Sirotkin in the same session when the Williams driver had to swerve off the track.
On the track in Q3, F1’s newly-crowned five-time champion beat Vettel by 0.093s to stay true to his word that he would go all-out to victory to help Mercedes clinch the Constructors’ Championship with a race to spare on Sunday.
“That was some qualifying session,” said a jubilant Hamilton. “It’s been so close this weekend, it took a special lap and I didn’t make any mistakes.”
Valtteri Bottas was third in the other Mercedes, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari.
After a front-row lockout in Mexico, Red Bull took a back seat at Interlagos with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo split by a scant 0.002s in fifth and sixth places respectively.
But Ricciardo will slip back to 11th place owing to a five-place penalty for an unscheduled turbo change.
Sauber, meanwhile, enjoyed a stunning day as their two cars headed the midfield – with Marcus Ericsson securing a career-best seventh place to outpace in-form team-mate Charles Leclerc.
“I can’t wait to see that kid in a Ferrari next year,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle. “That was sensational from Leclerc.”
Sauber were joined in the top 10 by the lead Haas of Romain Grosjean, who was ninth, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who impressively took his Honda-powered car to 10th.
The Ferrari driver has found himself in hot water with authorities on several occasions this year amid his ultimately failed title challenge and the weighbridge moment in Q2 represented the most unusual yet.
After completing his first lap amid lightly-falling rain in Q2, Vettel was asked to stop at the weighbridge as he returned to the pits so FIA officials could carry out a random check.
But Vettel was said to have ‘refused to turn off the engine’ and driving on to the scales with his car’s engine still running, contravening the regulations. The FIA say he then drove off under his own power which ‘destroyed the scales’ and ‘further compromised the continuation of the weighing procedure’.
The German was also seen clapping his hands in an apparent attempt to get officials to hurry up.
“They shouldn’t call us, when the conditions are changing like that I think it’s unfair if somebody is pulled in,” said Vettel after qualifying before visiting the stewards.
“I wanted them to hurry up.”
Hamilton himself appeared at risk of a stewards’ enquiry in Q2 when Sirotkin took to the grass approaching Turn 11 as he attempted to pass the Mercedes, which was preparing for its next timed lap.
But the Englishman says the Russian driver was also on a warm-up lap, so was perplexed and unimpressed as to why Sirotkin tried to overtake him.
“As far as I knew no one behind was on a [fast] lap so I was making sure I had a gap, then all of a sudden out of turn 11 I saw a car coming,” said Hamilton.
“I thought someone might have been on a lap, so I went to the left and that’s where he decided to go. But he wasn’t on a lap so I don’t really know what his thinking was.
“Between all the drivers, we all know to keep our space by that point so it was generally quite a disrespectful move…”