Hamilton takes 100th pole for Mercedes at Brazil

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th pole position for Mercedes in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, while nearest challenger Sebastian Vettel faces a race stewards investigation.

Hamilton went fastest using supersoft Pirellis on the first runs in the pole position shootout, setting a time of one minute, 07.301 seconds.

The Mercedes driver was the only one of the frontrunners to improve on his second run, shaving off a further two-hundredths of a second to make sure of P1.

Vettel had been up on Hamilton after the first sector on his final run, but a lock up in Turn 8 contributed to him losing time and he had to settle for second based on his earlier lap, 0.093 seconds down.

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest in the second Mercedes, pipping Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.015 seconds.

As expected, the Red Bull drivers annexed the third row with just 0.002 secondss separating Max Verstappen in fifth and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth. However, the honey badger will drop five places on the grid following a turbo unit change.

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was the only driver other than Hamilton to improve on his second run, ensuring he held onto the seventh place he secured on his first attempt.

That put him two tenths faster than his Sauber team-mate Charles Leclerc, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean ninth and comfortably ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Both Ferrari drivers will start the race on soft Pirellis after aborting their initial Q2 runs on supersofts to change tyres, with the rest of the top ten qualifiers all locked in the softest compound.

But Vettel was frustrated to be called to the FIA weigh bridge early in Q2 when he dived into the pits while in a hurry to change tyres in case of racing.

He was reported to the stewards for refusing to turn off his engine, then driving onto the scales and leaving under his own power.

Technical delegate Jo Bauer’s report to the stewards pointed out this made it difficult to get a stable weight, and that in driving off Vettel “destroyed the scales”.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was knocked out at the end of Q2 by a superb lap from Leclerc, who looked set to miss out on a place in the top ten when rain hit with six minutes remaining.

At that point, Magnussen had just pushed Leclerc down to P11, but the Sauber driver returned to the track after the rain eased and returned the favour.

When the rain came, Racing Point Force India driver Esteban Ocon did improve his lap time on a second set of supersoft Pirellis but it was only good enough for P13 behind teammate Sergio Perez.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was P14 after improving his time, but not his position, with a late lap to end up ahead only of the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.

Sirotkin had to swerve and skirt the grass on the approach to the Juncao left-hander while on an out-lap after Hamilton attempted to move out of his way by jinking to the left too late.

The Williams driver then appeared to express his frustration by attempting a pass on Hamilton into Turn 1 on the following lap.

Renault driver Carlos Sainz was the fastest of those eliminated in a frenetic Q1 session, during which spots or rain made it difficult for drivers.

Gasly bumped Toro Rosso team-mate Brendon Hartley into the drop zone with a few minutes remaining, putting Ocon into P15.

But Sainz then posted a lap 0.005s slower than Ocon to take P16, and slot in 0.011 seconds ahead of Hartley, who complained of a lockup on his best lap that cost him time.

McLaren pairing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were P18 and P20 respectively and separated by 0.199 seconds – as well as the second Williams of Lance Stroll.

Qualifying positions, Brazilian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m07.281s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m07.374s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m07.441s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m07.456s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m07.778s
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m08.296s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m08.492s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m08.517s
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m09.029s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m08.659s
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m07.780s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m08.741s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m08.834s
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m10.381s
15 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m09.269s
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m09.280s
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m09.402s
18 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m08.770s
19 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m09.441s
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m09.601s

5 thoughts to “Hamilton takes 100th pole for Mercedes at Brazil”

  1. Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    There was a familiar team on pole in Brazil – and it was another landmark in their Formula 1 journey. Lewis Hamilton, having claimed his fifth world championship last time out in Mexico, didn’t take his foot off the gas at Interlagos, claiming Mercedes’ 100th pole position in F1 and their fifth in a row here, finishing up less than a tenth of a second ahead of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

    Vettel trailed the Briton by just 0.093s, although his P2 was later under threat as he was summoned by the stewards for allegedly “destroying the scales” at the FIA weighbridge, after failing to turn off his engine as required. He escaped a grid penalty, though, with stewards, after hearing from Vettel and reviewing telemetry and video evidence, deciding to hand the four-time world champion a €25,000 fine, as well as a first reprimand of the season.

    The German joins Hamilton on the front row, followed by the sister Silver Arrow of Valtteri Bottas who completed the top three, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen comfortably drove to fourth on the grid, with the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo unable to get within three-tenths of the Finn. Ricciardo will drop to 11th, though, having been hit with a five-place grid penalty for taking on new power-unit elements this weekend.

    Perhaps the surprise of the session was the driver sitting in P7. For most of the weekend, it has been Haas who have been ‘best of the rest’ but it was Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – taking part in what’s set to be his penultimate F1 race this weekend – who was the quicker of the midfield pack behind the top three teams.

    The Swede’s team mate Charles Leclerc came home in eighth, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who has been armed with Honda’s Spec 3 engine this weekend and will be looking to get off the line quickly on Sunday.

    Who would throw down the gauntlet in the first segment of Brazilian qualifying? Surprisingly it was Red Bull’s Verstappen who topped the opening timesheet, despite being some 0.785s off the pace in Saturday’s third practice session. The Dutchman led the Red Bull charge once again, setting the quickest lap on an evolving track before minor rain showers ultimately hindered his rivals’ chances of going quicker.

    Behind the early pacesetter, Ferrari pair Raikkonen and Vettel were like-for-like, both going 0.247s slower, while Hamilton was also narrowly behind. The Briton would have perhaps been surprised to see Haas’ Kevin Magnussen splitting the two Mercedes, with the Dane only 0.010s off the world champion’s pace and ahead of Bottas.

    Ricciardo came home seventh in front of Sauber’s Leclerc and Haas’ Grosjean, while the sister Sauber of Ericsson made up the top ten. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Gasly, who was concerned by the arrival of rain, did enough to reach Q2, along with Force India pair Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, who were split by Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin.

    And while the rain proved a blessing for some – namely Sirotkin – it was a pain for others, with Renault’s Carlos Sainz suffering a shock Q1 exit, the Spaniard missing out by 0.005s. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, who had high hopes this weekend with Honda’s Spec 3 engine, also narrowly missed out (by 0.011s to be precise), while McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne joined Williams’ Lance Stroll in suffering the familiar fate of opening-segment elimination.

    Mercedes, having taken pole here for the last four years, gave a reminder of their one-lap pace as Bottas returned to the top of the timesheet, having led the way in Friday’s FP2, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Vettel in a familiar second. It was a positive outcome for the German, though, as his fastest lap came on the more durable soft rubber (rather than the quicker but more fragile supersoft), meaning he will start on the yellow-marked compound on Sunday and will seemingly go for a longer first stint.

    Hamilton settled for third place, but the Briton was involved in two incidents during the session. Whilst on an out-lap he nearly veered into the path of Sirotkin as the two appeared to come within inches of causing a nasty accident, while moments later he seemed to impede Raikkonen, somewhat confused by what direction his Ferrari rival was taking.

    There was also drama for Vettel during this session, when he was called into the weigh station without setting a time. He clattered into a cone on his entry, and the stewards were not impressed with his actions. He allegedly failed to turn his engine off, then drove off under his own power and, in doing so, “destroyed the scales” – and he was called in to discuss the incident.

    Back to the action and Verstappen finished fourth, with Raikkonen sandwiched between the two Red Bulls, while it was Grosjean who this time led Haas’ ‘best of the rest’ charge by coming home P7. Making up the top ten and reaching Q3 was Sauber pair Leclerc and Ericsson, joining Gasly who finished in P10.

    It was an heroic late improvement from Leclerc that meant Magnussen, who boasts a strong Haas package this weekend, failed to reach the top-ten shootout, while Force India’s Perez and Ocon also missed out on a chance to fight it out for pole. Renault have found Interlagos’ challenging final sector a tough ask this weekend, and they were unable to climb out of Q2 as Hulkenberg could only go 14th fastest, with Williams’ Sirotkin finishing up bottom of the pile – although he will move up at least one spot due to Ocon’s gearbox penalty.

    A dry track meant the teams were able to give it their all, and that was music to the ears of Hamilton, who wasted no time getting out on a track, and 1m 1.301s after he started his first flying lap, he was sitting pretty at the top of the timesheet.

    The recently-crowned 2018 world champion went marginally quicker on his second hot lap, Vettel was unable to close the gap, and that meant a 10th pole position of the season was wrapped up for Hamilton. That is no doubt a huge boost for Mercedes, who know the constructors’ title will also be theirs this season if Ferrari fail to outscore them by 13 points this weekend.

    To achieve that they’ll need Bottas to perform and although he was unable to repeat his Q2 exploits by going top, to get his car ahead of the sister Prancing Horse of Raikkonen will no doubt please his boss Toto Wolff.

    For Red Bull, they never expected to challenge for pole but they have been encouraged by their long-run pace this weekend so expect them to fight for a podium on Sunday. And there will be contrasting strategies among the top teams on Sunday, with Ferrari starting on the yellow-marked soft rubber while Mercedes and Red Bull are on the supersoft compound.

    It was another step in the right direction for Sauber, this time Ericsson leading their charge to a career-best P7 ahead of Leclerc, while Gasly finished up in P10. Ricciardo’s grid penalty, however, means Haas’ Magnussen will start 10th on the grid. All to play for on race day then…

  2. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is under investigation for “destroying” the weighbridge scales during qualifying. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel has been summoned to the Brazilian Grand Prix stewards for a weighbridge incident during Formula 1 qualifying in which he “destroyed” the scales.

    Vettel was rushing back to the pits before setting a laptime during the second qualifying segment in changeable conditions at Interlagos, as Ferrari sent him out on supersoft tyres but wanted him to come in to switch to softs.

    Upon entering the pitlane Vettel was called into the weighbridge but the scales were coned off.

    Vettel hit the cone immediately blocking the entry and gesticulated at officials to clear a path.

    Keeping the car running, he edged forward while an official was standing directly in front of the car.

    FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer said Vettel “refused to turn off the engine” and the car was pushed onto the scales but he left the engine running, which Bauer said “makes it difficult to get a stable result”.

    Vettel continued to gesticulate and applauded as his path remained blocked by another official.

    Once the weighing was complete, Vettel drove off the scales under the car’s own power – which Bauer said “destroyed” them.

    “As the driver was not following the instructions and further compromised the continuation of the weighing procedure, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration,” Bauer stated.

    Vettel, who was able to set a time and progress to Q3 after the incident, was knocked out of title contention at the previous grand prix in Mexico.

    However, Ferrari is still trying to prevent Mercedes from clinching the constructors’ championship.

  3. Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton says Sergey Sirotkin acted in a “disrespectful” manner by passing him on an out-lap as the pair nearly came to blows in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Most teams were in a rush to log flying laps at the start of the second segment due to weather conditions, and when Williams driver Sirotkin arrived at the back of a slowing Hamilton at the end of his out-lap, he tried to clear the Mercedes.

    But Hamilton, who had been on the racing line, jinked to the left and wound up nearly collecting Sirotkin, who at speed dipped two wheels off the track as he narrowly avoided the Briton’s car.

    Hamilton, who went on to take pole position, claimed after qualifying that Sirotkin was in the wrong to attempt the overtake.

    “Everyone was on an out-lap – me, Sergey, and everyone in front of me. Valtteri [Bottas] was ahead of me and he was backing off to get his gap so I had to make sure I kept a gap to him.

    “As far as I was aware there was no-one behind on a lap, so I was looking out, making sure I had a gap, and then all of a sudden out of Turn 11 I saw a car coming at high speed, so I was like: ‘Oh my God, is that someone on a [flying] lap?’

    “I went to move 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.

    “Respectfully, between all the drivers, we all do respect [the gaps] – I could have tried to overtake Valtteri, or Valtteri whoever was in front of him. We all know [to] keep our space by that point.

    “It was generally quite a disrespectful move. It was dangerous between us both.”

    Sirotkin slowed up after the near-miss and was passed back by Hamilton as they crossed the start-finish line to start their respective flying laps.

    He briefly looked at overtaking Hamilton into Turn 1, but backed out of the move.

    “It was kind of strange,” Hamilton said. “It was completely unnecessary because he had a space behind him, so ultimately his lap and my lap weren’t great.

    “Hopefully he can learn from it.”

    Hamilton also had a run-in with Kimi Raikkonen during Q2, with the Finn forced to make a late move to the left to pass the coasting Mercedes while on a flying lap.

    “I guess he was on a slow lap but was in the middle of the road so you either stay on the line or move all the way out. It is impossible to say which way they will go,” Raikkonen said of the Hamilton incident.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. Sauber’s Sirotkin says Hamilton did nothing wrong in Q2 near-miss. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Sergey Sirotkin says Lewis Hamilton did nothing wrong in their near-miss during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The Russian came close to a big crash at the start of Q2 when his Mercedes rival moved into his path as he closed rapidly in on him in the final sequence of corners.

    Although Hamilton was upset about the situation – saying that Sirotkin should not have tried to pass him ahead of their qualifying runs – the Williams driver has explained that he had no choice but to go so fast.

    He said that, having unexpectedly made it through to Q2, Williams had no tyres ready for him so he had to fit a pair of used one from Q1 which had not been pre-heated.

    “They were minus-27 degrees compared to the delta, so I had to push very hard all the way around,” he said.

    “I was still pushing all the way through Turn 11 and he [Hamilton] was very slow preparing for his lap.

    “Because I was coming so quickly, I didn’t expect him to give me the room as we were both on out-laps.

    “I had such a big speed difference with him, that I just moved myself to the left to get through and, at the last minute, he saw me and tried to move.

    “I was like 200km/h quicker than him at that point on the left so it was quite difficult to get around and to avoid the contact.

    “But again I don’t think there is anything he did wrong. It was just the situation that I had to push, which was quite unusual for the out-lap, but these things can happen.”

    Although Hamilton blamed Sirotkin for triggering the incident by being “disrespectful” in overtaking on an out-lap, the Russian has strongly denied that is the case.

    “I would disagree,” he said. “I think if you look generally at what I am doing on track, there are not many other drivers who pay so much respect, especially to the leading cars that I know are fighting for the title.

    “There are not many people here who respect him as much as I do. It was my situation, I just needed to push it all the way to the end to get some temps in it, even though I think I would never make it enough.

    “There was no solution for me to slow down and cruise to his speed for the last quarter of the lap.”

    Asked if he was surprised that Hamilton had not been investigated for the incident, Sirotkin said: “I am not surprised. It is very normal. It has just been a unique situation that you never really find often.

    “How it looks from the rules perspective, it is probably harsher from the rule perspective to move like that. But from human side of the view, it is absolutely normal. That is absolutely normal what happened.”

    Daniel Ricciardo said Sirotkin did nothing wrong in overtaking Hamilton on an out-lap because there was no hard and fast rule about how drivers should behave.

    “I feel there is like a bit of an understanding most of the time, but… yeah, none of us have ever agreed to it,” he said.

    “I guess we kinda feel, look, if we respect them, then when they’re in that position next time they’ll respect me. It’s kind of a – I’ll be nice this time, you’ll probably be nice in return down the track.”

    Update – Sirotkin was later handed an official reprimand for driving too slowly on his in-lap in Q1.

    He explained that he had been letting other cars past him, and there appeared to be some discrepancy between what his dashboard was telling him and what the FIA reading was.

    So while he believed he was inside the maximum time, that was not how his time was judged.

    The FIA stewards noted that: “While the driver did exceed the delta time on his dash, it appears that the majority of the time was due to a setup error. The Stewards found that the regulation was breached and ordered a reprimand.”

    This is Sirotkin’s first reprimand of the season.

  5. Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel has received a reprimand and a heavy fine after a stewards’ investigation into his behaviour at the weighbridge during Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Vettel, called up to the weighbridge when he came into the pits without setting a laptime early on in the second segment of qualifying, was anxious to get through the process as he hit a cone and hurried FIA staff through the motions.

    He subsequently incurred the wrath of technical delegate Jo Bauer, who reported the four-time world champion had ignored instructions, didn’t switch off the engine as required and “destroyed the scales” by speeding off under his own power after the procedure.

    The matter was referred to the stewards and Vettel, who finished second behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton in qualifying, was subsequently summoned.

    After deliberations, Vettel was handed his first reprimand of the season, as well as a fine of 25,000 Euros, for “failing to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the event”.

    He was, however, allowed to keep his front-row start for Sunday’s race.

    It was explained in the verdict that Vettel had indeed “eventually stopped the engine, although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure”.

    This cleared him of one of the relevant charges.

    However, the stewards continued in their explanation: “Once the weight was taken he did not wait for the officials to push the car off the scales, and while the Stewards accept that he may have misunderstood the indication from the official, he then refired the car and drove off the scales, which is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case it did.

    “While no one was hurt by the scales being thrown out from behind the car, and while the Stewards accept that the driver did not drive off the scales in a reckless manner, the procedure is established exactly to prevent damage to the scales or a potentially dangerous situation, which is exactly what was caused.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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