Lewis Hamilton will start in pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix. He finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who faces a chat with the stewards after an incident at the weighbridge.
It was Sebastian Vettel who was fastest in the third and final practice session. He was 0.217 seconds ahead of World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
The session wasn’t an enjoyable one for the British driver who had to abort his first lap. His Mercedes spent a quarter-of-an-hour in the pits to solve what turned out to be a dislodged breather pipe. With that sorted out he quickly got back on the track to record some impressive times, but not quite good enough to beat the Ferrari’s time set earlier in the session.
Third fastest was the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas who was 0.3 seconds behind his team-mate. He was just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who was 0.025 seconds behind the Mercedes. Fifth and sixth spots were filled by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. They didn’t come out onto the track until after the half-way point of the session and both drivers reported problems with their understeer with Verstappen 0.785 seconds off the pace.
Seventh and eighth places were again filled by the Haas team with Kevin Magnusson ahead of Romain Grosjean who was ahead of Pierre Gasly in his Force India. Also having a few problems was Charles Leclerc who returned to the pits at one stage with his team reporting a technical issue and finished tenth fastest.
Lewis Hamilton is keen not to see the past repeat itself and his not winning any further races once crowned champion. He took a large step towards doing that by taking pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
He finished 0.093 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, though the German found himself in trouble with the stewards, more of which later. Third fastest was Valtteri Bottas with Kimi Raikkonen in fourth. The usual top six line-up was completed with the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and sixth, though Ricciardo will start 11th on the grid thanks to that five-place grid penalty.
Seventh went to Marcus Ericsson, his best ever placing, and it might remain that way as he won’t be driving for Sauber next season. He’s scheduled to be racing IndyCar’s next year. Ericsson was 0.196 seconds ahead of his team-mate Charles Leclerc with Romain Grosjean in ninth and Pierre Gasly tenth with the latter having his Force India boosted by another Honda engine upgrade.
Hamilton didn’t have an incident-free session as he nearly crashed with Sergey Sitorkin (Williams) at the beginning of Q2. The Russian was right behind him coming up to Turn 12 and at a faster speed. Hamilton went to the left to get out of the way but Sirotkin was heading in that direction too and had to avoid a collision. Hamilton wasn’t happy afterwards saying “We all know to keep a gap.”
So, what did Vettel do this time? Well, he’d had a lap on used super-soft tyres and with rain looking likely, he was keen to get some soft tyres fitted as quickly as possible and didn’t follow the steward’s instructions at the weighbridge. Even worse, he drove at a steward who was in his way and stopping him getting on the scales, be weighed and then get those new tyres.
Speaking about the incident, Vettel said “They shouldn’t call us. When the conditions are changing like that, it is unfair. I wanted them to hurry up.”
Lewis Hamilton was delighted to end on pole but seems worried about the pace of Ferrari who he says have “been incredibly quick this weekend.”
The stewards will be investigating Vettel and it’s possible he could get a grid penalty, only time will tell. Mercedes still have the constructors’ championship to win and with Ferrari doing well so far this weekend, it promises to be a close battle. I’ll be back with another blog later in the month, till then enjoy your racing.