Hamilton problem – ‘Not a big shock’ to Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton received a penalty for an engine for the Formula 1 race in Sao Paulo. With new leadership, he could leave Max Verstappen behind in qualifying. Then Hamilton has more problems.
sSão Paulo (AP) – Lewis Hamilton climbed into his Mercedes and Brazilian fans cheered at the gates of Sao Paulo.
Thanks to the new engine and great performance, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion took pole position in Saturday’s sprint (8.30pm/Sky). Hamilton looked relaxed and full of energy in his world championship encounter against Max Verstappen. “It was a really good qualifying session, I’m very happy,” the 36-year-old said on Friday at Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
Hamilton received a penalty before the first training session at Interlagos for an illegal engine change. Five more places should start in the final fourth race of the season on Sunday (6pm/sky). Another setback, after all, Hamilton must already catch up to 19 points with World Cup leader Verstappen at Red Bull.
call to listen
Then Hamilton got into a new problem. Due to a possible technical violation, the hosts summoned a Mercedes representative for a hearing. In the specific case, a complaint was made about the adjustable rear spoiler of Hamilton’s car. The so-called Drag Reduction System (DRS) is said to have given him an illegal advantage when overtaking. A decision on this was postponed after an initial check, as the FIA did not expect more information until Saturday morning (local time), the Mercedes team announced on Twitter that night.
Best time in first practice and in qualifying with a clear lead awarded to Hamilton and the Brave Silver Arrows. “We have performance, so anything is possible,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said before the race. In this mini event of 24+ laps with free choice of tires, the winner gets three points, second and third more.
Verstappen is also in trouble
After Hamilton, Max Verstappen was also threatened by problems with the race hosts. The Red Bull driver has been called in for questioning because he has been accused of a possible rule violation. It is being investigated whether Verstappen has violated the provisions of the so-called parc fermé, under which no changes or repairs to cars are allowed after qualification.
After the start chase, Verstappen can be seen touching the rear wing of his car and then the wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes. The race hosts can request an explanation. How far could Verstappen take a penalty and how high he would go was initially open.
But he is still the favorite to finish first on the grid on Sunday – also because of Hamilton’s penalty. The Dutchman was unimpressed by the Englishman’s performance, and at the Grand Prix the winner also took a colossal 25 points. “Obviously if you have a new engine, you’ll have more power over the weekend,” he explained. “It is not a huge shock to me, I am just happy to be in second place. This is a good position to start with.”
Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, praised Verstappen’s only competitor in the world championship. “Hamilton was incredibly fast,” said the Austrian. But Marko knows Red Bull is usually faster in the race than in qualifying. In addition, the high temperatures on Saturday and Sunday should be higher than those of Red Bull than Mercedes.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel finished only 12th, while Haas’ Mick Schumacher was second after last, leaving stable rival Nikita Maspin behind once again. “I actually felt very good, but there was a lot of time lost,” Vettel said.
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