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F1 - Hamilton takes pole position at Interlagos as Vettel runs into trouble

A mid session incident at the weighbridge



Lewis Hamilton took the 82nd pole position of his career with fastest lap in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver edging Sebastian Vettel by just under a tenths of a second. Vettel hit trouble during the session, however, being summoned to the stewards’ room following an mid session incident at the weighbridge.

Race officials called the Ferrari driver to the weighbridge during Q2 but according to FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer’s report “the driver of car number 05, when called for weighing, refused to turn off the engine. The car was pushed onto the scales and weighed with running engine, which makes it difficult to get a stable result. After weighing the driver drove off the scales under its own power, and by doing so, he destroyed the scales.” Vettel was summoned to see the stewards at the end of Q3.

Earlier, ahead of Q1 circuit weather forecasters increased the likelihood of rain for the session from an earlier 40% to 60% and with ominous clouds moving towards the track a stream of cars took to the track in search of banker laps at the start of Q1.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set the early pace, with the Dutchman setting a time of 1:08.205. That put him more than two tenths clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, with Hamilton third ahead of Vettel, who eventually improved to steal third with a time identical to that of his team-mate.

At the lower end of the order the men in danger in the final minutes of the session were Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Williams’ Lance Stroll and second McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

With rain falling in the closing moments of the segment, none was able to find the time needed to escape the danger zone and all five were eliminated in their pre-final final run positions.

Q2 proved to be a race against time as the rain closed in and after the first runs Bottas held top spot ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen and Ricciardo. Räikkönen, though, chose to abandon his supersoft tyres and drove back to the pits to take on soft tyres.

Vettel wanted to make a similar move but as he went to make the switch he was called to the weighbridge, leading to the incident with the FIA officials. He subsequently bolted on softs and jumped to P2, setting hbis best time on the yellow-banded compound.

Red Bull and Mercedes tried the same switch but none of their drivers could improve and thus they will start the race on supersofts, while Ferrari will start on softs.

In mixed and difficult to read conditions at the end of the session Sauber’s Charles Leclerc delivered a spectacular lap to rise from P11 and potential elimination to P8 and safety ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who was the last man through to Q3.

Eliminated at the end of Q2 were Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin.

In Q3 Hamilton seized control of proceedings, setting an opening time of 1:07.301 to sit 0.073s ahead of Vettel, with Bottas third ahead of Räikkönen. Max again took P5 ahead of Daniel, though by the incredibly small margin of just 0.002s.

And that was how the order remained. Hamilton improved marginally to 1:07.281 to claim his 82nd career pole position ahead of Vettel who made a small error on his final lap. Bottas took third ahead of Räikkönen and with no improvement forthcoming, Max ands Daniel qualified on row three of the grid. Seventh place went to Ericsson with Leclerc in eighth ahead of Grosjean and Gasly.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:08.464 1:07.795 1:07.281
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:08.452 1:07.776 1:07.374
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG 1:08.492 1:07.727 1:07.441
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:08.452 1:08.028 1:07.456
05 Max Verstappen Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:08.205 1:08.017 1:07.778
06 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:08.544 1:08.055 1:07.780
07 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:08.754 1:08.579 1:08.296
08 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:08.667 1:08.335 1:08.492
09 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:08.735 1:08.239 1:08.517
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 1:09.046 1:08.616 1:09.029
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:08.474 1:08.659
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:09.217 1:08.741
13 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:09.264 1:08.770
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 1:09.009 1:08.834
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:09.259 1:10.381
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Carlos Sainz Renault F1 1:09.269
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 1:09.280
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:09.402
19 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:09.441
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:09.601

10 November 2018 - 19h07, by Olivier Ferret 

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