Hamilton leads Verstappen to set grid for Sprint Qualifying but faces possible disqualification

Other than being investigated for a DRS infringement, Briton has also received a five-place engine-related grid penalty

By Olivia Kairu

Hamilton’s 1:07s934 lap time was the fastest in São Paulo, Brazil on Friday (Photo: Mercedes/Twitter)

Lewis Hamilton dominated all three qualifying sessions in São Paulo, Brazil on Friday, but the rest of the news are not good for the Briton.

The seven-time world champion set the fastest lap of 1:07s934 to lead the grid in Saturday’s sprint qualifying session, ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman complained of overheating in the front tyres as his Red Bull was unable to close the gap to the heavily advantaged Mercedes. The top-teams “B drivers” Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez were third and fourth, respectively.

However, Hamilton is under stewards investigation for a possible technical breach with a Drag Reduction System (DRS) infringement. They claim the Mercedes car fell short of the “maximum distance” required of the DRS, Which increases speed on the straights.

He could see be excluded from the qualifying results, requiring a start from the back of the grid in the sprint qualifying. Hamilton also has a five-place grid penalty on Sunday’s race for adding a fifth Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to his power unit.

Further reading: Q&A: All about the new Formula 1 sprint qualifying set to debut at three weekends in 2021

“The uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with Article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations,” said FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer in a brief bulletin.

“The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled. But the requirement for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled. I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”

Before news of the investigations was out, Hamilton said he was pleased with his Friday result.

“It was a very good qualifying session. I am super happy with it. We have the penalty but we give it everything we’ve got,” he said after the session. 

Mercedes Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff spoke optimistically of the new engine component to Sky F1. 

“I think we started on the wrong foot right at the beginning of the session and the Red Bulls didn’t run at the end,” Toto said. “But we have more performance to come that we know we have in the pocket. At least it’s not as bad as it wasn’t at the beginning of the session.”

Verstappen gave little in the direction of reaction to Mercedes’ performance. “When they take a new engine, they have a bit more power for the weekend so for me, it is not a big shock,” he said. “I am just happy to be second. It is a good position to start from. It is nice to be closer but sometimes you have to be satisfied with what you get.”

Bottas steered clear of trouble for a clean Friday however was unable to improve on his Q2 time settling for P3 with a 1.08s469 lap time ahead of Perez and Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman claimed a strong P5 for AlphaTauri in the circuit where he made it to the podium in 2019.

Freight delivery delays

Delays in freight delivery from Mexico, where a race was held in Mexico City last Sunday, plagued multiple F1 teams in the paddock but did little to hinder the smooth running of the qualifying session.

Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes were in the few heavily impacted by the late delivery of chassis and power units needed to complete the assembly of their cars ahead of the Friday sessions.

Still, both Ferraris lead the cars onto the track at the beginning of the qualifying session to see Charles Leclerc set the first benchmark time followed swiftly by teammate Carlos Sainz Jr, who quickly beat the time just 3 tenths of a second faster. Sainz led the Ferrari duo in P6 accompanied by Leclerc in a close P7.

Lando Norris was the fastest of the McLarens, qualifying eighth and ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, ninth. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten while his teammate Esteban Ocon was 0.052s shy of a top ten qualifying, finishing in 11th and ahead of Sebastian Vettel, P12, and Yuki Tsunoda, P13. 

Kimi Raikkonen beat his Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi by qualifying 14th, leaving the Italian driver in P15 in a make or break weekend which could decide his future in the team since his contract is yet to be renewed for 2022.

Latifi outqualifies Russell

Both Canadian drivers, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, were unable to make it to Q2, getting knocked out of the first qualifying session and placing P16 and P17, respectively.

But Latifi has something to celebrate. He outqualified his Williams teammate, George Russell, for the first time in the two seasons they’ve been sharing a garage in a regular Q1/Q2/Q3 qualifying session.

Russell, bound to replace Alfa Romeo-bound Bottas on Mercedes next year, was unable to make it into Q2 for the second time in 2021 by finishing 18th.

“Just couldn’t really get the tyres or the car working. I wasn’t really feeling it. But Nicholas (Latifi) did a really good lap just ahead of me,” Russell said after the session. 

“As a team, we are pretty off the pace this weekend. Only the second time in 19 races we have not been in Q2 so we need to find that pace again. We don’t really know what’s happened to the pace of the car in the last few races.”

Haas rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will line up at the back of the grid in P19 and P20, respectively.

The sprint qualifying session is set for Saturday at 2:30 PM EST, 11:30 AM PST while the race is scheduled for Sunday at 12:00 PM EST, 9:00 AM PST.

See the full Qualifying results:

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One thought on “Hamilton leads Verstappen to set grid for Sprint Qualifying but faces possible disqualification

  • November 12, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Bom treino, dando o normal. Nao acredito na punicao de hamilton. Tbem penso que verstapen fara amanha corrida classificatoria tranquila, nem precisando forcar muito o carro, ja que hamilton perdera\ 5 posicoes no ghrid. As ferrari podem ultrapassar a maclaren nessas duas proximas corridas. Teremos duas proximas corridas que podem definir o campeonato. Boa corrida a todos.

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