Sky Sports have just outlined the relevant regulations and have concluded – as a layman probably would – that Hamilton stopping in the pitlane exit for his practice start, with cars coming past him at high speed, was on the dangerous side. Will Hamilton face a punishment before the race starts?
I told you this would be exciting …
Hamilton under investigation pre-race
Breaking: Hamilton is under investigation for doing his practice start outside of the designated area. Pictures show Hamilton stationary on the exit to the pit lane – almost out on the track – which from a safety point of view is perhaps not ideal.
There was a huge crash in the F2 race a bit earlier, which led to it being abandoned, and also caused damage to parts of the safety padding at the side of the track. A bit of speedy repair work to be done before the F1 race begins …
Red Bull’s Christian Horner speaks to Sky on his hopes and aims for Max Verstappen’s start: “First of all, unlike the last two starts, I’m hoping he gets a decent start this week … the Honda guys have been working really hard on that. But it’s the dirty side of the grid, so the most important thing for him is to get in that tow as quickly as he can, behind Lewis. And then Lewis is starting, if you like, on the less preferable tyre. So it will be fascinating to see how that plays out.”
The Formula 1 season so far has provided a healthy amount of excitement, with the odd, inevitable procession thrown in, and the ingredients already in the pot for today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi contain plenty of potential for drama.
Britain’s endlessly impressive world champion and the current drivers’ championship leader, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, produced pole position on Saturday under massive pressure, narrowly sneaking into Q3 after a couple of earlier mishaps left him with just over two minutes to deliver a lap good enough to make it into the final shake-up. He found a way to make Q3, and was then fearsomely fast in taking pole.
But if you think all that drama in qualifying now points to Hamilton leading into the first corner and accelerating away to another flawless victory, it seems things will not be quite that simple. Hamilton’s disrupted qualifying – he called it ‘horrible’ and ‘one of the hardest qualifying sessions I can remember’ – means he will start the race on soft tyres, in contrast to Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), who start on medium tyres, in second and third on the grid respectively. Starting on soft tyres means Hamilton and his team will have to think hard about their pitstop strategy – and on top of that, the cars behind him are expected to have a perfect opportunity to slingshot past in the 800 metres of track before turn two.
If Hamilton and his Mercedes team do find a way to win, the Briton will draw level with Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix victories. So there is history to be made, as well as another victory as Hamilton hunts for his seventh drivers’ title. Let’s go!