Lewis Hamilton wary of Sebastian Vettel after Ferrari driver’s qualifying tyre gamble

Sebastian Vettel has been reprimanded and fined €25,000 for failing to obey FIA officials during a routine weight check at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hamilton and Vettel both emerged from a controversial qualifying session with their cars on the front row, the first time they will line up alongside each other since the Belgian Grand Prix in August. Qualifying was held in challenging conditions, with scattered spells of light rain complicating the strategy of all 20 drivers.

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Any driver progressing from Q2 to the Q3 pole shootout will start the race on the tyre used to set their quickest lap in the former session. In this case, Mercedes opted for a safe approach and advanced on Pirelli’s super-soft tyre, while Ferrari gambled on getting its cars through on the more durable soft tyre despite the risk of the weather changing at the wrong moment.

The gamble succeeded and Vettel got through to Q2 on the soft tyre. Hamilton’s tyre will offer him more grip at the start, but Vettel’s tyres will go longer on the first stint.

“I was told that there’s not a huge difference, but there’s always a difference of some sort,” Hamilton said. “It will definitely be a little bit interesting. It’s not a massive run down to turn one but Ferrari are very good at their starts in general normally.

“However, we are actually quite even in terms of the overall year performance with Ferrari. We’re actually quite equal with them, so we’ve both had a similar amount of good starts so I’m excited to just have a battle, you know. But making that tyre last I think is going to be the interesting scenario but it is what it is. We’ll give it all we can tomorrow.”

Vettel won last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix by getting the jump on Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, on the short run down to Turn 1. Bolstered by the prospect of an alternate strategy to the newly-crowned 2018 world champion, Vettel is confident the race can

“All in all pretty happy,” Vettel said after qualifying. “I think we got the car where it is happiest, and the balance was good in qualifying throughout, so we’ll see. We’ll start with a different tyre tomorrow. Maybe that can make a difference.

“I think it’s the tyre that probably most of us probably wanted to start on but then with the conditions it was a bit tricky [to do it in Q2].

“We have an estimation of what the penalty might be with the harder compound at the start but it’s a very short way to turn one so we’ll see. I have quite good memories from P2, starting P2 here so we will see. I think it depends a lot more on the job that you do at the start, to get everything right then a little bit of difference on the tyres.”

Hamilton wrapped up the championship last time out at the Mexican Grand Prix. The Englishman has never won a grand prix having already secured that year’s championship — although 2008 and 2014 went down to the final race, in 2015 and 2017 he clinched titles with multiple rounds to spare.

Sebastian Vettel reprimanded for weighbridge incident

Has been reprimanded and fined €25,000 for failing to obey FIA officials during a routine weight check at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The incident occurred during the second part of qualifying when Vettel returned to the pits to switch tyre compounds. Rain was in the air and Ferrari was hoping to make a quick switch so Vettel could return to the track in dry conditions and set a time quick enough to progress to the top-10 shootout.

The FIA randomly calls drivers onto the weighbridge as they return to the pits to ensure cars are running legally at all times. However, with time at a premium, Vettel ignored the normal procedure of stopping before a cone and switching his engine off and instead knocked the cone out of the way and drove straight on to the scales.

He then switched his engine off momentarily to allow for a reading before firing it back up using his car’s hybrid system and driving off under his own power. FIA procedure requires drivers to be pushed on and off the weighbridge by officials to protect the scales, which sit under each wheel, from being damaged. Vettel ignored the procedure and damaged the scales.

Because he turned the engine off, Vettel did not actually break the wording of the sporting regulations surrounding the weighbridge and, therefore, did not receive a sporting penalty. But the stewards felt he should face a fine and reprimand for ignoring officials and creating a “potentially dangerous” situation.

“The stewards reviewed the video evidence from the on-board camera and pit lane CCTV, viewed team engine telemetry and heard from the driver of car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and team representative,” a statement said. ”The stewards first considered whether there was a breach of Article 29.1.a.i. as the driver both stopped at the FIA Garage and eventually stopped the engine, although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure, and a weight was obtained, these elements satisfy the requirements of the regulation and therefore the Stewards find no breach of this article.

“Nevertheless, the officials give directions to the drivers at the scales in order for the weighing procedure to be accomplished in an orderly and safe way, without the possibility of damaging the scales. The stewards observed that the driver did not stop the engine at the time he was directed by the official at the scales, knocked over the cone placed to stop the driver from driving onto the scales, which he then did. At the time he was being shown a sign to have his “Brakes On” by an official that was standing in front of the car, and while not hitting the official did force him out of the way while driving onto the scales. He then turned off the engine.

“Once the weight was taken he then did not wait for the officials to push the car off the scales, and while the stewards accept that he may have mis-understood the indication from the official, he then re-fired the car and drove off the scales, which is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case he did. While no one was hurt by the scales being thrown out from behind the car, and while the stewards accept that the driver did not drive off the scales in a reckless manner, the procedure is established exactly to prevent damage to the scales or a potentially dangerous situation, which is exactly what was caused.

“The stewards found that the driver failed to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the Event and order a Reprimand (non-driving) and a fine of €25,000.”

Source: The Telegraph