F1 conundrums No 2: Lewis Hamilton – This is the second of an occasional series of articles where an incident is chosen and then aspects of that incident considered from different perspectives, often with conflicting outcomes.
The reader will then be asked their opinion on the mater.
No2: Lewis Hamilton: 6x WDC. Are the marshals ‘out to get him’ or did he know EXACTLY what he was doing when he did those ‘illegal’ practice starts in Russia?
A bit of background: Hamilton has won six WDC titles, the last five with Mercedes who, with the help of Nico Rosberg, have won the last six WDC in a row.
Hamilton has broken an awful lot of records recently, but perhaps the two most significant ones are yet to be achieved: he currently has 90 race wins and a win in Sochi would have given him 91 wins, equalling Michael Schumacher’s (previously thought to be un-matchable) 91 F1 wins.
He is also well on track (forgive the pun) to equal Michael’s seven WDC record wins.
However, things were not going to plan in Sochi for Lewis and things really began to go pear-shaped when, during the second round of qualifying, Hamilton had his time deleted for breaching track limits.
This meant Lewis had to do a second flying lap, but this time on soft tyres. To make a bad situation worse, Vettel (now there’s another conundrum) lost the rear of his Ferrari on turn two and by turn four had crashed into the barriers, causing a lot of drivers (Hamilton included) to lose their current flying lap.
The session was red-flagged with two minutes and fifteen seconds left on the clock. Well, what a kerfuffle ensued when qualifying did re-start: Lots of cars, all trying to make it into the top ten shootout, were lined up at the end of the pitlane.
Gasly slowed down in the pit lane, backing others up behind him and Lewis left the pit lane late (presumably to avoid the traffic). This meant, that after his warm-up lap he made it to the start line with one second to spare, unlike Sainz and Perez who didn’t make it in time.
Needless to say, Lewis got into Q3 from whence he took his 96th pole position (another record). HOWEVER, he would have to start the race on this very set of tyres which had already done one aborted lap, a second warm-up lap and a flying lap, plus he was on the soft compound tyres when his two nearest rivals, Bottas and Verstappen had both qualified on much younger, more robust medium tyres.
Added to this, the run to turn 2 (turn 1 is merely a kink in the track) is very long, the cars have a lot of drag and the car in pole position can give following cars ‘a tow’ by ‘punching a hole in the air ‘ allowing the following cars to follow in his slipstream relatively easily. Well, winning the race would have been hard enough without this to contend with!
Come race day, Lewis then did what appeared to be one practice start from outside the pit lane (not allowed). So, the question is, were the marshals ‘out to get him’ as he claimed after the race OR did he know EXACTLY what he was doing by practising these starts from an ‘illegal’ position, effectively giving himself the perfect excuse for not winning his 91st GP which, as we’ve seen above may have been difficult anyway?
Over to you, readers! It will be very interesting to know your opinion on this matter!