Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2018

Controversy reigns as Hamilton beats frustrated Vettel to Brazil pole

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton broke the Interlagos track record as he claimed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel.

But the talk of the session was of incidents involving both drivers including one in which Vettel was accused of breaking the FIA’s weighbridge scales – for which he is under investigation.


The skies darkened as the qualifying hour approached. The threat of rain had risen from 40% to 60% since the end of final practice, and a shower in the latter stages of Q1 shaped the outcome of the session.

The difference between lap times on the short Interlagos track was miniscule. While Max Verstappen headed Q1 on a 1’08.205, the next five drivers were all on a 1’08.4. These were the two Ferraris – who set identical times to within a thousandth of a second – the Mercedes pair and, unexpectedly, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

The same scenario was repeated lower down the timing screens and made the difference between who reached Q2 and who didn’t almost imperceptibly slim. Five drivers ended the session on a 1’09.2 including the Force India pair. Esteban Ocon only narrowly made it through after locking a wheel at Bido de Pato on his final run.

The rain arrived in the final minutes and scuppered several drivers’ efforts to reach Q2. Carlos Sainz Jnr got within five-thousandths of a second of knocking Ocon out but made a rare departure in the first round.

Sergey Sirotkin was on the right side of the 1’09.2 divide but Brendon Hartley dropped out, two-tenths slower than team mate Pierre Gasly. Lance Stroll and, inevitably, the McLaren pair completed those who dropped out.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Carlos Sainz Jnr Renault 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


The rain lingered into Q2 and left drivers hedging their bets on which tyres to use. Ferrari opted for softs, giving them the chance to start the race on the preferable tyre compound, but made the change late.

There was drama as Vettel was summoned, at random, to the weigh bridge, at an inconvenient moment. The Ferrari driver drove onto the scales under his car’s own power, in violation of FIA protocol, and drove off again afterwards. The technical delegate Jo Bauer accused Vettel of destroying their weighing equipment by doing this and he is under investigation by the stewards.

That wasn’t the end of the controversy. Having made it into Q2, Sirotkin had a near-miss with the newly-minted world champion. Nearing the end of a lap, the Williams driver came upon Hamilton at the approach to Juncao.

Hamilton, going considerably slower than the Williams on the racing line, dodged left as Sirotkin approached. But the Williams driver was already taking avoiding action and ended up on the grass as he passed the Mercedes.

It wasn’t the only run-in with one of his rivals for Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen had to swerve around the Mercedes on the Reta Oposta back straight when he too caught Hamilton suddenly.

While all this was going on, Charles Leclerc had seemingly missed his chance to claim a place in Q3. The Sauber driver ran wide at turn two as the rain fell, and with track conditions deteriorating his hopes of reaching the final 10 looked to be over.

But Leclerc persisted, and with a superb final effort including a flying final sector, he dislodged Magnussen’s Haas from the final top 10 spot. Magnussen joined Sirotkin, Nico Hulkenberg and the Force India pair who all failed to make the cut.

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Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’08.659
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’08.741
13 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1’08.770
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’08.834
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1’10.381


After an intense and unpredictable Q2, the final part of qualifying was much more straightforward. While doubt hung over the status of Vettel and Hamilton following their earlier incidents, the former championship contenders fought as closely as ever over pole position.

The first runs left Hamilton ahead but tantalisingly within reach for Vettel, the pair both setting 1’07.3s. But with their final efforts Hamilton was the only one who found more – fractionally – establishing a new track record with a lap of 1’07.281.

Their team mates lined up behind them in the same order, each within two-tenths of a second of pole, and followed by the Red Bulls in their customary fifth and sixth places. However Daniel Ricciardo’s penalty means Marcus Ericsson, the quickest of the midfield drivers, will be promoted to sixth place.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’07.281
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’07.374
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’07.441
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’07.456
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’07.778
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’07.780
7 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’08.296
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1’08.492
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’08.517
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1’09.029

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2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Controversy reigns as Hamilton beats frustrated Vettel to Brazil pole”

  1. If Vettel gets penalized then so should Hamilton as well for the sake of fairness and consistency. What Hamilton did was worse than what Vettel did.

    1. @jerejj By all means penalize one, both or neither, but they’re completely unrelated and it makes no sense to make a connection.

      1. Indeed.

    2. @jerejj, as David BR notes, the penalties should not be linked together because you want it to be the case that “if my guy gets a penalty, then I want his rival to get one as well”. No, if you really want “fairness and consistency”, then the incidents involving Hamilton and Vettel should be considered separately and evaluated on their own merits.

      If the stewards believe that the behaviour of either driver warrants action, then penalties can be applied to those that merit one – but it shouldn’t be the case that another driver is penalised simply because of the actions of another driver in a completely unrelated case, it should be solely on whether the actions of the driver were in the wrong.

      After all, if the roles had been reversed, would you be arguing in the cause of “fairness and consistency” for Vettel to get a penalty if it had been Vettel who’d been involved in an incident on track, and it had been Hamilton who’d damaged the weigh bridge?

      1. @anon ”After all, if the roles had been reversed, would you be arguing in the cause of “fairness and consistency” for Vettel to get a penalty if it had been Vettel who’d been involved in an incident on track, and it had been Hamilton who’d damaged the weigh bridge?” – Yes, indeed.

        1. No you wouldn’t have

    3. No way FIA penalizes Hamilton….he’s the golden child.

  2. Great lap from Lewis. Sirotkin speeding up when he knew Hamilton was ahead and preparing for a hot lap made no sense. I’m not it was ‘disrespectful’ but certainly wasn’t sensible. Vettel’s frustration was understandable, we want to see racing for pole, not cars being weighed. Come on FIA, work out a better solution.

    1. That really looks like you are are saying “How dare anyone behind Lewis dare to go fast – do they not know who he is!”

      1. You clearly know that drivers set themselves up for a fast lap by giving themselves a gap in the final corners of the warm up lap and – more importantly – that all the drivers obviously know that the other drivers may be doing so too. It’s just a question of common sense, mutual respect and basic precaution. Anyhow the stewards found no issue however desperate fans might be to find one.

    2. @david-br this system has been working for years, maybe even decades. Its easy and it ensures cars are not lighter than they should. Just because one guy doesn’t mind and gets easily frustrated doesn’t mean it has to change.

      1. It shouldn’t be changed however discretion could perhaps be used in circumstances such as changeable weather etc? If the random check had resulted in VET missing out on Q3 as a HAM fan It’s my opinion the fans would be at a loss.

        1. Yep, that was specifically my point. @fer-no65 I agree the system works fine in general, but in rapidly changing conditions it both seems unfair and could have deprived us of seeing the battle for pole.

  3. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
    10th November 2018, 19:19

    It would be fair if HAM gets a penalty, but there is consistency that he gets a different treatment.
    He is also allowed to cut chicanes without a penalty, for instance

    1. Why? Did he break the same rule as Vettel?

      1. Well, he did brake the same rule Vettel broke is Austria, for wich he got penalized, soo…

        1. No he didn’t.

          1. Yes, he did.

        2. No, he didn’t. Sirotkin was not in a hot lap.

          1. Raikkonen was on a hot lap and got impeded by Hamilton and the rule says nothing about hot laps. Hamilton did enough to get penalized twice.

          2. Pedro

            Lewis was moving off the racing line and Kimi followed to take the slipstream. Kimi said nothing, so no he did not block him.

    2. @rebelangelfloyd Just like Vettel is allowed to crash in people left amd right like in Max in Japan so don’t even start or how Ferrari was allowed to keep their points despite having an illegal battery.

      1. If you’re going to mention illegal batteries, don’t forget to mention “illegal wheels”.

        1. The wheels were deemed to be legal by the FIA, you know.

          1. so were the battery’s ;)

      2. It’s Mercedes not Ferrari cheating with oil burn.

    3. @rebelangelfloyd ”He is also allowed to cut chicanes without a penalty, for instance”
      – No, he isn’t.

        1. LOL, of all the times Hamilton has cut a chicane, you had to choose the one where he gave the advantage back! Why don’t you try again!

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            10th November 2018, 23:00

            If he had slowed up to make the corner instead of keeping it buried he’d have lost the lead.
            I don’t recall him dropping down the order at all so no, he didn’t give the advantage back

          2. No, he wouldn’t, he would have kept the lead easily, given second place clashed with third place, also went off the circuit slowing the entire pack as you can see unless you’re being willingly blind, so slowing up to give back the time difference is all he needed to and and he did. He wasn’t penalised because this was plain for the stewards, and all their data to see.

            Of course the alternative is that the Fia is a secret cabal, conspiring to make him win all the time by not penalising him because (paranoid mumbling) reasons.

    4. @rebelangelfloyd – Like in Belgium, 2008…

    5. Hey, kids… Get A Grip…!

  4. The author needs to get a grip. Controversy reigns, no it doesn’t. Click bait article.

    1. Well said.

      1. Headlines tomorrow: “Controversy reigns in infamous F1 news blog comments section. News outlet yet to reply.”

    2. I mean, it does reign supreme, it will make the difference between the front row having Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen

      1. Maybe someone should tell Seb to have a look in the mirror or call Rosberg to get the number for the ‘mind coach’ he used in 2016

        1. Not related to anything I said but ok

    3. I kind of agree in this case. The Hamilton incident was only really controversial for the media. Sirotkin had no issue and the teams and drivers seemed to concur that it was a circumstantial incident. Yet most of the reports have focused on ‘controversy,’ proclaiming that Hamilton got to ‘keep’ pole when the incident wasn’t even investigated. The qualifying session was good and the focus should be on that. Vettel’s incident was somewhat different, partly because he lost his temper, but partly because he had good reason to be annoyed as the weighing could have cost him when the track is changing all the time due to rain.

  5. Hamilton is the cleanest driver on the track. Hard but fair racer. And today when Ferrari was the car to beat he still managed to get pole. 5 Ferrari engines in the top 10 and K Mag was so close to top 10 and just missed out just shows that Ferrari engine is the most powerful right now.

    This is roughly the story of the season. With top 2 cars so close yet Lewis making the difference and getting those pole positions and wins. And Ferrari engine undisputably the most powerful.

    1. Q2 his head wasn’t clear first he drove Kimi from the track and later Sirotkin endanger both of them which is a penaulty worth. Gasley got one for getting in his teammate way (or was it the otherway around)

      1. Difference being Hamilton didn’t impede anyone on a hot lap. The Kimi incident was actually (I think) the result of *both* drivers thinking the other was taking the racing line.

        The Sirotkin incident, given that neither driver was on a hot lap, and Hamilton was backing off to get space for his hot lap, was just weird. I’m not sure why Sirotkin felt he needed to pass Hamilton at racing speed– and again, Hamilton yielded the racing line, but Sirotkin had already decided to pass off-line.

        Both could have been disastrous, but fortunately, neither one was.

        1. I should not make a difference if is was a hot lap or not. That’s not for Ham to decide.
          He endangered twice.. looks he lost his concentration because his actions were strange to say the least.

          1. Well, it does make a difference – a driver on a hot lap has right of way over a driver not on a hotlap, but two drivers who are not on a hotlap do not have any rights over each other. Sirotkin was the one acting strangely, his tyres were cold and he has admitted to going round way quicker than would be expected to get temperature into them. Raikkonnen choose to move off the racing line for ?? reasons and go around the outside of hamilton – slipstreaming attempt? There was room on the racing line as he came around the corner from what I could see.

        2. Why would Lewis take the racing line when he wasn’t on the hotlap while Kimi behind him was on a hot lap? There wasn’t enough safe room on the racing line. Lewis should never have been close to the racing line at that point.
          I understand and agree about the Sirotkin incident and agree with Lewis that Sirotkin should be reprimanded.
          As for Seb, while it seemed unfair for him to be pulled up for weighing it is the rules and he should have followed them. I expected a harsher penalty. I wonder if the fact that the FIA themselves seemed to not be ready for him was considered in giving the penalty.

      2. At Baku? The other way around

      3. Hey, kids… Get A Grip…!

  6. Vettel seems to be having more and more anger management problems and today’s weigh bridge is just the latest.
    The driver’s championship shouldn’t have any influence on penalties but, now that’s finished in any case, maybe F1 should finally throw the book at him to get him to cut it out.

  7. “Formula arbitrary bureaucracy” – unless Hamilton gets a penalty I’m done with this c**p: Any midfielder would have been penalized two million times for running on the racing line in front of faster cars before the two transmission even finished. Rigged game.

    1. Or Sirotkin, the least experienced driver on track, compounded a mistake? Worth considering before throwing your hobby away.

    2. Yea, Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari, Stewards, Race Direction, FIA and Liberty are all in a conspiracy to protect Hamilton just to upset you. Oh yea, and Ricciardo who agrees with Hamilton……and obviously all the other drivers; except Sirotkin, who also slow before that corner to get the best traction for the hot lap. But I’m sure you will stick to your guns and never comment on or watch this cr*p again.

    3. You will not be missed.

    4. Hey, kids… Get A Grip…!

  8. Hamilton is the cleanest driver on the track

    I’d suggest checking with the Flat-Earth Society

    1. Currently on 0 penalty points so I’d say he’s pretty damn clean

      1. Of course he is “clean”. He can get away with blocking multiple others drivers in a single session! He’s as clean as a mobster with good lawyers.

        1. There’s nothing the guy can’t get away with nowadays. Next year he’ll have the title handed to him without even bothering to show up at the races or whatever.

          1. Point to us on the doll where Hamilton refused to touch you.

          2. Would have had to be in the same timezone first. No way.

    2. To be fair they make more sense than you do.

      1. A-ha, we’ve spotted a true believer here

    3. He is a very fair and clean driver. Extremely fair and clean when you consider who is/was on the grid with him.

      I’m not a fan of Hamilton in particular, but I respect his skill and he has been clean and fair apart from liegate.

      Save your hate for something that matters and makes sense. Maybe for when you look in the mirror.

      1. Maybe.. but not today!

      2. Send me your pic instead, need to brush up my dart skills

    4. Hey, kids… Get A Grip…!

  9. HansieSlim (@)
    10th November 2018, 21:59

    I wont say the incidents involving Vettel and Hamilton controversial…. the title seems more like click bait to me

  10. The comments really go downhill when there’s a possibility of penalties for Hamilton and Vettel, it’s a shame because there’s plenty to discuss.

  11. No one has mentioned Ericsson in the comments yet, so I’ll ablige…
    What a fantastic lap. That is all.

    1. I thought Ericsson, Gasley and Lclerc all did good work today.
      The midfield has some genuinely hard working drivers who mostly go unnoticed :(

    2. Very impressive from Sauber today and especially from Marcus who was strong in all qualifying sessions and best of the rest. Sauber has a chance to close in on Racing Point in the constructors if both Saubers finish high up in the race. Right now it is 11 points between Sauber and Racing Point!

  12. I’m glad LeClerc didn’t listen to the pit wall and did another hot lap. It was exceptional!

  13. I get the impression that the FIA (and FOM, as well) are more lenient towards Hamilton because:

    (a) He is Formula 1’s biggest draw at the moment, where he energizes not just the “true” motorsport fans but the fanbase of those outside the sport as well (i.e. band wagoners). So the FIA are keen to ensure that they don’t hurt F1’s main man whenever he’s in position to win — since that is what the “fans” (those who don’t know any other driver other than Lewis) came to see.

    This isn’t too different to the Conor McGregor dilemma UFC previously(?) faced, when Dana White continually turned a blind eye to the Irishman’s juvenile and dangerous behavior; since coming down heavy on him would have meant the company would lose immediate access to its biggest star (even when his actions led to people getting injured).

    Lewis is not reckless like McGregor is, but you get the picture…

    (b) In today’s politically correct atmosphere, the FIA and FOM are probably wary being put in a bad light; where the FIA are afraid that even if they impose a fair penalty on Lewis, he (i.e. Monaco 2011) and his legion of followers would attack frame it as the “establishment” picking on F1’s minority.

    1. I don’t know what’s more insane, that you think Bernie Ecclestone gave a fig what the fans were shouting into the empty dead meaningless void of the social media he detested openly or that you believe Lewis Hamilton is F1’s biggest draw given we know Ferrari and Raikkonnen respectively have the largest team/driver fanbases.

      1. Ooooh, oooh – no, I know what it is…. it’s that you made this statement after Sirotkin stated that he was the driver who was acting unexpectedly and that Hamilton did nothing wrong – that’s the most insane thing about your post!

      2. Wait. What! Kimi has the biggest fan base in F1? Oh stop it. Kimi is known only in F1 circles. Hamilton is F1’s biggest attraction right now, even bigger than Ferrari.

        1. Lol, I would like some of what you are smoking!

          Hamilton a bigger brand than Ferrari in F1?

          He is not even as big as Senna let alone Schumacher.

    2. Hey, kids… Get A Grip…!

  14. 68 comments (above) – many argumentative – seems to suggest that controversy does indeed reign. I therefore rule that the headline has been vindicated. Well done Keith!

Comments are closed.