Brazilian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton to start sprint race from last after being excluded from qualifying
Lewis Hamilton will start Saturday evening’s sprint qualifying race at the Brazilian Grand Prix from the back of the field after seeing his qualifying time excluded.
The British racer had posted the best time and was due to start the sprint in first place but will now line up at the back of the grid, with rival Max Verstappen in pole position instead, in the latest blow to Hamilton’s hopes of retaining the title.
Mercedes driver Hamilton was summoned to the stewards for a technical infringement during qualifying related to his car’s DRS.
The rear wing assembly of his car was removed and inspected overnight and FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer noted the vehicle was not in compliance with rules.
As a result, the punishmen handed down is that Hamilton will be excluded from qualifying results, meaning he will either start from the back of the grid or potentially from the pit lanes, reports AutoSport.
The result of the sprint race on Saturday evening determines the grid order for Sunday’s main race, where Hamilton is already facing a five-place penalty for Mercedes’ decision to use a new engine.
Explaining the decision, a statement from the stewards read:
“When DRS is activated, which raises the upper element of the wing to a flatter position, the gap must be between 10mm and 85mm. The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test.
“In this case, the gauge would not pass through at the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing. This test was repeated four times with two different gauges, once being done in the presence of the Stewards and representatives of the Competitor.”
Mercedes’ Chief Designer John Owen claimed the error could be down to “incorrect assembly of parts” or a combination of faults with the DRS actuator or pivots.
Separately, Verstappen has also been fined €50,000 after touching Hamilton’s car in the parc ferme, a breach of rules after qualifying.
That will prove of little concern to him in light of his title rival facing a massive uphill battle to earn points in the championship race this weekend, with just three further races to come after Sao Paulo.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas will line up in second place for the 100km sprint, hoping to limit the damage the Brit might face in the drivers’ standings and even knowing that two top-three finishes for Red Bull could see them overtake Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.
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