Hamilton: F1 needs a safe race

p1971Sport-1-1

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Lewis Hamilton is simply hoping for a clean and safe Russian Grand Prix a week on from the sadness of a race to forget in Japan.

Formula One has done its utmost these past two days to ensure it is business as usual in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s horrifying accident that has left the Frenchman’s life hanging in the balance.

But there remains an over-riding sombre mood in the paddock at a time when the sport should be celebrating its debut in Russia.

During qualifying, Formula One Management, who control the television feed for all networks, superimposed a message on the final corner of the Sochi Autodrom that would have been seen by millions that read: ‘Jules We Are Thinking Of You’.

Hamilton ultimately held sway in qualifying, grabbing his seventh pole position this season and 38th of his career, with Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg forced to settle for second.

There was a scare for this year’s all-conquering marque as Valtteri Bottas, on his final hot lap, was quickest in the first two sectors.

The Finn may have taken pole for Sunday’s race if he had kept it together, only to make a mistake in the final third that cost him dear, leaving him to line up third behind Mercedes’ ninth front-row lock-out this campaign.

Hamilton was naturally happy enough, although thoughts were tempered by Bianchi’s condition, with the 25-year-old still critical in the Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi.

“It’s something I’m trying my hardest not to think too much about,” said Hamilton.

“We all know it’s tough for everyone here. Getting into the car this weekend is proving the weirdest and one of the most difficult (experiences) in my racing career.

“We just need to keep the pedal down, keep going, and all I can hope is we have a strong, positive race, that everyone is safe tomorrow.”

At the rear of the grid, Hamilton’s British compatriot Max Chilton has conceded to the going being hard this weekend without Bianchi alongside him in the Marussia garage.

Chilton qualified last of the 21 drivers, with Marussia running only one car as a mark of respect for Bianchi.

The 22-year-old, who will start 20th due to a penalty for Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, said: “A tough weekend and one that hasn’t got any easier as we’ve progressed towards the race.

“I’m grateful for having the whole team around me as I think it is helping all of us to focus, but the fac t is, it’s not the same without my team-mate.”

As Marussia’s chief engineer Dave Greenwood noted, there will only be one person on the collective minds of the team on Sunday.

“It has been another day of digging deep in order to focus on the immediate job in hand,” said Greenwood.

“On Friday we made mention of the strength of the team, but today brought home to us the burden on Max’s shoulders.

“This is a brand new circuit and the first barometer for a driver is always his team-mate in equal equipment. Max is flying solo here.

“The challenge hasn’t become any easier this week, and the race will certainly be tougher still.

“But hopefully we’ll find strength in the fact that, tomorrow, all of us, including Max, will be racing for Jules.”

With a 10-point lead over Rosberg in the standings after a run of three successive victories, momentum is certainly on Hamilton’s side as he seeks to clinch his second drivers’ title.

Although delighted with pole and his run of form at present, the 29-year-old knows the finishing line is still far from in sight.

What is fast looming on the horizon is the prospect of Mercedes’ winning the constructors’ title on Sunday.

Hamilton added: “It will be a historic moment for us and for me as a part of this team.

“With Mercedes-Benz having never won a constructors’ championship, it’s going to be the first time, it will be a very special moment – when we get there.”

Outside of the top three, Jenson Button was fourth in his McLaren, the veteran’s second best grid slot of the year.

Home hero Daniil Kvyat conjured his best qualifying performance of his debut season with Toro Rosso as the Russian secured fifth.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen qualified sixth, but drops five places to 11th courtesy of a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, still in with a faint sniff of the title as he trails Hamilton by 73 points, will line up sixth ahead of Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search