Lewis Hamilton to start 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix from pit lane
PUBLISHED: 11:24 12 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:00 12 November 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start today’s 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix from last place after crashing out of qualifying.
Mercedes drivers will line up at the front and the back of the field in São Paulo, with Valtteri Bottas on pole position and Hamilton starting the race from the pit lane.
The 32-year-old F1 driver from Hertfordshire went from title-winning hero to zero after spectacularly crashing into the tyre wall at Turn 6 in Q1 on Saturday.
It was the first time Stevenage-born racer Hamilton had gone out in Q1 since Belgium 2016.
Damage to his Silver Arrows car means he will start from the pit lane as Mercedes engineers had to break parc ferme to fit a new power unit and internal combustion engine (ICE).
After qualifying, Hamilton said: “I’m not really sure what happened, it all happened very quickly, but I take full responsibility.
“Of course, today is not the result that I would hope for, but challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them makes life meaningful.
“It is unfortunate – but it is what it is.
“I am just going to try to take the bubble of negativity that comes from that experience, learn from it, and move forward.
“Years ago, I came from quite far behind and had a great race, so I will try to have as much fun as possible tomorrow [Sunday].”
In Hamilton’s absence, Mercedes colleague Bottas stormed to pole position in qualifying at Interlagos – his third career pole position and first at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
Saturday’s qualifying result marks the 14th pole position for the Silver Arrows in 2017.
Bottas completed one run on the SuperSoft tyres in Q1, then two runs in both Q2 and Q3 to beat the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to pole.
The Finn said: “It was so close in qualifying, as it always tends to be in Brazil.
“I knew going into the last run in Q3 that I had to improve if I wanted to be on pole.
“I could feel and see that I was improving corner after corner. It’s such a good feeling to get everything together in the end.”
As for his team-mate, Bottas added: “It was very unfortunate that Lewis wasn’t there for Q2 and Q3.
“So it was up to me to deliver for the team, and I’m very happy that I could.
“I have the clear goal to still try and become second in the Drivers’ Championship.
“Having a good target makes everyone in the team work harder, including myself.
“It’s going to be important to have a good, clean race, but it won’t be easy, the Ferraris are very quick as well.
“Turn 1 and 2 are always tricky in Interlagos, but hopefully I will get a good getaway so there won’t be any issues.
“It’s only my third pole position, so I will very much like the view from the starting line.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said it was “an unusual” qualifying session.
He said: “It started out pretty badly and finished pretty well! First of all, a brilliant job from Valtteri.
“It was a great lap from Sebastian in Q3, so Valtteri had to pull out all the stops to claim pole position. And he did.
“After a tough night for a number of our boys following yesterday evening’s incident, this was the perfect reward for their professionalism and dedication.”
Wolff added: “It was a tough session for Lewis and obviously very unusual to see him not set a time in qualifying.
“But rather than focus on the shunt, I was struck by the way he went straight to parc ferme to be the first to congratulate Valtteri on his pole position.
“That’s a small example of our team spirit and the trust between two team-mates.
“Now it’s all eyes on tomorrow’s race.
“Lewis has a mountain to climb – but if anybody can, he can.
“And for Valtteri, there can only be one target. It will be an exciting, close race but we will be aiming to come out on top.”
Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin said: “Qualifying got off to a bad start with Lewis’ accident at Turn 6 and this left us with just one car to focus on.
“Valtteri rose admirably to the challenge and did a great job.
“He improved on every run and put in a fantastic final lap, in tricky conditions with some light rain hanging around, and deservedly added another pole position to his growing collection.”
Looking ahead to the grand prix, he added: “We are expecting Ferrari and Red Bull to be very close to us on race pace.
“Interlagos always serves up an exciting Grand Prix and we don’t expect tomorrow to be any different.”