Lewis Hamilton AVOIDS grid penalty after stewards investigation, keeping his front row start for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix despite being penalised for exceeding track limits
- Lewis Hamilton qualified second fastest behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas
- Hamilton was under investigation for two separate incidents on his final run
- He was facing a three-place grid penalty for speeding under yellow flags
- The Brit escaped that but was penalised for exceeding track limits in turn 10
Lewis Hamilton will keep his front-row start for Sunday’s Austria Grand Prix despite having his quickest qualifying time wiped off by the stewards.
Hamilton qualified second fastest behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas during Saturday’s session, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third.
It represents an ominous start to the rescheduled season for Mercedes, whose front row lock-out looked to be at threat when the Brit was summoned to the stewards office accused of exceeding track limits and ignoring yellow flags.
Lewis Hamltion has escaped a grid penalty after qualifying second for Sunday’s Austrian GP
The Brit was alleged to have exceeded track limits and failed to slow down under yellow flags
Hamilton’s fastest lap time was chalked off but he will remain alongside Bottas on the front row
Both incidents took place on Hamilton’s final lap of Q3 which saw Bottas run wide into the gravel, blowing a huge cloud of dust across the track and bringing out the yellow warning signs.
Hamilton – following behind the eventual pole-sitter – stormed through, later admitting to SkySports’ Paul di Resta that he hadn’t been affected by Bottas’ error as he improved on his previous fastest lap.
The Mercedes star could have been slapped with a grid penalty for the incident after Verstappen dropped three spots for a similar infringement at last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Mercedes will enjoy the luxury of a front-row lock-out for the opening round of the season
That would have left Hamilton behind Verstappen, McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Dutchman’s team-mate Alex Albon, landing the 35-year-old on the third row.
However, the stewards decided Hamilton was not in breach of the rules on that occasion, instead deleting his final – and quickest – lap for exceeding the Spielberg track’s limits at turn 10.
Luckily for Mercedes, Hamilton’s second-best effort was still good enough to edge Verstappen, who will be the German setup’s biggest challenger on Sunday.
Bottas’ error during his final Q3 run saw him fly into the gravel, blowing a huge cloud of dust
Hamilton is chasing his seventh world title this season after a long wait to get going this year
‘Not that I saw, no,’ Hamilton responded when asked if he saw the warning flags.
‘I came round the corner, I got on the power and I thought that Valtteri perhaps had just gone wide and come back on the track further up the road.
‘I was looking out for the gravel on the track and for a car on the track, but there was nothing there so I continued.
‘Then I saw as I was going into, I think it was to Turn Six that Valtteri was much further to the left. It happened pretty quick and pretty big puff dust.’
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