Before winning the pole, British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton was almost eliminated from the 2nd qualifying round (Q2) after the accident of Sebastian Vettel.
“One of the worst qualifying rounds in my career. Everything is so horrible, my heart wants to jump out,” Hamilton said after the Sochi race on September 26.
A serious accident with Vettel’s SF1000 at the end of Q2 caused the red flag to be raised, and the race stopped. Right now, Hamilton is still halfway through the second run, although there are only 2 minutes and 15 seconds remaining.
Before that, the first run result in Q2 of the British driver was canceled due to a violation. The glitch came to Hamilton when he turned wide and crossed the curb in the final corner at the first run, causing the result to be canceled.
The Mercedes driver wanted to continue with the second run, but was called back to the pit by the instructors. Hamilton had to return to the pit to change tires, supply and return to the track. But when he was almost done on the second run, the race was advanced.
When the race returned, Hamilton’s W11 was eighth in the pit lane exit queue. On the way to the starting line, the British driver had to try hard to pass many cars above, sometimes the W11 was thrown off the side. Towards the last corner when only a few seconds to race, Hamilton had to slow down because he could not pass the car of Esteban Ocon (Renault). Over the radio, racing engineer Peter Bonnington shouted urging Hamilton: “Hurry! Must go now.”
Finally, Mercedes driver promptly reached the starting line to start the test when the time was only a few seconds. If they fail or do not perform well in the only run, the British driver will be eliminated from Q2 with 15th place. 1 minute 32.835 seconds is enough to help Hamilton reach the top 10 with fourth place. Overcoming difficult and dramatic challenges in Q2, until Q3, Hamilton regained his inherent form. He scored 1 minute 31,391 seconds when he was near the end of the first run, 0.793 seconds faster, compared to Valtteri Bottas – his teammate reached 1 minute 32,184 seconds.
However, the switch to soft tires in the last run of Q2 makes the British driver to start with this tire, instead of the average tire of rival Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas. The average tire is rated as the optimal tire and has better performance at the official race. Therefore, Hamilton is expected to have difficulty in Sochi in the official race this afternoon on Sunday, September 27.
Bottas improved on the second run to 1 minute 31,956 seconds, but Hamilton did the same by raising the result to 1 minute 31,304 seconds. The qualifying race is almost exclusively British racing territory. In the back, in contrast to the disappointing performance in the test races, Verstappen surprised him when he surpassed Bottas to take second place. The Dutch driver’s performance was better than teammate Alex Albon by 1,141 seconds.