Hamilton fails to deliver in qualifying – Saturday noticebook

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F1 Grand Prix, GP United States, Circuit of The Americasus

Despite setting the pace on Friday, Lewis Hamilton failed to find the sweetspot of his Mercedes W10 in the qualifying session for today’s United States Grand Prix. In contrast to the Briton, his teammate Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat his rival to take his 11th career F1 pole position after struggling in Friday’s practices.

Not his day – Lewis Hamilton produced some impressive qualifying runs and race simulations on different tyre compounds on Friday, but he could not replicate that performance when it mattered the most in the all-important qualifying session. At the weekend when he can claim his sixth world title, he had to concede that he simply could not put a good lap together. “This must be one of the worst qualifying sessions I’ve had in a long time. Clearly the car had the capability to be on the front row, I just couldn’t put the lap together. Now I’ll have to try and figure out what went wrong today and how I can get myself to the front.”

The Briton thinks that overtaking will be rather difficult, but a clever strategic move could see him moving up the order. “It’s going to be a tough challenge trying to get past two Ferraris, a Red Bull and Valtteri, but I’ll continue to work at it and hope that I can do a better job tomorrow.”

Technical directive – FIA issued a technical directive before the United States Grand Prix to clarify the regulation regarding the fuel flow limits. The governing body reacted on Red Bull Racing’s request for clarification after the energy drink-owned outfit accused Ferrari of using technical tricks that might allow the Maranello-based squad to get around the tight fuel flow limits.

Red Bull advisor dr Helmut Marko said that his outfit wanted to get clarification as soon as possible. "Ferrari’s lead with the advantage is just too blatant. The request has been around for some time, but because we did not hear from the FIA, we have intensified it now," he is quoted as saying by auto motor und sport.

The fuel flow limit is 100kg per hour. FIA measures the flow rate in intervals which means that it is theoretically possible to exceed the maximum rate as long as the average during the given period is within the limit. Following Red Bull's request, the governing body explained that the flow rate must not exceed the limit at any time when the car is on the track.

Already too long – Formula One calendar already comprises a total of 21 races and it is expected to grow even further next year. With the Vietnam and the Dutch Grand Prix, two new venues are set to join the sport while only the German Grand Prix will lose its place on the calendar, meaning that the schedule will be even more intense with 22 events. The new Commercial Rights Holder Liberty Media is rumored to ponder about increasing the number of races even further.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton thinks that the season is already too long and it places a huge stress on everyone involved in the sport. "When I was young, I couldn’t get enough of the races. But when you work in a team and see for how long the people are separated from their families, they need a balance. The season is already too long now.”

One-stopper as the preferred strategy– After the Mexican Grand Prix where making the right strategy calls was rather tough, the United Stated Grand Prix looks to be much simpler in terms of choosing the quickest strategy. The sport’s tyre supplier Pirelli recommends a one-stop strategy for today’s 56-lap race in Texas. Fastest is a one-stopper, using the soft for 22 to 25 laps and the medium for 31 to 34 laps. Second fastest is another one-stopper, using the medium for 24 to 27 laps and the hard for 29 to 32 laps. There’s also a viable two-stopper, which is also competitive. It goes like this: use two sets of soft for 15 to 18 laps, then medium for 20 to 26 laps.