Sunday 17 November 2019

F1: Hamilton can only fume as Vettel makes it four in a row

Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel. Photo: Getty Images
Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel. Photo: Getty Images

Tom Cary , in Sepang

In the end the forecast downpours never materialised, although Lewis Hamilton stepped out of his cockpit with a face like thunder.

While the 'Sebastian Vettel Show' rumbles on -- that's four wins in a row for the German if you include the back end of last season, and five out of six -- Hamilton had, in his own words, a "shocking" afternoon and caused a stir by blaming his result on McLaren's strategy.

Fingers were poised, ready for further lightning bolts, but Hamilton stopped short of accusing his team of gross negligence. Publicly at least.

The 26-year-old said he was happy to take his share of the blame for a frustrating day at the office, claiming that the communication between himself and the pit wall had not been strong enough with regard to which tyres to use and when to pit.

"You work as a team," he said. "I've got to listen to our tyre specialist and we have to make a team decision. It wasn't the strongest of races for us."


To cap a frustrating day for the 2008 world champion, two hours after the race had ended he received a harsh 20-second penalty for a 'weaving' incident that occurred at some unspecified point during a rearguard battle with his old nemesis Fernando Alonso, which relegated him from seventh to eighth in the final standings.

No one had been aware that Hamilton was being investigated.

All eyes had been on their coming together a lap later, when the Spaniard -- whom Hamilton had described as the Alain Prost to his Ayrton Senna earlier in the week -- clipped the McLaren's right rear tyre while trying another overtaking manoeuvre.

That earned Alonso a 20-second penalty, although, as if to rub further salt in Hamilton's wounds, he held on to his sixth spot. "He's not really had a penalty (but) I'm not going to argue or disagree with the stewards," Hamilton shrugged. "That's racing. I just had a shocking race, to be honest."

While both drivers had reason to feel frustrated over their penalties, there will be plenty suggesting that Hamilton was the architect of his own downfall.

A highly technical, some would say confusing, race was decided by tyre-management, and over the race weekend Hamilton did not manage his as well as others. His blistering speed can sometimes be literally so.

Hamilton's team-mate, Jenson Button, fared better in this regard, finishing ahead of Nick Heidfeld's Renault in second place by employing the old tortoise and hare routine. Button moves up to second in the standings, on 26 points, behind the runaway leader Vettel, who already looks like cutting loose on 50.

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