Wednesday 21 August 2019

Lewis Hamilton hits out over helmet ruling as champion pays tribute to Ayrton Senna

The helmet of Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain is seen painted with
The helmet of Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain is seen painted with "S" in tribute to late Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna of Brazil, November 13, 2015. The Brazilian Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Formula One's hierarchy for outlawing a driver from changing the design of their crash helmet.

Hamilton, who arrived in Brazil under a cloud on Thursday after he crashed his £1.5milllion limited edition Pagani Zonda supercar in Monaco earlier this week, is sporting a tribute to his idol Ayrton Senna for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, the newly-crowned triple world champion, has altered his design to replicate Senna's yellow, green and blue colour scheme on the back of his helmet.

Under the new regulations, introduced by the FIA earlier this year, a driver must have "substantially" the same helmet colours at each round of the championship.

The law was enforced after drivers such as Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion, would regularly change the design of their helmet throughout the season.

"Unfortunately it is difficult to change your helmet design, which is the most stupid thing I have ever heard of," said Hamilton - who topped the timesheets on Friday morning before ending the second session behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

"What they have allowed us to do is at least change a small part of the helmet which is enough.

"I think the changing of the helmet design, like Sebastian used to do, is difficult for people to recognise and I understand that.

"Not having the freedom is a bit weird but I was able to do something at the back, which did not change the look from the front, so people can still recognise it."

Hamilton, who is recovering from a fever, hit a stationary vehicle in the early hours of Tuesday morning after he lost control of his supercar.

But the incident did not appear to have any ill-effects on the Briton after he headed the order in the opening session at Interlagos - only for the roles to be reversed later in the day.

"The car feels good here - but I think it's going to be a close, hard-fought weekend," said Hamilton who has failed to win at the home of his hero Senna in his eight previous attempts.

"Last year in the race I had really good pace - but it's hard trying to find the right balance that works in qualifying and the race.

"I really need to improve my grid position this time because that determines the race result really."

Rosberg, winner of this race last year, was half-a-second faster than his Mercedes team-mate, but the German does not believe it was a true reflection of Hamilton's outright pace.

"The times in the afternoon were not showing the real picture, as Lewis drove in different engine modes to me," said Rosberg.

"He was also very quick today and it looks like we will have a great battle again this weekend."

Jenson Button, who is back at the scene of his title victory in 2009 and his final race win in 2012, believes McLaren will be back fighting at the sharp end of the grid next season despite their awful year.

But there was little evidence of a comeback with the Englishman only 16th while his team-mate Fernando Alonso was forced to miss most of the afternoon session after his Honda engine failed.

PA Media

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