Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Austrian GP: Lewis Hamilton 'deserved' three-place grid penalty in qualifying

Second quickest in qualifying, Briton demoted for having impeded Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo during session

Lewis Hamilton in action during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on Saturday. Bryn Lennon / Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton in action during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on Saturday. Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton conceded he deserved the three-place grid penalty given to him by race stewards which means he will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix from fifth on the grid.

The Briton, who was second quickest in Saturday’s qualifying at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, was demoted after being found to have impeded Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo during the session.

The five-time world champion was penalised two hours after qualifying had been completed, but he wrote on Instagram that he had no issue with the penalty.

“Totally deserved the penalty today and no problem accepting it,” wrote the Mercedes-GP driver, who leads the 2019 drivers’ championship by 36 points ahead of the race, which begins at 5.10pm UAE time.

“Was a mistake on my behalf and I take full responsibility for it. It wasn’t intentional. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and an opportunity to rise.”

Hamilton will start behind Leclerc, teammate Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing car, and the McLaren of Lando Norris on the grid.

It is the second pole of Leclerc’s career and he is determined to win for the first time in F1 today.

The 21-year-old Monegasque had started from pole in Bahrain in March and had been on target to win before an engine problem dropped him to third in the closing stages.

"I'm very happy to bring pole position back home, but tomorrow we'll finish the job,” he said.

Hamilton, speaking before his penalty had been confirmed, believed that he and Mercedes had been caught by surprise at the pace of Ferrari.

The German marque have often had the edge this season, winning all eight races in 2019 so far, but Leclerc had been fastest in final practice and then had proven too quick for his rivals in qualifying.

“We definitely underestimated how fast they would be I would say,” said Hamilton.

“On the straights they really kill us, they have got that extra bit of power that works really well here.

“I guess they have managed to figure out how to get the car to work around the medium and high-speed corners.”

It was Ferrari’s first pole in Austria since Michael Schumacher topped the timesheets in 2003.

It was a bittersweet success for the Italian team with Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel failing to make it out of the pits in the final phase of qualifying.

The German sat stranded in the garage, mechanics working furiously on the engine after discovering a problem with the air pressure line feeding the power unit.

Vettel will start ninth thanks to Kevin Magnussen, who qualified fifth for Haas but has a five-place grid drop for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Updated: June 29, 2019 11:09 PM

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