Lewis Hamilton ready to atone for mistake
Friday 28 October 2011
Lewis Hamilton is ready to make up for the mistake he knows has put himself and McLaren "on the back foot" for this weekend's Indian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, along with Sauber's Sergio Perez, was given a three-place grid penalty following today's first practice session at the Buddh International Circuit as the long arm of the stewards again hit the 26-year-old hard.
The McLaren star, however, had no complaints as he willingly took full responsibility for ignoring double waved yellow flags at a time when Pastor Maldonado's Williams was being recovered following a spin.
Hamilton should have slowed considerably, but instead went on to post the fastest lap of the 90-minute morning run as Formula One roared into life for the first time on the sub-continent.
His initial reaction to the penalty was a stern "same old same old" comment given it was the umpteenth time he has seen the stewards this year, and his sixth penalty overall.
But as the inquisition continued, so Hamilton mellowed, remarkably admitting that when he went in to see the stewards "I put my hands up".
He added: "I said 'I accept whatever penalty I get'. That's what I said, and they gave me one.
"I'm a bit frustrated with myself. It's my fault - as usual. So I just have to do whatever I can from wherever I qualify tomorrow."
Although again self-critical, Hamilton was unrelenting as he said: "Well, I've no-one else to blame. There's only me driving."
The question now boils down to where he will qualify, and with the penalty, whether he has a shot at victory given both Red Bull and Ferrari look strong.
Acknowledging the potential difficulty of the situation, he said: "It's not good for the weekend.
"It doesn't look like we're the quickest at the moment so wherever we qualify, three places further back from there is going to make it tough for us.
"But it's not impossible, the race is very long, there are two DRS (drag reduction system) zones, so overtaking is possible.
"We will have to wait and see tomorrow just how quick we are, but I know we're already on the back foot, I've already put the team on the back foot with that penalty."
Immediately reflecting on his indiscretions throughout a troubled year, he quickly added: "I would love to see how many penalties I've had throughout the year."
When informed it was six, he softened, smiling as he said: "Is that all? It feels like a lot more than that."
Remarkably, it was Ferrari's Felipe Massa who finished out in front ahead of double world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Massa, with his car sporting a new front wing as the team look to build for next season, set a lap of one minute 25.706secs, just 0.088secs ahead of Vettel.
Team-mate Fernando Alonso, who managed only four laps in the first session due to an engine issue, was third and a quarter of a second down, with Hamilton 0.748secs adrift.
Red Bull's Mark Webber and Jenson Button in his McLaren were fifth and sixth, the latter a second off the pace.
The day began with two mongrel dogs straying onto the circuit, the first 10 minutes prior to the start of the initial session, with marshals catching up with it down the pit straight.
The second was a more dangerous incident, coming five minutes after the session had started and as a handful of cars were completing their installation laps, bringing out the red flag.
Thankfully there was no repeat of an incident three years ago in a GP2 race in Turkey when Bruno Senna ran over a dog that had found its way onto the Istanbul track, killing it instantly.
As a dusty, slippery circuit at first gathered grip, and as drivers pushed, there were a number of incidents.
In particular, it proved to be a bitterly frustrating day for Maldonado who spun a second time early in the second session, the Venezuelan beaching his car in the gravel.
The biggest shunt of the day involved Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio, who brought out the red flags for a second time, with the Belgian hardly helping his cause of acquiring a new contract by slamming into a barrier that removed the rear wing and right-rear wheel.
Flying the flag for the home nation, Paul di Resta was ninth for Force India, finishing half a second down on team-mate Adrian Sutil.
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