Hamilton supports decision to postpone qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton supports the stewards’ decision to postpone qualifying until Sunday morning following the adverse weather conditions in Melbourne.

Rain began to fall during final practice at Albert Park, and the wet weather persisted until qualifying. Q1 was delayed by half an hour until the stewards gave it the go-ahead, and the conditions proved difficult for the drivers.

Hamilton struggled for grip on his out lap, and a few minutes later he spun at turn one forcing him to reverse his car back on to the track. Although he did manage to get into Q2, the 2008 world champion found the conditions difficult.

“It was definitely the right decision,” he told Sky Sports News. “It was dangerous out there.

The decision was taken by the stewards to run Q2 and Q3 on Sunday morning.

In a separate interview, Hamilton said “it’s incredibly tricky, probably one of the slipperiest circuits that I’ve raced on in the rain, simply because there’s a lot of white lines everywhere that are painted black. So as soon as you hit those the car slides and aquaplanes and oversteers so that’s why you saw so many people going off.”

He also suggested that Mercedes was struggling for pace despite Nico Rosberg finishing quickest in the wet first qualifying session.

“It’s not been a great weekend for us so far, but hopefully we can turn it around tomorrow.”

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.