Hungry Hamilton charges from the pit lane to the podium

9 Comments

After qualifying yesterday, Lewis Hamilton was staring down the barrel of a sizeable deficit to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship. A fuel leak had caused a fire on his car during qualifying, meaning that he had to start the race from the pit lane.

However, through the rain, two safety car periods and a spin on the first lap of the race, the Briton stormed through to finish on the podium and – crucially – ahead of Rosberg, who came home in fourth.

Mercedes opted to split its drivers’ strategies, with Rosberg pitting one extra time but using the quicker tire for both stints. Despite making two requests for Hamilton to allow the German driver past, the Briton did not yield. Ultimately, it played a huge part in securing him a podium finish, as he cut the gap to Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ standings to eleven points.

“A big thank you to the team, great job in the pit stops and with the strategy,” Hamilton said. “I just tried my best, the car’s been fantastic when it’s going. Obviously a lot points lost, because we could have had a much better weekend, but we’ve got a lot of strengths to look forward to anyway.”

Hamilton spun off on the first lap of the race with cold brakes after starting in the pit lane, but he was pleased to reduce the gap to Rosberg.

“To be honest, at the beginning, obviously a mistake myself with the brakes were very, very cold, and locked up, and I was gone,” he explained. “Fortunately I got going again, thank the Lord I didn’t damage the car, and damage limitation again.”

However, he does not think that it is one of his best ever drives in Formula 1, even if the F1 paddock suggests otherwise.

The sport now takes a four week break before the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August, with the teams set to enjoy two weeks off during this period.

Penske: No room for Patrick in Indy 500 lineup. Ganassi? OK

Getty Images
Leave a comment

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) Roger Penske has no room in his Indianapolis 500 lineup for Danica Patrick.

“The Captain” has a hunch where Patrick’s Indy comeback will take her in May – with Chip Ganassi.

“I sent him a note and said, `Congratulations. Danica better be driving your car at Indy because unfortunately she’s not driving for us,”‘ Penske said, laughing.

The 35-year-old Patrick said this week she will race only in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 next year and then she will walk away from racing. Patrick is the only woman to have led laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. Patrick ran the Indy 500 from 2005 through 2011. Her highest finish was third in 2009, and she was the first woman to lead laps in the race when she paced the field for 19 trips around the Brickyard as a rookie.

Penske has a full field for Indy with Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and 2017 series champion Josef Newgarden racing as fulltime entries and three-time winner Helio Castroneves returns on a one-shot deal to try and win a fourth.

Chip Ganassi Racing is the likely ride at Indy. Ganassi has room to field additional cars – he’s scaling down from four full-time cars to two next year – and would give Patrick a car capable of winning. Ganassi said Friday he has met with Patrick and called her “Danica Double” a great idea.

Penske said Patrick and Ganassi, who has Ed Jones and IndyCar great Scott Dixon in his lineup, would be a perfect pair.

“I think that’s a great seat for her,” Penske said Saturday. “That’s a great team. They’re the ones that’s always been competitive there. I take my hat off that she wants to continue to go back to open wheel. That’s going to be terrific for the sport and there’s going to be a lot of interest around the country.”

Patrick was highly marketable early in her career even though wins were rare. She won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2013, but finished 24th in the standings the last two seasons. She won her only IndyCar race in 2008, in Japan. Patrick never scored a top-five finish in NASCAR and had only seven top 10s (though she led laps at the Daytona 500) in 189 career starts.

Penske, a 16-time winner as a car owner of the Indy 500, said Patrick would return to IndyCar a better driver.

“I think she’s going to come back to IndyCar a lot tougher having run in NASCAR,” he said. “I think she’s going to be someone that, in a good car, is going to pick it up. She’s got plenty of time to practice.”

Team Penske won the owner championship Saturday in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. Sam Hornish Jr., who won three IndyCar titles and the 2006 Indy 500, said the sport would welcome back Patrick.

“She’s probably going to have a better shot at Indy because of what she’s done the last five years,” Hornish said.

Patrick has not revealed the team she’ll race for but surely a package deal with the same team and same sponsor for the biggest races in motorsports would make her again racing’s most marketable driver.

“I think it’s a great way for her to say, hey, I’m here, I’ve done it, I’m going to go back to the two biggest races and see if I can’t get out on top,” Penske said.

Penske can win a NASCAR championship with Brad Keselowski in Sunday’s Cup race.

—-

More AP Auto Racing: http://racing.ap.org