Hamilton apologizes to Mercedes for F1 pit lane penalty in Bahrain

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Lewis Hamilton has apologized to his Mercedes Formula 1 team after his hopes of winning Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix were dashed by a five-second time penalty for going too slowly in the pit lane.

Following a safety car period sparked by a crash between Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz Jr., Mercedes opted to pit drivers Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton on the same lap, stacking them in the pit lane.

In order to avoid losing time behind Bottas, Hamilton slowed his pace down before entering the pit lane to create a gap, backing up Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

While this was perfectly legal behind the safety car with no overtaking allowed on the live circuit, Hamilton was not allowed to do it after entering the pit lane, but continued to slow, resulting in a five-second time penalty.

The sanction prompted Mercedes to revise Hamilton’s tire strategy, bringing him in much later than planned for a second stop, and while the Briton was able to charge back to second after taking his penalty, he ultimately fell 6.6 seconds short of Vettel at the checkered flag.

“Obviously a very difficult race. It didn’t start out the best, but the pit lane was really my fault and so apologies to the team for losing the time there,” Hamilton said after the race.

“I tried my hardest to catch up but it was a long old way to go. It was 19 seconds. But I gave it everything I could. Ferrari did a great job today, so we’re going to push hard together, re-gather as a team and come back fighting.”

By finishing second to Vettel, Hamilton slips seven points behind his erstwhile rival in the drivers’ championship, and admitted he was disappointed to have cost Mercedes a chance at winning.

“Of course the disappointment is there. As I said, losing points for the team, particularly when you could have potentially won the race is painful,” Hamilton said.

“But it is what it is. All I can say is that I gave it everything I could.”

Hamilton will aim to regroup at the Russian Grand Prix, which takes place on March 30 in Sochi.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.