In the first practice session of the Brazilian Grand Prix, world champion Lewis Hamilton almost saw himself knocked off the track.
Nico Hulkenberg – who was in the middle of his flying lap – hesitated to find Hamilton in front of him.
Rather than be stuck behind Hamilton and ruin his time, he drew wheel to wheel with the recently crowned champion.
They took the bend together, Hulkenberg squeezing up the nearside, forcing Hamilton onto the grass.
He identified Hulkenberg immediately on the team radio.
“That was very dangerous,” Hamilton remarked, level headed as usual.
It’s not the first time Hulkenberg has been embroiled in a practice lap spat with Hamilton.
The situation was a repeat of the incident at the Bahrain Grand Prix, only on that occasion, Hulkenberg had been the slower driver and it was Hamilton’s flying lap.
Hulkenberg had been on the racing line, only going much slower. Hamilton, unable to tell the speed at which Hulkenberg was moving, cut a frustrated figure, bemoaning his competitor’s ability.
Hulkenberg was not penalised for his infringement on that day, but it caused Hamilton to utter a similar response.
“These drivers are dangerous.”
Hamilton’s annoyance at being forced off the track will be alleviated by the fourth F1 world champion victory still fresh in his mind.
Nevertheless, Hamilton returned to the track and delivered the fastest lap. His frustration led to him also breaking the track record set by Rubens Barichello in 2004.
With Hamilton in such fine form, it may be that the only way to stop him is through such rugged manoeuvres as Hulkenberg attempted at the Juncao left hander.
Him and Mercedes dominated the first practice, with Valtteri Bottas posting the second fastest time.
Mercedes will hope to make that number one for both the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the Drivers' Championship.
With Hamilton already victorious, the race for second place heats up between Bottas and Vettel.
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