Date:Saturday June 23 2012
Lewis Hamilton found himself once again in the race stewards room after qualifying earlier today.
The McLaren driver was summoned to speak to the Valencia race stewards after the Mercedes team and driver Nico Rosberg criticised the 2008 Formula One World Champion for driving slowly in the final sector of the lap.
Drivers often try and create a bit of a gap on the track just before attempting a 'hot lap' and watching drivers slow down during the final few corners of the circuit before the start-finish straight is a regular scene during most qualifying sessions.
But with Valencia being a street track, the drivers were briefed about the dangers of this behaviour and it appeared that during Q3, Hamilton may have slowed down and impeded both the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and the Mercedes of Rosberg.
After qualifying Rosberg made his view known to the media, explaining to Autosport Magazine: 'there is a rule, stating very clearly that you are not allowed to slow down in those last couple of corners unnecessarily. That is the rule, it is very clear, because it is dangerous.
'In this case, me and [Pastor] Maldonado were arriving flat out, and Lewis was driving extremely slowly all of a sudden. It's just a very dangerous situation, and that's what the rule is there for.
He went on to add: 'it did ruin my lap because I started the lap stuck behind him.'
The Mercedes team backed their driver unequivocally, with Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug adding: 'he caught a car in the final sector where you are not allowed to slow down. As his times in Q2 and Q3 proved, it is clear that Nico would have had a shot at the front row of the grid without this handicap.'
While Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: 'Nico had a good balance and was looking as if he could challenge for the front row and he got caught up with Lewis.
But both Mercedes and Rosberg would have been disappointed with the outcome of the post-qualifying investigation with the race stewards failing to agree with their view of the incident after analysing the timing sectors.
The answer also didn't give Mercedes any chance of arguing their point as the FIA compared Hamilton's apparent unnecessary slow driving between turns 21 and 25 and Rosberg's own time on the same section of the track!
The official FIA statement read: 'The Stewards, having heard from both drivers and the team representatives, examined the video, audio and GPS evidence and telemetry data, decide to take no further action.'
'Reason: 1) The sector time for Car 4 was actually faster than a time set previously in that same sector by Car 8 Nico Rosberg, which is an indication that Car 4 was not being driven unnecessarily slowly between turns 21 and 25.
2) The smallest gap between Car 4 and Car 8 was 18 metres and 1.1 seconds.'
As a result of no further action being taken Hamilton will line-up alongside Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on the front row for tomorrow's European Grand Prix.
Pastor Maldonado will start third, while Nico Rosberg will start sixth.
Date:Saturday June 23 2012
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