Lewis Hamilton will start on the front row of the grid for the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix after the stewards cleared him of any wrongdoing for a start procedure infringement.
Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu were all under investigation after the Spinrt Race but escaped a grid penalty.
Ricciardo will start from 11th place at Interlagos on Sunday, with Zhou in 13th.
“The stewards reviewed the start sequence, as it was observed that multiple cars were potentially out of their grid box in violation of Article 8.6.1.a) of the FIA International Sporting Code, being either to the left or right of the grid box,” read a statement from the FIA.
“Having reviewed all available angles of video, and making measurements on the grid, the stewards noted that the grid boxes were slightly smaller than usual and that the drivers’ visibility makes compliance extremely difficult and that no driver was in a position that gained any advantage. The stewards are therefore satisfied to take no further action.”
Prior to the announcement, Mercedes engineering director Andrew Shovlin told Sky Sports: “It may be linked to positioning in the box.
“But we have got the onboard and it looks like we’re very conservative in where we positioned the car in terms of the line.
“It might have been a sensor issue, I don’t know, but from the image we’ve seen, there doesn’t look to be any hint that we were outside the box.”
Mercedes’ best chance of victory
Mercedes have locked out the front row of the grid for the first time in 2022 as they look to end their winless run which stretches back to December last year.
Hamilton is hoping to maintain his streak of winning a race in every Formula 1 season he’s competed in since making his debut in 2007.
Meanwhile, pole sitter George Russell has an opportunity to win his maiden Grand Prix.
“This is an amazing result, for us to be on the front row tomorrow is incredible so from there we should be able to work as a team and hold off the guys behind,” said Hamilton.
“We are going to try as hard as we can. If we can have some good degradation tomorrow, hopefully some good weather we can have a good fight on our hands. A win here for Brazil would be incredible.”
Can Mercedes fight off Verstappen?
It is set to be two Mercedes v two Red Bulls, bringing back memories of 2021 when both teams went head-to-head.
Red Bull opted to start Max Verstappen on the medium tyre for the Sprint Race, which was a mistake in hindsight, but have two brand-new set of soft tyres compared to one new set and one old set of softs for Hamilton and Russell.
But, if Verstappen doesn’t have the right setup, which could be the case, he may still struggle for pace on Sunday which would give Mercedes the perfect opportunity to stand on the top step of the podium.
“They [Mercedes] look unbeatable,” said Verstappen. “But I will analyse everything, and would have finished fourth anyway even with a complete front wing.
“It can’t get any worse than this and it is frustrating to make slight contact with Carlos. It was tiny but it broke my end plate and a little bit of the structure that [broke off.]
“[The race] was a bit more difficult than we expected – and I didn’t expect to have that much degredation.
“Even on the soft tyres, we wouldn’t have been fast enough so we were clearly struggling on keeping the tyres alive so it is something we need to try and fix for tomorrow.”