Lewis Hamilton had a rather embarrassing skirmish with the Melbourne constabulary last week when his Mercedes road car, supplied to the 2008 world champion for the week by the local dealer, was impounded for four days after he was pulled over by the boys in blue for driving in an “over exuberant manner.”
Lewis apologised for the error of his ways; “what I did was silly and I want to apologise for it.”
There were those who felt that his failure to make the top ten in qualifying was somehow linked to the fact that he felt unsettled by his experience with the law. Seems a tenuous sort of link to me, I must say. Hamilton is just starting his fourth season of F1 competition and isn’t the kind of guy to be ruffled by what was little more than an unfortunate PR hiccup. He drove pretty darned well when it came to the race, didn’t he?
At the opposite end of the grid the hapless Virgin F1 squad were doing their bit for the environment and fossil fuel conservation by revealing that their cars did not have fuel tanks of sufficient capacity to be certain of getting to the finish.
Fully fuelled up, Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi were ready to race for 48 laps. Trouble was that the Melbourne race was 58 laps. I suppose there’s no rule that says you can’t opt to run out of fuel anymore than you could turn up with a 2.0-litre V8 rather than one to the regulation 2.4-litre maximum. But it seems a strange thing to do out of choice.
The shortfall in the Virgin’s fuel capacity department was certainly not deliberate. This, let’s remember, is the car that the team’s technical director Nick Wirth, designed using computational fluid dynamics with no reference to a wind tunnel. That may have gone well enough so far, but Richard Branson’s equipe is now facing a possible £1m build to rebuild the cars around the 46-gallon fuel cell necessary to get the job done. Or at least get the car to the finish.
Red faces all round, I’m afraid.