Hamilton on hold after rain washes out U.S. GP qualifying

Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:28pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton compared the treacherous conditions to "playing with a rattlesnake" after heavy rain washed out qualifying at the U.S. Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Briton, who was fastest in a slippery final practice session for Mercedes, will have to wait until Sunday morning to try and secure a 50th career pole before aiming to clinch his third title with three races to spare.

After five half-hour delays at the Circuit of the Americas, and the rain and wind only intensifying, organizers gave up the struggle to hold qualifying and set a new time of 0900 local (1400 GMT) on race day.

"It's a real shame for all these people here in the rain but you just can't mess with Mother Nature," Hamilton told reporters.

"It’s difficult to explain how tricky it is out there, difficult for people to understand," he said. "I’m imagining it as a rattlesnake, trying to touch a rattlesnake or seeing how close you can get your hand to it."

Race director Charlie Whiting told Reuters that if qualifying could not start by 1000 local time, then it would not happen and the times from final practice would set the starting grid.

That would be another boost for Hamilton, who will take his third world championship on Sunday if he scores nine points more than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and two more than Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

Final practice was run earlier, when the rain was less intense, without spectators being allowed in for safety reasons. When the gates finally did open at noon, the cars remained out of sight in the garages.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - United States Grand Prix 2015 - Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America - 24/10/15
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes in action during practice
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei