Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s German Grand Prix from the pit lane, should his Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team elect to switch his car to a new brake supplier for Sunday’s 67-lap race at the Hockenheim circuit.
The Englishman had a high-speed accident under braking at the Sachskurve during Saturday’s opening qualifying session, with the cause later being attributed to a failure of the right front brake disc. Hamilton slide at some speed into the tyre wall at the end of the corner’s gravel trap and took no further part in the session.
The incident marked the third qualifying misadventure on the trot for Hamilton, following a poor strategic call last time out at Silverstone and a spin in the final stages of Q3 at Austria.
Teammate Nico Rosberg went on to take back-to-back pole positions, while the latest misfortune saw Hamilton languishing in sixteenth and at risk of having the 4-point deficit to Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship standings blow out.
“Nico has basically got another gift, but we’ll do what we can tomorrow,” a frustrated Hamilton said afterwards.
“It just takes you by complete surprise. It happens so quickly. When you’re driving, you have to have 100% confidence in the car and you never ever enter a corner thinking something is going to happen, so you hit the brake pedal and it’s a real shock.
“I can’t believe it obviously, but things like this happen and are sent to try us. We had done such a great job with the set-up, it felt fantastic out there and I didn’t even get to do five laps,” he lamented.
He was set to move up one grid slot on account of an eight-place grid penalty to Sauber’s Esteban Gutiérrez, but that could become a pit lane getaway under the regulations if – as is rumoured – he changes brake material from one produced by Brembo to Carbon Industrie.
Mercedes will try to circumvent the grid penalty by arguing that the change is necessary on safety grounds, but that will require sign-off from the stewards in order to avoid a pit lane start.
Another concern for Mercedes will be the viability of Hamilton’s gearbox, which may have copped some damage in the accident. Should the unit need to be changed – and assuming Hamilton is able to start from the grid – he would incur a five-place grid penalty.
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