A dejected Lewis Hamilton said that he “can’t afford days like this” in the fight to retain his Formula 1 World Championship, following a shock early exit in qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
Towards the end of Q1, sitting in fifth place, Hamilton ran wide at Turn 1 on a fast lap and lost all hydraulic pressure in his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport car, forcing the Brit to try and limp back to the pitlane. After numerous pleas by his race engineer Pete Bonnington to switch the car off, Hamilton gave up trying to drive back and instead opted to push the car back just shy of Turn 10.
His attempt was futile, the marshals force to park the stricken and leaking W09 on the escape road, signalling an end to Hamilton’s pole position chances.
Hamilton did not extend on the issue in his post-qualifying comments, bemoaning a “tough day”. His championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, took pole in front of his home crowd for Scuderia Ferrari as he looks to extend his eight-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
“It’s been a tough day, but these things happen in sport,” mused Hamilton.
“This is a part of racing. We had a hydraulic failure at Turn 1, then lost the power steering and I went wide. When you’re fighting for a championship that’s as close as this, you can’t afford days like this.
“You put so much preparation in, everyone works so hard, and then to go out early in qualifying is a bit of a shock.”
Hamilton explained his decision to try and get the car back to pits, in the hope that his mechanics could perform a quick diagnosis and repair and get him back on track for a heavily disrupted Q2.
“Your heart sinks and sometimes you just can’t believe things unfold the way they do,” he added. “But all you can do is suck it up.
“In that moment I was thinking just push the car back to the garage, maybe we can fix it – it’s that I will not to give up.”
Despite his positive attitude, Hamilton conceded that a repeat of his Silverstone International Circuit comeback two weeks’ ago – following a first lap collision with Kimi Räikkönen – will be difficult at the Hockenheimring.
“All I can do is put aside that negative energy and see tomorrow as another opportunity to rise. Hockenheim is a trickier [circuit] for overtaking on than Silverstone, but I’ll do everything I can.”
With seemingly no major damage to the gearbox or power unit, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from fourteenth position.