Hamilton focus on damage limitation

A brake failure has given Lewis Hamilton an uphill task on Sunday (AP)

A brake failure has given Lewis Hamilton an uphill task on Sunday (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

A bruised and battered Lewis Hamilton will attempt to haul himself off the ropes at Hockenheim following a crash in qualifying that has wrecked his hopes of a German Grand Prix victory.

A right-front brake failure on approach to the Sachskurve during the opening qualifying session pitched Hamilton into a tyre barrier with a 30g impact.

Hamilton admits the sideways shunt left him "in pain", particularly with regard to his knees, ankles and lower back, but with no dent to his determination and enthusiasm.

The Briton at least set a time good enough for him to start from 15th, although as a further body blow he may yet have to start from the pit lane.

As the failure was supplier Brembo's second of the season, Mercedes are unlikely to risk running the manufacturer's discs on Hamilton's car during the race.

With the cars under parc ferme conditions, a switch to their other supplier in Carbon Industrie would result in Hamilton incurring the penalty of losing his grid slot and starting from the pit lane.

Mercedes are hopeful they can argue against the penalty on safety grounds, although it appears unlikely they will prevail.

With team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg on pole, Hamilton admits he has to embark on "damage limitation again - which I seem to be doing quite often".

Hamilton added: "Whenever the lights go out I'm always thinking of finishing the race first. That's always my target.

"But I'd have to be smoking something to think I could really get to first!

"With the pace we have, with Nico on pole and he has no-one in front of him, by the third or fourth lap he'll be several seconds up the road.

"As I'm starting last - I don't know where I'm starting, 15th or the pit lane - that means I'll probably be a good 40 seconds behind, so I'm not really thinking about the win.

"Even if I can get one point hopefully that can make a difference at the end of the year."

Despite Brembo's apparent issues, Hamilton is unconcerned, adding: "I'm not really thinking about safety.

"The first crash I ever had in my life was when I was a kid, bleeding nose, and all I cared about was whether the car was going to be fine.

"So all I'm caring about right now is whether the guys can put the car back together - which they will do - so I can do what I do best and try and drive through the field.

"I'm not thinking about the brakes. I'll just go out and push them as hard as ever the first time I touch them.

"You just have to suck it in, keep your head up, move forward because there's another day ahead with another opportunity."

For any driver the choice of brake supplier comes down to feel, which can vary from track to track.

In this instance, Hamilton opted for Brembo and even had a new set of brakes fitted ahead of final practice on Saturday morning, whereas Rosberg chose Carbon Industrie for the front only.

Whatever the circumstances, this is the latest qualifying blow to a man renowned for his speed over one lap.

In Canada, Hamilton made minor errors in the final run that allowed team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg to claim pole.

A fortnight later at the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton made mistakes on both of his fast laps in Q3, leaving him down in ninth.

And then just two weeks ago in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Hamilton made an error of judgement in changeable conditions, opting to abort his final run.

Behind him, Rosberg sped by and went on to claim pole again, leaving Hamilton angry with himself, albeit with redemption on Sunday with a victory to savour.

The best Hamilton can hope for on Sunday, should Rosberg at least avoid another retirement as occurred at Silverstone, is a place on the podium.

Williams, however, appear strong, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa lining up second and third respectively, whilst the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth will not be slouches either.

Hamilton also has two McLarens and two Ferraris ahead of him, leaving him with an uphill struggle to score strong points.

Jenson Button could only manage 11th in his McLaren, seven places behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen who equalled his best grid slot of his rookie season with fourth, whilst Marussia's Max Chilton starts 21st.

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