Scoring even a point in Sunday’s German Grand Prix will be a positive for Lewis Hamilton after a qualifying crash dashed his hopes of overtaking Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg in the Formula One standings.
While Rosberg is on pole position for his home race, Hamilton will start in 15th place at best and from the pit lane at worst if a change of front brake discs incurs a penalty.
With Rosberg leading Hamilton by just four points at the halfway stage in the season, the Briton had hoped to build on the momentum of his home win at Silverstone to take back the overall lead.
Instead, a Brembo brake disc failure pitched the car into the tyre wall early in the first phase of qualifying, leaving Hamilton sore in body and spirit but still determined.
“Whenever the (start) lights go out, I’m always thinking of finishing the race first and that’s always my target but I’d have to be smoking something to think that I could really get to first,” he told reporters.
“I’ve got to now do damage limitation again, which I seem to be doing quite often. I don’t know where I’m starting, if I’m starting 16th or in the pitlane, we’ll find out.
“But even if I can get one point, hopefully that point can make a difference at the end of the year.”
Qualifying had to be halted for nine minutes after the crash, which happened within sight of the Mercedes Grandstand at the Stadium complex.
Hamilton had been second fastest when his front left wheel locked up, with a puff of smoke seen from the right side. The car spun sideways into the tyre wall on a blisteringly hot afternoon with track temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius.
“When you miss the whole session you know that’s your whole weekend gone, almost, out of the window. The win, 25 points,” said Hamilton.
“It’s very difficult initially but just as at every race, and particularly in the last race (where he also made a mistake in qualifying), you just have to suck it in, keep your head up and move forward.”
Hamilton was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks before returning to the paddock.
“I was very sore afterwards,” he said. “I’ve had quite a lot of crashes in my life and some a lot worse than others. But that one, I went in sideways and didn’t hurt my head or anything but knees and ankles and lower back. I felt it.
“Initially I guess your adrenalin’s pumping and all you can think is first “Damn, that’s me out of qualifying” and second ‘Damn, I’m in pain’. And you are trying to figure out what it is and just hoping you are OK.”
Asked whether he had any safety concerns about the brakes, Hamilton indicated he was not worried.
“I’m not really thinking about safety,” he declared. “The first crash I ever had in my life was when I was a kid, (I had a) 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 if the guys can put the car back together, which they will do, so that I can do what I do best and try and drive through the field. I’m not thinking about the brakes.
“I’ll push just as hard as ever on the brakes the first time I touch them. You have to get over it and keep moving forward.”
The crash continued a run of bad luck for the 2008 champion, who has retired from two races this season while Rosberg suffered his first blank in Britain two weeks ago. (Reuters)