Niki Lauda was putting the pressure on team boss Paddy Lowe late on Saturday, as technical trouble dented Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes for the second time in the space of a week.
After Brembo brake failure pitched the Briton into the qualifying barriers at Hockenheim, just seven days later it was a fuel leak that set fire to his pole hopes in Hungary. “I think it’s getting beyond bad luck,” said Hamilton. “It’s something else.” The famously sensitive and understandably frustrated 2008 world champion was speaking to reporters immediately after stalking back to the paddock in disbelief.
But he promptly changed out of his white overalls and left the circuit before the usual engineering debriefs. “He wanted to go home, he asked if he could go and we said ‘Yeah, go home’,” boss Toto Wolff confirmed. A team spokesman clarified that Hamilton will meet with his engineers on Sunday morning to debrief qualifying and prepare for the grand prix. Wolff explained: “He did the debrief after third practice and in qualifying he did not go far. His engineers will tell him about it and maybe sit down with him again.”
The pundit for German television Sky, former driver Marc Surer, said Mercedes’ decision to let Hamilton leave the Hungaroring was right. “As a driver, when something like this happens you’re so upset. Standing around here now and answering the journalists’ stupid questions just annoys you even more. “And he can’t say anything to the engineers, because he was on fire in the first lap,” Surer added.
The real heat, according to team chairman Lauda, is now on team boss Paddy Lowe, whose main focus is the technical package of the otherwise-dominant Mercedes. “You can rely on the fact that Mercedes, above all Paddy Lowe, will investigate and understand everything,” Lauda told RTL television.
Image: Mercedes GP