Mercedes spin Hamilton’s story after qualifying DNF

Images of Lewis Hamilton pushing his stricken Mercedes in the final moments of Q1 during qualifying for the German Grand Prix are sure to go viral, while the world champion claims the “steering broke” which in turn led to the incident.

At first, the team suggested that Hamilton may have just been too aggressive after scrappy lap which included some serious kerb-hopping, with the W09 getting airborne before its driver reported over the radio that the car was stuck in fourth gear.

He tried to recover it despite calls from the pit wall to switch off, but then it stopped power-less and he was reluctantly forced to move the stricken car from the track after pushing it in vain for a short stretch.

Afterwards, interpretations of the incident varied between Hamilton and his boss Toto Wolff, the latter at first suggesting that their ace driver may have been too aggressive, “The issue was that we seemed to have damaged a bit of the car jumping over a kerb and that caused a hydraulic leak.”

But the four times F1 World Champion insisted, “You use the kerb the same every lap. Just before the kerb, I think the steering broke so I think that’s the issue.”

Asked if the hydraulic failure was caused by his kerb hopping, Hamilton insisted that it had “failed before then” which the team confirmed in an exonerating Tweet a couple hours after qualy:

And added a few minutes later:

As for ignoring several clear messages from his pitwall to shut down the car, Hamilton explained, “I didn’t really understand exactly what had happened. In my mind I was thinking: get the car back to the track. But they asked me to turn the car off. I jumped out and wanted to push it back but it was so far to go.”

“I saw there was leaking oil and I knew that I had to stop and let them put the car away somewhere. I have the will to not want to give up, I just want to keep pushing,” insisted Hamilton who was classified 14th but could drop to the back row if fixing the PU triggers grid penalties.

In retrospect, it would be fair to say that Hamilton was out of sorts all day, seemingly on edge and restless in the paddock before and during the wet FP3 session, in which he drove for less than ten minutes.

In qualifying, this was no vintage Hamilton performance. He struggled to find a good rhythm which in turn resulted in a wayward session on Saturday from the driver that has lined-up on pole 76 times in 218 grand prix starts, more than any driver in the history of Formula 1.

Big Question: Did the car break because Lewis was too aggressive or was it merely a coincidence that it broke milliseconds before he went airborne over the kerbs?