HOCKENHEIM, 19th July 2014 (F1Plus / Graham Keilloh) - Lewis Hamilton may start the German Grand Prix from the pitlane if Mercedes to switch his brake supplier following a brake disc failure in Q1.
Hamilton had more wretched luck during qualifying in Hockenheim when a brake disc failure sent him into the barriers in the first session, consigning him to P16 in the starting grid order. This then became P15 thanks to a grid penalty for Esteban Gutierrez.
After qualifying it was not clear if that would be the end of it for Hamilton as the possibility arose that he may have to start from the back of the grid or from the pit lane as Mercedes considering switching his brake supplier.
He and his team mate Nico Rosberg today used different brake materials – Rosberg using Carbone Industrie and Hamilton those from Brembo – and Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff confirmed that on safety grounds Hamilton would highly likely be switched to Carbone Industrie brakes for tomorrow’s race.
“I don’t think that we’ll be running the same brake material tomorrow (for Hamilton) as there is no way you can analyse what happened and how to prevent that in the future within 12 hours, so the latest information is we will switch the brake material.”
While it was assumed that such a change would result in Hamilton starting from the pit lane, Wolff said that wasn’t clear given it is a safety issue and that discussions were ongoing.
“I’m not sure this is totally clarified” said Wolff on that matter.
“Because we have had a brake failure which means we are obliged to make sure that the car is running safe tomorrow, what that could mean is switching the brake supplier, so whether this results in starting from the pit lane is not yet discussed and we haven’t got yet a decision on that…we’re discussing that with the FIA.”
Hamilton may have been resigned to his fate of sinking back yet further however.
“As I’m starting last” he said before later correcting himself. “I don’t know where I’m starting from – starting 16th or starting in the pit lane. We’ll find out.”
Wolff and the two Mercedes drivers confirmed too that the two pilots often switch between brake materials, and their selection tends to be based both on circuit characteristics and driver preference.
Wolff said: “It’s a matter of what suits your driving style more, and both of them have been trying both brake materials almost every weekend.”
Rosberg added: “Every other weekend I’m trying different things (on the brakes) and we try to do back-to-backs whenever possible on various things, not necessarily completely different materials there’s many things you can do,
"and I always go with what I feel most comfortable with and we did that as well here this weekend and I felt most comfortable with what I have on the car now.”
Hamilton concurred: “From circuit to circuit whether the track’s really grippy or not you can choose a brake that doesn’t bite as much at the beginning but has more bite later on, or has less fade, all those different things…I’ve been through all the different brakes I think."
Wolff also confirmed that there was no particular risk in advance of running the Brembo brakes rather than Carbone Industrie.
“No, actually the opposite” he said, “Brembo had a failure early in the year and they’ve upgraded the discs to what supposedly is the safest disc, they put a lot of research into the carbon disc so there was no gamble whatsoever.”
Hamilton admitted too that, while he always aims for the win, tomorrow it may be out of reach.
“Whenever the lights go out I’m always thinking of finishing the race first, but I’d have to be smoking something to think I could really get first from Nico…by the third or fourth lap he’ll be several seconds up the road.”