Lewis Hamilton admitted it was his own fault after he abandoned his final qualifying lap at Silverstone – and saw his pole position turn into sixth place as five other drivers finished their laps and went faster.
Hamilton crossed the line to start the lap just in front of team mate Nico Rosberg, but feeling that the lap would be slower, he chose to abort it, and let his team mate through.
However the final sector proved to be much drier than anyone had anticipated, and those who completed the lap gained huge chunks of time.
“It just didn’t feel good, there’s no other reason for it,” said Lewis. “I lost a lot of time at the beginning of the lap, I was already one and a half seconds down.
“I’ve never in my life ever given up, and today it wasn’t a case of giving up, I just chose not to do the lap, because it wasn’t feeling right, it wasn’t feeling like it was going to be quicker. I had no information from the team that the last sector was going to be 4.5-5s faster. From driving through it I thought that it wasn’t, so I took that decision.”
Asked whether his engineers – who had no sector time data on which to draw – should have kept him better informed, he said: “I don’t really remember much radio communication, I do remember them saying something about Nico, not holding him up.
“It wasn’t their fault. I should have done that [carried on]. But I didn’t, that’s that, move on, move forward. A long race tomorrow, so I’ll try to salvage what I can from it.”
Hamilton expects to have a tough time gaining ground on Sunday.
“I feel tomorrow is going to be damage limitation again. We’ve got over 100,000 people here tomorrow, and hopefully they’ll energise me. I’ve got a lot of Mercedes cars ahead, which are going to be very hard to overtake, it’s not going to be as easy as it was in the last race. And also conditions could be up and down tomorrow. Anything’s possible here, as we’ve seen in the past.”
Asked by this writer if his Austrian first lap gave him some inspiration he said: “Not really. I’ve done a hundred or so Grands Prix, and that was the only one of probably three very good first laps for me. But what it did show was that it’s possible, so I’ll try and do the same again.”
However, he made it clear that Rosberg has the upper hand after Lewis lost priceless track time in FP2: “Nico had a long run yesterday so he knows where the car is for the heavy fuel load, and also he’s got a nice, clean sweep of air in front of him, so I would imagine Nico will be sailing off into the distance. I’ve got to wiggle my way through the guys in front first, and that’s really my main focus.”