Lewis Hamilton has promised to bounce back from his qualifying mistake by winning Sunday’s German Grand Prix to remain in charge of the Formula One World Championship.
Hamilton has won five of the last six grands prix to overturn a 43-point deficit to his title rival Nico Rosberg.
But the defending champion, now six points ahead of Rosberg, will start Sunday’s race from second on the grid after a crucial error in qualifying paved the way for his Mercedes team-mate to claim pole position.
“I’m not down as I have got a race to win,” said Hamilton. “When any of you guys are p***** off with your own performance you are not happy, so it is not an emotional game.
“I brought it to qualifying, I was quickest at the end, and I didn’t deliver so that is something I have to handle and deal with. There is nothing I can do about the past, I am moving forward, and tomorrow I can make a difference, so I will.”
Hamilton, despite being slower than Rosberg in all three practice sessions here in Hockenheim, appeared likely to snatch pole away from his team-mate. But the British driver made a small mistake at the hairpin on his final timed run.
A naturally disappointed Hamilton added: “My mechanics are hoping to get pole. I have got my engineers here who work until 2am every night, so it is a lot of weight when you don’t deliver in the way they have delivered.”
Rosberg will start ahead of Hamilton for a second consecutive weekend, but while the Briton beat his team-mate on the run down to turn one in Hungary last Sunday, a shorter start here, ensures a repeat scenario is rather less likely.
Indeed, should Hamilton want to win, it is probable that he will have to overtake Rosberg at a later stage in the race with the odds of a collision between the pair becoming ever greater.
Formula One is back in Germany – a home race for Mercedes – following a one-year break, but Hamilton will not change his approach even though another crash would provoke huge embarrassment for the sport’s all-conquering team.
“We are paid to do a job,” Hamilton added. “I am going to drive just as I always have in my life. Me, Nico and the team have discussed and learnt from the things in the past so I don’t see tomorrow being an issue for either of us.”
Rosberg was forced to abandon his first timed run in the all-important last phase of qualifying with a minor electronic glitch. He returned to the track to steal pole in front of his home fans.
“It was one of the best-ever laps, especially considering the circumstances,” Rosberg said. “It was very satisfying.”
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen locked out the second row for Red Bull while Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will start fifth and sixth for Ferrari.
Jenson Button, given the all-clear to race after he was taken to hospital with an eye complaint on Friday night, will line up in 12th on the grid, while his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso could manage only 14th. It is a display which is not likely to have pleased the team’s chairman Ron Dennis who arrived in the paddock on Saturday.