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Hamilton not to blame for qualifying woe – Wolff

21 Jul 2018

What caused Lewis Hamilton’s car failure in Germany? Was it the Mercedes star’s bumpy ride at Turn 1? The team were the talk of the paddock after the world champion’s Silver Arrow came to an agonising halt in qualifying. But team chief Toto Wolff has refused to blame his driver…

Hamilton had at one point attempted to push his car back to the pit lane at the end of Q1, after his W09 broke down with a problem which was later diagnosed as a hydraulic leak. Moments before that incident, the Briton ran wide at Turn 1, with his car temporarily airborne as he re-joined the track over the run-off kerbs.

It’s the second high-profile hydraulic problem Mercedes have suffered this year, following Valtteri Bottas’ issue in Austria. While the team are yet to get to the bottom of the problem, Mercedes boss Wolff was quick to rule out driver error, revealing a power steering problem led to Hamilton's jump on the kerb.

“It's always quite difficult to define cause and consequence,” Wolff said. “What we saw is that in the previous lap, running wide but completely within the boundaries of what we can do saw a small overload.

“In the next lap, going over the kerbs, a hydraulic leak caused the power steering failure, and that power steering failure made this spectacular off over the kerbs. We're just taking it apart.

"We have seen failures in Austria, not only on our cars but on other cars. But before we've taken it apart, I can't tell you whether the high load was caused... whether it was a certain frequency that we hit, was it an angle onto the kerb. But definitely it was not Lewis' driving.

“We always seek to find our own contribution to a problem. And so from his driving, he was of the opinion 'maybe I caused the problem' and we were of the opinion 'maybe we caused the problem'.

“So I think at the moment we are unpicking how the problem has started. As far as we understand now, without having seen any detail, it was not caused by the driver.”

Hamilton, who saw his arch title rival Sebastian Vettel secure pole in front of his German support, shed further light on the events of the incident, which has given him plenty of work to do on Sunday.

“The assumption from what I’ve seen is that the bumps I experienced early on was the cause of the failure, which is not the case.

“Everyone used the exit kerb at Turn 1. The power steering failed, and when that happened the steering got extremely heavy and pulled to the left. I thought I had a tyre failure or something like that. That wasn’t the case. It was the hydraulics.

“That forced me to take that exit, and I was carrying a lot of speed so I couldn’t really slow down. I took those bumps afterwards but they didn’t do anything to the car. It would be easy to assume that would be the case but it wasn’t.”

Hamilton is set to start Sunday’s race from P14, but can take confidence from his superb recovery drive at the British Grand Prix. He currently trails the leading Vettel by eight points in the drivers’ standings.


WATCH: Hamilton pushes car after Q1 car failure

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