2014 British GP Qualifying: Nico Rosberg on pole after Lewis Hamilton aborts final lap
Hamilton falls from first to sixth in final minute; Crazy session produces shock for Silverstone crowd; Two Germans on the front-row; Ferrari and Williams start at the back after Q1 elimination; Marussia celebrate best-ever qualifying result with Jules Bianchi 12th;
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 06/07/14 7:56am
Nico Rosberg snatched pole position for the British GP after a terrible miscalculation by Lewis Hamilton in the final throes of a remarkable rain-hit qualifying hour.
Hamilton, on provisional pole after the first runs of the top-ten shoot-out, abandoned his final lap after being advised by his Mercedes team to pit if he didn't believe he could improve his time.
Had Hamilton opted to complete his lap then Rosberg, running in the dirty air directly behind the sister W05, may have struggled to improve his earlier lap time and almost certainly wouldn't have been able to claim pole.
Instead, breaking the cardinal sporting sin of not playing to the whistle, Hamilton returned to the pits after completing just two-thirds of his lap, with the grievous consequences of his error becoming almost instantly apparent to a stunned Silverstone crowd as he tumbled down the timesheets.
With conditions at their optimum through the final sector of the track, a host of drivers, led by the freed-up Rosberg, jumped ahead of the Englishman as the circuit finally dried out, demoting Hamilton down to a distant sixth and inflicting yet another hefty dent into his faltering World Championship ambitions. And on this occasion, he had nobody to blame but himself.
"It was my mistake," a deflated Hamilton admitted to Sky Sports F1. "Nothing the team said had any impact on my decision to pit. I've had great support here from the fans and I apologise to them."
Hamilton hasn't started a race on pole since the Spanish GP in early May, with costly on-track mistakes in both Canada and Austria preceding his strategic error this weekend. Already 29 points behind Rosberg, his title hopes are now resting on fragile foundations.
"I was stuck right up behind Lewis. Luckily he didn't finish his lap but I remembered that we were losing three or four seconds in the last corners when it was very wet so there was an opportunity to make a real improvement and that I should keep going," explained Rosberg.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel will start from second for Red Bull after gaining over three seconds on Hamilton during the final sector, just ahead of Jenson Button as the McLaren driver targets his first-ever podium finish at his home race. But with two Germans on the front-row, there was little cause for any Union Jack waving on Saturday night. Indeed, with Nico Hulkenberg starting out from fourth for Force India, it is by no means implausible that all of the podium places after Sunday's race will be taken by German drivers.
"Lewis has misread it and given the high ground to Rosberg. Yes, he can have a brilliant start like he did in Austria, and quite clearly he is in the fastest car on the race-track so all is not lost, but he’s given himself an uphill task again. And then it’s all about who gets the first call on the pit-stops during the race and Rosberg holds all those ace cards"
Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle
"With regards to the championship, it's good for me that Lewis is down in sixth," noted a jubilant Rosberg. "It will take him some time, I think, to come through, but I do expect him to come through quite quickly and very likely we will be fighting again."
For Williams, Saturday also represented the ultimate tale of heroes to zeroes, with both of the team’s cars eliminated at the conclusion of a topsy-turvy Q1 just two weeks after the Grove outfit claimed a one-two in qualifying at Austria. F1 is a fickle business, particularly at the height of the British summer as persistent rain played havoc with the teams and their strategists.
At least Williams will enjoy some illustrious company at the back of the grid, with both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen also falling foul of the bad weather in the latest low moment for a Ferrari team stuck in the doldrums. “Bad timing from our part, it happens,” said the Finn forlornly.
But it was Hamilton who cut the forlonest figure on Saturday night as he was left to reflect on his mistake and the damage it has inflicted. Starting in the 'danger zone' on the grid for Sunday's race, worse may yet be to come.
Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Our extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend continues on race day from 11.30am on Sunday.