Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian GP from the pitlane after qualifying fire
Chassis change after W05 suffers extensive damage; Mercedes team issues apology and pledges to 'burn the midnight oil'; Nico Rosberg on pole; Race live on Sky Sports F1 from 1pm
By Pete Gill and Mike Wise in Budapest. Last Updated: 27/07/14 8:44am
Lewis Hamilton suffered yet more misery in his attempt to overhaul teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the F1 driver standing’s, when his engine caught fir
Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian GP from the pitlane after his Mercedes car suffered catastrophic damage when it caught fire at the start of qualifying.
In another blow to his faltering title prospects, Hamilton's Mercedes team have announced that, in addition to a change of gearbox and engine, Hamilton will use a new chassis for Sunday's race - triggering a pitlane start alongside McLaren's Kevin Magnussen.
World Championship leader Nico Rosberg, slower than Hamilton in all three practice sessions before qualifying, will start at the front of the grid after cruising to his third successive pole position in his team-mate's absence.
Hamilton's W05 was engulfed in flames in the opening minutes of qualifying as the Englishman failed to make it through Q1 for the second time in a week due to a mechanical failure. Mercedes have identified a fuel leak as triggering the fire but are yet to determine the cause of the leak.
“We are still stripping the car to understand the cause of the fuel leak but the symptom was a loss of high pressure fuel to the direct injection system of the internal combustion engine,” confirmed technical chief Paddy Lowe. “This fuel leak then caused a major conflagration which is likely to have written off most of the car.”
Following Magnussen’s crash into the barriers during a brief rain shower in Q3, McLaren have confirmed that the young Dane will start the race from the pitlane after the accident necessitated a change of gearbox and chassis.
And with the rear of his Mercedes shredded by the flames that burst out of the W05, similar changes – and an identical starting berth – have also befallen Hamilton.
Article 28.2 of the Sporting Regulations states: 'Any driver who decides to use another car or whose car has a change of survival cell following the qualifying practice session must start the race from the pitlane - a switch to the team's spare means a pitlane start.'
Although Hamilton charged through the field at Hockenheim on Sunday to finish on the podium after starting out on the back-row, the prospects of a repeat performance are remote this weekend given the restrictive nature of the tight and twisty Hungaroring.
"This is a track that you cannot overtake on so I think I will struggle to get in the top ten tomorrow or at least the top five," Hamilton told Sky F1.
With Hamilton suffering the bulk of the bad luck at Mercedes this term, 'leading' Nico Rosberg 4-1 in the unreliability stakes, team boss Toto Wolff also issued a terse apology to both the driver and his increasingly-suspicious supporters on Saturday night.
"We understand and share the frustrations of Lewis Hamilton's fans and completely understand they are upset about him losing out to Nico Rosberg because of a reliability issue," he said. "We want two cars to fight it out on track right up to the last race and not have the championship influenced by these issues, so we take that very seriously and we need to get on top of it.”
Hamilton currently trails championship leader Rosberg by fourteen points but is braced to lose further ground on Sunday.
“We will be burning the midnight oil to give him the best possible car,” added Wolff – perhaps not the most appropriate choice of words given the nature of Hamilton’s fiery demise in qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes on fire