• Hungarian GP - Qualifying

Hamilton doubts top ten finish after Q1 fire

ESPN Staff
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Lewis Hamilton thinks he might be hard pressed to even make the points in Hungary after a fire caused by a fuel leak in his Mercedes forced him out of Q1 without setting a time.

With a fight between the two Mercedes drivers on the cards after a close FP3 Hamilton's bad luck returned in the opening moments of qualifying as he returned to the pits with fire coming out of the back of his car. Hamilton was unable to get back to the Mercedes garage and now faces the prospect of starting from the pit lane tomorrow, something he says will be a huge challenge on a track notorious for limited overtaking opportunities.

"I honestly don't know what I can do tomorrow," Hamilton said. "This is a track where you can't really overtake on. I think I will struggle to get into the top ten tomorrow, at least the top five. I'll probably leave here more than 20 points behind Nico. There's still races to go but I don't know what else to say."

It is the second successive incident to hit Hamilton in the early stages of qualifying after his brake failure in Hockenheim. While returning to the pits Hamilton told Mercedes was unable to bring his car to a stop initially, and he says he was determined to give himself a chance by getting it back to the garage.

"I had bailed out of that timed lap I was doing, and thought 'I'm going to try and do it on the second lap' and something on the brake system failed. I had to engage some settings to try and correct it, then the engine died. I was right next to the pit entry so I thought I'll roll back to the pits and get them to fix it but then I looked in my mirror and I was on fire. I was hoping to get it into neutral and maybe push it back or something, but no luck."

"It was on fire but I was still trying to get it back to the garage. I thought if I could roll back to the garage they could do something and then they said 'stop, stop, stop' and I tried but the brakes weren't working. The car just keeps rolling forward, the engine is something working and not working, it's all really bad."

Hamilton later tweeted his belief that the team needs to work harder after his recent string of mechanical issues.

Mercedes confirmed the fire had been caused by a fuel leak at the end of the session. It is not yet clear how much the damage will affect his race tomorrow.

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