SILVERSTONE, 6th July 2014 (F1Plus / Graham Keilloh) - In a chaotic qualifying session for the British Grand Prix, disrupted by ever-changing weather and track conditions, the plot thickened once more in the Nico Rosberg vs. Lewis Hamilton intra-Mercedes fight for the 2014 World Drivers’ Championship.
And it did so in the most dramatic fashion. Rosberg snatched pole position at the very last on an unexpectedly drying surface. While it was a very different tale for Hamilton, who had looked firmly set in pole position himself before several drivers improved their marks in that last moment. And even worse for Hamilton he didn’t improve his time himself after aborting his own last gasp run, leaving him floundering in sixth place on the grid for the race.
Moreover Rosberg – who was placed in second behind Hamilton before the late grand twist – admitted that his pole lap very nearly didn’t happen, and he only went out as he had little to lose.
‘We were sitting in the box and we just came to a general conclusion: “might as well go out and have a look at the track”. At least… because if you don’t have a look, there’s no chance but if you have a look there’s a tiny chance, so at least go out and have a look. It seemed like we should give it a go but even then I still didn’t believe that the track would be better.’
There was an unexpected benefit however: ‘What made it was the last sector’ said Rosberg.
‘because everywhere on the track was just a little bit slower, because it was just damp here and there and a little bit wet. But I knew that I had lost four seconds on the previous lap, so even if I was slower than that lap, I still had the chance of going a lot quicker in those last three corners if it was halfways dry and that’s the way it turned out: I made the time in those last corners because it a lot drier and it just worked out perfectly.’
Things were less perfect for the guy across the Mercedes garage as mentioned, and Hamilton admitted afterwards that him abandoning his final effort simply reflected an error of judgement.
‘I made a mistake today and pulled out of the lap when I should have kept going’ Hamilton said. ‘It was a tough qualifying with the changing conditions and we got through most of it really well, until the most important part. It was my decision, a bad call, and that decided my qualifying.’
Hamilton was particularly disappointed that his bad call occurred in front of his home fans, and he hoped to make up for it in tomorrow’s race.
‘I'm so sorry to have disappointed the fans here today as their support has been fantastic and I'll do what I can to have a great race for them tomorrow. I need to have a start like I had in Austria two weeks ago and then do my best to get back to the front; you never know what might happen. It's difficult when you're just out of the car to express your emotions and see the positive but I'll go back to the team and my family now and we'll build up for tomorrow from there.’
Meanwhile the bigger picture of the championship fight wasn’t lost on Rosberg, but still he refused to consider Hamilton beaten for tomorrow.
‘Yeah, of course, with regards to the championship, it’s good for me that Lewis is down in sixth. It will take him some time I think to fight through, though I expect him to come through quite quickly. And then I think very like we’ll be racing each other again. We seem to very quick here. This track really suits the car, more so than Austria, so I think it’s going to be a good battle again.’
But Nico reminded us that he’s nevertheless in the box seat: ‘Of course starting from pole is the best possible place and I’m very confident for the race.’