Lewis Hamilton will start from plumb last on the grid for the race he rates more highly than any other after his Saturday qualifying accident in Monaco revealed more damage than initially feared.

The Briton had been a tip for a possible top five start on the street circuit where personal ability and courage can transcend the potential of machine, but made an error while pressing on in the first phase of qualifying and swiped the barriers at Mirabeau.

The contact, with the left rear corner, was enough to badly damage the wheel and suspension, leaving Hamilton a spectator for the remainder of the phase and, under qualifying rules governing cars that could not be returned to the pits under their own power, out of the rest of qualifying. That point was rendered moot when Hamilton's time plummeted down the order following the resulting red flag, eventually leaving the world champion in 16th spot on the grid, ahead only of the troubled BMW Saubers and Toyotas in the most unlikely bottom five of any season.

Subsequent investigations during the strip-down and rebuild process have since revealed that the McLaren's gearbox was also damaged in the impact - caused when Hamilton braked too late and locked the rear of the MP4-24 over the bumps heading into the tight right-hander - and would need to be replaced. That decision, enforced as it was, will cost the Briton five further places on the grid, a drop only limited by the fact that only four cars remained beneath him after Saturday's session.

Hamilton will go to the start weighing 645.5kg, suggesting that he is planning to pass the many heavier cars ahead of him on a multi-stop strategy rather than run long into the race.

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