Reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton criticised his McLaren-Mercedes team in the wake of the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring for not having let him retire his car and save his engine and gearbox when he fell almost a lap down at the start – suggesting the exercise of carrying on to the end was a 'waste of time'.
Having qualified a superb fifth – matching his season best from Bahrain back in April – Hamilton made a lightning, KERS-aided getaway when the lights went out to vault past second row starters Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel and audaciously pull right alongside Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello on the outside line on the run down to turn one for the first time.
In struggling to slow down sufficiently, however, the British star clipped the front wing of the Red Bull Racing with his rear tyre and went straight on, leaving him with a puncture and a damaged car – and having to complete the remaining 59 laps with a heavy fuel load and little hope of achieving anything worthwhile. A lapped 18th and last at the chequered flag – after lapping two seconds off the leading pace throughout – he would have been better, he claimed, parking his car in the garage.
“My race was effectively over at turn one,” lamented the 24-year-old. “I had an okay start and quite a good launch down to turn one, and then I was braking and all-of-a-sudden I felt a tap from the rear and I went straight on. That left me with a flat tyre and damaged the rear floor, and after that I was out there just really driving on ice.
“There was nothing I could do; I was pushing and pushing, but it was a waste of time – I was down by 70 or 80 seconds. I suggested to the team that we save the engine and gearbox for hopefully a better race in the future – because there's a lot more potential ahead of us than we'd anticipated before this weekend – and we just used it all.”
Nonetheless, the Stevenage-born ace was enthusiastic about the aerodynamic improvements brought to the hitherto underperforming MP4-24 for the weekend – and he hinted that a return to the rostrum, and the top step at that, may no longer be that far away...
“The team have done a fantastic job over the last few weeks,” underlined the nine-time grand prix-winner. “Literally I had a damaged car – the rear floor was destroyed on the right side, so it wasn't really working correctly and I wasn't able to experience the updates I had. At least we were competitive this weekend, though, we'll move on and I'm already looking forward to the next race.
“The best thing about this weekend was that our updates were successful. It's put us on the right road because, before, we were almost up to a dead end. With more updates coming, I hope within the next three or four races we [will be] competing for wins. I honestly think we can do that.”
Having produced a stellar qualifying effort to line up alongside his team-mate on row three of the grid despite not benefitting from the same full package of upgrades, Heikki Kovalainen made a similarly strong start and ran third throughout the opening stint of the grand prix, ably fending off a visibly faster train of cars behind him comprised of Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen amongst others.