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Hungar GP: Hamilton's hopes up in smoke

2014-07-26 15:05

HUNGARIAN GP HOPES DASHED: Hamilton’s hopes of securing a fifth Hungarian GP were dashed when his car suffered a fuel leak during qualifying. Image: AP / Darko Vojinovic

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Lewis Hamilton's hopes of regaining ground in the 2014 Formula 1 Drivers' championship went up in smoke on Saturday (July 26) when his Mercedes burst into flames in the opening minutes of qualifying.

Team boss Niki Lauda lamented Hamilton's run of 'unfair' bad luck which greatly hinders his chances in Sunday's race.

The fire, at the rear of his car, ruled him out of contention for pole position without clocking a time. It was his fourth car problem of the season compared to just one to have affected his team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.


Lauda said: "It looks like a fuel leak but we have go to get it back and see. The fuel pressure went down and there was a fire. It is completely unfair on Lewis and especially as he was fastest all weekend and would have won the race.

"It is very difficult to pass here. He was fastest and would have been fastest again."

Hamilton said: "I don't know what I can do tomorrow - it's a track on which you can't really overtake. Its's going to be a struggle to make the top 10 or at best top five.

"I'll leave here more than 20 points behind Nico but there's still races to go. I will try my best."

He added: "I had bailed out on that lap and wanted to try on my second for a time. Something happened - something failed in the brakes and then the engine died. I thought I could roll to the pits lane entry but then I saw in my mirrors that I was on fire so I just tried to roll to the garage.

"The engine was not working. It's all pretty bad..."


He parked the car at the pits entry in front of a group of marshals who put the fire out as Hamilton walked dejectedly with his head down towards the team garage.

The fire came seven days after Hamilton was the victim of a high-speed brake failure at the German GP and wrecked his hope of claiming his first pole position in seven races at one of his most favourite circuits.

It was the second car to catch fire during the 2014 Hungarian GP weekend. Fellow Briton Max Chilton of Marussia was hit by a similar blaze during practice on Friday.

Hamilton is 14 points behind Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg in the title race and Saturday's set-back handed his rival a potential gift of pole position for the third time in four races.

The 29-year-old Englishman made an error of judgement and pitted in the final minutes of qualitying at the British GP and had a high-speed crash at Hockenheim the previous weekend.

Hamilton was not the first driver to be eliminated on Saturday. Lotus' Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado had already pulled up without a clocked time in the first minute.

"I've got fire guys," Hamilton told his team by radio. "Go to the marshals," they replied. "The car wont stop," Hamilton responded. His team told him:  "Jump out! Jump out!"

Hamilton was unhurt. The team issued a brief comment on Twitter: "We are analysing the data to understand what happened with @LewisHamilton's car and why."

2014 Hungarian GP practice results:
First practice
Second practice
Third practice

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