• German GP

Hamilton takes gearbox change, aims for 'damage limitation'

ESPN Staff
July 20, 2014 « Lotus confirms Maldonado for 2015 | Rosberg feared late safety car »
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Lewis Hamilton is hoping to limit the damage to his championship chances at the German Grand Prix after admitting he would "have to be smoking something" to think he stood a chance of winning Sunday's race.

Hamilton crashed out of qualifying when his front-right brake failed on the entry to the Sachs hairpin, giving team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg a clear shot at pole position. He qualified 15th as a result but a gearbox change means he has been demoted to 20th on the grid. However, a change from Brembo brakes to Carbon Industire has been allowed by the FIA without the penalty of starting from the pit lane.

Hamilton said he now had to focus on getting the most out of the race, with Rosberg starting on pole position and likely to take an easy lead.

"Whenever the lights go out I'm always thinking of finishing the race first, that's always my target, but I'd have to be smoking something to think I could really get to first when Nico's [at the front]," he said. "If you look at the last race and the pace we have, Nico's on pole position and has no-one in front of him. For sure, by the third or fourth lap he will be several seconds up the road, and because I'm starting last I'll be a good 30 or 40 seconds behind.

"I'm not thinking about that, I'm thinking that I've got to do damage limitation again, which I seem to be doing quite often. Even if I can only get one point, hopefully that point will make a difference at the end of the year."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his drivers would rather a straight fight, but is confident the team can keep Hamilton's head from dropping.

"Lewis has very high ups and quite low downs and we hope that we can break that pattern soon and he can have a better run," Wolff said. "Nico would like to have Lewis as his main competitor and have them fight it out fair and square on the track."

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