Hamilton faces pit lane race start
19 July 2014 – Lewis Hamilton could be forced to start the German Grand Prix from the pit lane, with Mercedes planning to change the brake material on his car after his accident during Saturday's qualifying session.
Hamilton slid dramatically into the Turn 13 barriers in the opening phase after his right-front brake disc failed, with team-mate Nico Rosberg going on to take his fifth pole position of the season – one more than Hamilton.
Hamilton was due to start the race from 15th position, after the application of Esteban Gutiérrez's three-place grid penalty, but Mercedes is now likely to switch his front brake material from one produced by Brembo to Carbon Industrie, which would normally lead to a breach of parc ferme conditions and result in a pit lane start.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is unsure, however, whether or not the change can be made on safety grounds.
"I'm not sure that this is totally clarified. We have had a brake failure, which means we are obliged to make sure that the car is running safe tomorrow," said Wolff after qualifying. "What that could mean is switching the brake supplier, but if this results in starting from the pit lane is not yet discussed – we haven't got the decision on it.
"Many teams are running that brake material, so that safety discussion probably needs to be extended."
Wolff added that, after previous failures, Brembo had recently upgraded its brakes to boost reliability.
"Brembo had a failure earlier in the year, and they upgraded the discs to what is supposedly the safest disc," he commented. "They put a lot of research in to the carbon disc so there was no gamble whatsoever.
"Both [Hamilton and Rosberg] have been trying both materials every weekend, or almost every weekend."
Mercedes also faces uncertainty over the health of Hamilton's gearbox after the incident. If the unit needs to be changed and the former World Champion is able to start the race on the grid, he would drop five places.