There has been a consistent narrative in Formula One for the past month going into race day.
That leads to an exciting opening few laps as he charges through the field towards the top positions. It is the same story facing Hamilton today as he starts the German Grand Prix in 15th place on the grid, his worst qualifying position for five years.
But unlike in Austria and Britain where it was driving error that caused him to start down the order, yesterday it was a mechanical failure that hurt his hopes. A brake disc failed during the first part of qualifying, pitching him off the track at high speed with the impact of the crash estimated to be as high as 30G.
The good news for the 2008 world champion was that he had done a fast enough lap time in that session to have qualified, but he was unable to set another time in the second part of qualifying because his car was so badly damaged.
So that leaves Hamilton on the eighth row of the grid, although he moved up one spot because Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber had a three-place grid penalty for crashing into Pastor Maldonado in Britain that moved him from 15th to 18th.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, teammate Nico Rosberg took full advantage of the Briton's misfortune to take pole position on the Hockenheim circuit, with a lap time of one minute, 16.540 seconds to outpace the two Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
Rosberg has a four-point lead in the championship going into the event and only the possible wet weather, or a repeat of the gearbox failure that saw him retire at Silverstone two weeks ago, can realistically deny him a first victory on home soil and increase his points lead.
Rosberg tried to sound magnanimous after qualifying. “Home race, to be on pole is fantastic,” he said. “I would have preferred if it was an open fight with Lewis, so I’m less happy with the result.”
Rosberg is not fooling anyone, though.
This was a dream result and, with Hockenheim being a circuit where it is difficult to overtake, he has a great chance to open up a sizeable margin over Hamilton today.
The German lost 25 points of his advantage through no fault of his own at Silverstone, so this may well be his turn to gain from some misfortune for his teammate.
History is on his side, too. Since the Hockenheimring was redesigned in 2002, five of the eight races held have been won by the driver starting on pole, and only someone starting on the front row has stood on the top step of the podium.
For Hamilton it is a case of damage limitation.
Make a good start, try to gain as many positions on the opening lap as possible while the cars ahead have still to find a rhythm, and then hope the superior pace of the Mercedes can help make a difference.
The thorns in his side, as far as trying to be best of the rest behind Rosberg is concerned, are likely to be the two Williams cars of Bottas and Massa.
They again are the fastest in a straight line, making overtaking them difficult.
On his chances for the race, Hamilton said: “I’ve got a little bit of pain, but that’s what usually happens when you have a crash like that. Even if something’s broken, I’ll still be driving tomorrow.
“We’ll figure something out.
“There are still a decent amount of races to go, and we’ll do what we can tomorrow.”
* With agency
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