HOCKENHEIM, Germany -- Lewis Hamilton is set to start from the rear end of the grid at the German Grand Prix after a loss of hydraulic pressure saw him retire from the first session of qualifying Saturday.
Hamilton had already set a time good enough to advance to the second stage of qualifying when he ran wide at Turn 1 on a flying lap at the end of Q1. His car became airborne as it launched over the kerbs, but Hamilton did not think the resulting impact led to the issue.
His gearbox then refused to shift from fourth, and his engineer told him to stop the car and turn off the engine as he cruised through the second sector of the lap. Hamilton then attempted to push the car back to the pits but was told to stop by marshals, who moved his Mercedes into a safe place behind the barriers.
Because he had set a time that was good enough to make it to Q2, he technically qualified 15th. That 15th place will become 14th once Daniel Ricciardo's grid penalty is factored in, but if a gearbox change is required, he will drop to 19th place.
Hamilton's stoppage was met with huge cheers in the grandstands and opened a huge opportunity for reigning championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who grew up just down the road from Hockenheim, to strike another blow in this year's title fight.