Lewis Hamilton was 'really concerned' for marshals as they recovered Sutil's Sauber
Both Hamilton and Rosberg surprised after track marshals run on to the Hockenheim circuit to push away broken-down Sauber; "I think you know why," adds Lewis cryptically after Safety Car not deployed
By James Galloway and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 21/07/14 11:30am
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he feared the Hockenheim marshals might get hit by an oncoming car as they attended to Adrian Sutil’s stranded Sauber in the closing stages of Sunday’s German GP.
Both Hamilton and his race-winning Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg expressed surprise after the race that the Safety Car hadn’t been deployed to recover the stricken Sauber after Sutil spun and stalled in the middle of Hockenheim’s pitstraight.
Instead, Race Control decided to control the situation with yellow flags and, after a short delay, three marshals ran across the circuit in a brief window when the final corner was clear of cars to attend to the Sauber and push it down the inside of the straight and into an opening in the pitwall. Timo Glock spun to the inside of the circuit in 2008 at the very point the marshals were dispatched to on Sunday, highlighting the potential danger they were in given how torque sensitive the 2014 cars are.
Hamilton, who was the first driver on the scene once the marshals had entered the track, revealed afterwards his concern for the men's safety
“I was really concerned for the marshals. It was really concerning,” the Mercedes driver told reporters.
“When you come round that corner at serious speed and then there are marshals standing not far away from where you’re driving past, for me that’s the closest it’s been for a long, long time.”
Hamilton revealed that he had flashbacks to memories of watching the harrowing footage from the 1977 South African GP when Welshman Tom Pryce hit a marshal who was crossing the track with a fire extinguisher. Both men were killed in the incident.
“When I used to work at a driving school in Bedford and one day I came in and they had this video playing all the time from a race years and years ago,” Hamilton recounted. “A car stopped on the track, a marshal ran across the track and got hit by a car coming past.
“So that was the first thing I thought about and I couldn’t believe that the Safety Car hadn’t come out.”
Race Control’s failure to dispatch the Safety Car for Sutil’s lap-48 spin appeared to catch most by surprise, including Hamilton’s own Mercedes team who called the Briton into the pits three laps ahead of schedule for a new set of supersoft tyres. The rubber was subsequently to fade to costly effect in the final throes as the Englishman vainly attempted to chase down the second-placed Valtteri Bottas.
With widely contrasting emotions, both Mercedes drivers admitted they were surprised by the decision.
“It would have been a gamble to stay out just in case there was a Safety Car,” Hamilton told Sky Sports News. “In fact, there should have been a Safety Car. How on earth a car can be sitting in the middle of the road for a couple of laps and not come out…but I think you know why.”
Perhaps wisely given the scrutiny his post-race comments have attracted this season, Hamilton declined to clarify what he meant by that final cryptic remark.
“A Safety Car would have normally come out in situations like that,” he added.
Rosberg, who would have seen his large lead wiped out by any Safety Car period, himself admitted to Sky Sports News: “I was surprised, I was definitely expecting it to come out.”
However, the bravery of the marshals meant the German’s substantial lead of the race was kept intact as he cruised to an untroubled victory to extend his World Championship advantage over Hamilton.
"I was a bit worried at times because a Safety Car would not have been ideal, but it was great that they didn’t come out,” a beaming Rosberg said to Sky Sports F1.
Sauber, meanwhile, have attributed Sutil’s spin – which saw both Hamilton and Fernando Alonso urgently veer off the circuit in a successful bid to avoid a collision – to a ‘sudden loss of power’.
The Swiss team remain without a point in 2014 while 14 now separate Hamilton and Rosberg at the top of the Drivers’ World Championship.