Lewis Hamilton apologises to Mercedes team after early exit from Italian GP qualy
2008 World Champion to start Sunday's race from just twelfth
By Pete Gill and Mike Wise at Monza
Last Updated: 08/09/13 8:48am
Having claimed four consecutive pole positions prior to Monza, Hamilton will start Sunday's race from a lowly 12th on the grid after a day to forget for the 2008 World Champion.
Still lacking confidence on the brakes of his W04, Hamilton has struggled throughout the weekend and, despite being blocked by Adrian Sutil at the conclusion of Qualy Two, the Englishman described his own driving as "idiotic" as his fading title hopes suffered a crushing setback.
"I just didn't get a lap together in Q2 today and it's hugely disappointing, not just for me, but also for the team and I can only apologise to them as we had a quick car today," Hamilton said prior to the announcement that his former friend Sutil had been handed a three-place grid demotion by the stewards.
After reaching the top-ten shoot-out in the last 67 qualifying sessions, Hamilton will begin Sunday's grand prix in the unfamiliar setting of the midfield pack - a particularly dangerous place to be through the opening corners at Monza when a blast of speed off the line is followed by a sudden burst of deceleration for two ultra-tight chicanes.
"Qualifying has always been a real strong point for me but it really didn't come together this afternoon," Hamilton added. "Q1 was fine but I didn't do a good enough job in Q2. I came off at Parabolica on my first run which damaged the car and it was a downward spiral from there really. We will see what we can do from here tomorrow. I'll be pushing like hell to get a decent finish but there are a lot of quick cars ahead."
Not least the RB9 of Sebastian Vettel with the World Championship leader cruising to the 40th pole position of his career. An afternoon downpour is forecast for Sunday but, from so far back on the grid, no amount of rain may be enough for Hamilton to turn the championship tide back into his favour.
"I don't particularly see it," he replied forlornly to Sky F1 when asked if he could still mount a challenge for victory, "but anything is possible."
Speaking later, team boss Ross Brawn said he "honestly couldn't tell" whether the incident with Sutil was the difference between Hamilton progressing to Q3 and being knocked out.
He did, however, say that the floor damage Hamilton mentioned was caused at the Ascari corner and not when he ran wide exiting Parabolica on his first flying lap in Q2.