For Lewis Hamilton, the European Grand Prix weekend will be one to forget. During the last nine races the McLaren rookie stood on the podium, but this weekend a series of problems hampered the young Brit. During the final phase of Qualifying yesterday, the twenty-two year olds McLaren suffered a right front wheel failure due to an un-tightened wheel nut which pitched him into the tyre barriers at the Schumacher S .
Despite the accident on Saturday, Hamilton was deemed fit enough to start the race from tenth position on the grid in his repaired race car. But at Turn One, on a damp track, Hamilton picked up a right rear puncture from a spinning BMW which dropped him to the back of the field.
On lap three, having pitted for intermediate tyres, Hamilton aquaplaned at Turn One and joined four other drivers in the gravel. However, Lewis had the forethought to keep the Mercedes engine running and having been lifted from the gravel by a JCB, continued around the circuit, albeit a lap down. At this point the race was red flagged and on the restart he was allowed to unlap himself, passing all drivers and the safety car. But at this stage the inexperienced F1 driver made a decision to dive into the pits for dry tyres, a gamble which was made some four laps too early and halfway through the next lap he had, once again, fallen a lap behind after ploughing into the gravel at the Dunlop hairpin.
When the track eventually dried, Hamilton put together some extremely competitive laps as he chased down back markers and at times it looked as though he would finish in the points. But another failed tyre gamble during a shower toward the end of the race put the Brit out of contention, and despite passing Fisichella for ninth during the final lap, he finished 1.2 seconds behind the other Renault of Heikki Kovalainen in eighth.
Speaking to ITV he said, “I enjoyed the race, to be honest. I pushed as hard as I could to catch up. Obviously Fernando drove a fantastic race, so congratulations to him. But the fight’s still on.”
“It has been an extraordinary weekend, but it is good experience for me. Usually when you come in, you have to go to the podium, but I didn’t have to go this time, so it’s a new experience,â€ he joked.
“You have got to take chances, it was my call and these things happen.”