Lewis Hamilton starts Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from a low 16th place as Mick Schumacher was flown to hospital after a horrific crash at 160 mph.
s Sergio Perez sped to pole position amidst thousands of lightbulbs illuminating the Jeddah street circuit, seven-time world champion Hamilton failed to make it out of Q1 in one of the worst qualifying performances of his record-breaking Formula One career.
Hamilton and his Mercedes team have struggled to get to grips with the sport’s new regulations, but no one here would have predicted that the most successful driver on the grid would fall at the first hurdle.
A heartbroken Hamilton – almost seven tenths slower than George Russell in the other Mercedes, who ended up sixth in qualifying – replied: “I’m so sorry guys.”
Mick Schumacher will miss the Saudi Arabian GP after a serious accident in qualifying.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 26, 2022
Charles Leclerc will start second ahead of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz and world champion Max Verstappen fourth.
With two minutes left in the first qualifying session, Hamilton, who started from pole last year and won in Jeddah, said: “I can’t improve man… are we in danger right now?”
His race engineer Peter Bonnington replied: “Confirm, we are in danger.”
And although Hamilton improved with his last run to temporarily move up to 15th and get out of the danger zone, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll beat his time to complete a shock result.
It was the first time since the 2009 British Grand Prix that Hamilton didn’t emerge from Q1 in pure speed.
After his early retirement from qualifying, Hamilton told French television: “I’m looking forward to going home.”
He later apologized to his team and promised to start from the pit lane to make radical changes to his car overnight.
“There’s definitely something wrong,” Hamilton said. “It’s never been this bad.
“Maybe I’ll start from pit lane and change the car so it doesn’t behave the way it did before.
“I just apologize to my team. Everyone works so hard and when you don’t deliver for them it’s annoying.”
When Hamilton spoke on the television pen, the focus was on the 23-year-old German’s terrible fall on Schumacher.
Mick, the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, lost control of his Haas when he went over the curb at Turn 12 and crashed into the concrete wall on the opposite side of the circuit.
The force of the impact ripped the front wing and both wheels off the right side of his car before he came to a stop.
The television cameras cut off immediately and no reruns were shown. An ambulance was soon on the scene as Schumacher’s mechanics stood in the Haas garage with their hands on their heads.
But after a few minutes with no updates, news finally leaked out that Schumacher was conscious.
Schumacher’s machine was so badly damaged in the accident that it broke in two when being towed by a salvage vehicle.
Schumacher was taken to the medical center and then flown to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital seven miles south of the circuit for “further check-ups”.
Haas also said Schumacher spoke to his mother, Corinna.
Schumacher, who has been discharged from hospital, is forced to miss the race due to the severity of the damage to his car.
He later took to Twitter to confirm he was fine.
“Hi everyone, I just wanted to say I’m fine. Thank you for the nice messages. The car felt great. Haas, we will come back stronger,” he wrote.
The run was delayed by 57 minutes as barriers were repaired and the debris from Schumacher’s accident cleared up.
A day after a missile attack on an oil refinery 12 miles east of the track, the drivers – some of whom signaled their intention not to compete in Sunday’s race during an extraordinary four-hour meeting on Friday night – were back on track.
And after Hamilton’s early exit, it was Perez who stole pole, edging Leclerc by just 0.025s. Verstappen, who said he had “zero grip”, was 0.261s slower than his Red Bull teammate.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/motor-sport/mick-schumacher-airlifted-to-hospital-following-terrifying-160mph-crash-in-saudi-arabia-41492084.html Mick Schumacher was flown to hospital after a horrific 160mph crash in Saudi Arabia