HOCKENHEIM, Germany -- Lewis Hamilton has revealed he felt unwell ahead of qualifying for the German Grand Prix, leading his Mercedes team to put reserve driver Esteban Ocon on standby to take his place.
Hamilton took pole position by 0.346s after both Ferrari drivers retired from the Saturday's qualifying with car problems, but later revealed the session was not as easy as it looked. After feeling unwell on Saturday morning, Mercedes took precautionary measures -- including informing the FIA of a potential plan to sub Ocon for Hamilton -- in case the five-time world champion was unfit to take part.
"Yeah, I wasn't feeling good this morning," Hamilton said. "[I had a] bit of a sore throat, so we just prepped just in case I wasn't going to be able to do the session.
"I did the practice, and then we were prepared to be able to put the second driver in in the worst-case scenario."
Had Hamilton not taken part in qualifying, he would also have been ruled out of the race, with Ocon becoming the team's official entrant. However, as things panned out, Hamilton now starts the German Grand Prix from pole position -- two places ahead of his closest championship rival and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton said he was expecting a close battle with Charles Leclerc for pole position after the Ferrari driver topped the final practice session and looked quick in the first two parts of qualifying. However, a fuel system issue ultimately ruled Leclerc out of Q3, leaving the Ferrari tenth on the grid.
"We saw both Ferraris drop out and that obviously made it a little bit different in terms of the battle that we had at the end. Nevertheless, I think I had pretty good pace and it would have been close between myself and Leclerc. They've been quick all weekend.
"But I was really, really happy with the laps from Q2 onwards, and yeah, the team worked so hard, and it's really great for Mercedes with the 125 years celebration this weekend. It's been a great way to start the weekend."