Hamilton’s car handled “like a four-poster bed”

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says his seventh place in the Chinese Grand Prix was ‘not a great finish’ after an eventful race left him fighting back through the field with damage.

After starting from last, the reigning world champion was caught up in the first corner chaos that followed contact between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferraris.

“It was a difficult one,” Hamilton said after the race. “I got a good start. It’s always difficult starting at the back and getting involved in certain things.

“I tried to avoid whatever was happening ahead of me but got tangled in it – of course – and after that was just trying to battle my way through.”

After contact with Felipe Nasr’s Sauber, Hamilton was forced to pit for a new front wing and says his Mercedes suffered from damage for the remainder of the race.

“The car was pretty damaged – I don’t know what. I’m sure it was some aero components. Suspension was damaged as well – car was flexing like crazy. It was like a four-poster bed today.”

Hamilton made five stops throughout the course of the race as Mercedes attempted to react to the frantic racing after the early safety car and ultimately had to settle for seventh place after proving unable to find a way past Felipe Massa’s Williams in the closing stages.

“It felt like every time I had to make a stop, I was having to come through again,” said Hamilton. “Wasn’t really gaining a lot of ground. At the end there was nothing left of the tyres. But anyway, that’s racing.

“Not a great finish for us this weekend, but hopefully onwards and upwards.”

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

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    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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    49 comments on “Hamilton’s car handled “like a four-poster bed””

    1. Hamilton’s race today with Massa is embarrassing to say the least.
      I think everyone can agree here that 4th was easily within reach. I mean, he caught up with both Williams with the advantage of having enough buffer in time between him, Ric and Kimi yet he just couldn’t get past the Williams. Interestingly Danny made both passes easily and also Kimi did same with ease.
      Is this a sign Hamilton is not fit enough to fight for 2016 championship? I don’t see him beating Nico this year. I would be pleasantly surprised if he manages to do that. But for now, my stock is with Nico.
      I know the guy is relaxing and taking things easy and all that, but he needs to find whatever it is he dropped that made him compete in the past.

      1. No it was a sign of a damaged car eating its tires while on the slowest tire fighting against a slippery Williams and the second and third fastest cars on better tires. He did a great job in this race. His earlier passes were great, his tires were just done.

        1. @addimaf1 So were those of Massa, Kimi and Ricciardo were always going to be able to pass but surely Hamilton should’ve been able to get ahead of the Williams.

          1. He had a chance earlier in the stint when he got past Bottas, but his tires were done by the time the red bull had caught him. Massa was on same age mediums, but his car wasn’t broken and wrecking his tires. Kimi and Riccardo was on new softs.

          2. He cought Massa easily so he had a pace advantage.

            Tires are the same age.

            But that Mercedes is Terrible when following another car. It was very noticable, any time he got close car would loose all composure.

            They will now claim damage to the floor, and excuses.

            Meanwhile Riciardo and Kimster got by within lap or two.

            1. When Ricciardo passed Massa he was on 5 lap old medium tyres in an un-damaged car compared to Hamilton’s 12 lap old mediums.

              When Raikkonen passed Massa he was on 9 lap old soft tyres compared to Hamilton’s 16 lap old mediums.

              So you can’t really compare.

            2. @jureo

              Meanwhile Riciardo and Kimster got by within lap or two.

              Which hasn’t got anything to do with the rest of your post.

              Might as well say “Meanwhile Garbage are getting ready for a new album”.

        2. Hamilton pushed very hard early in his last stint. Like it or not the cause for hamilton’s tires going away is his own fault. His car certainly was broken. At least ham claims so.

          1. I hate it when people are all about assumption and ignore facts, as at Lap 30 Karun Chandhok (CH4 commentator) said to David Coultard that the information he got from the Merc pit crew, they said some part of the floor is damaged because the plan for Lewis was for him to use the 2 brand new soft tyres to the end but because of the damage to the aero floor his tyres only lasted 12 laps thats why the medium didnt last as well, In hindsight Lewis should have started from pitlane

      2. Hamilton had a damaged suspension, turning vane and bargeboard, so I am not surprised that he couldn’t overtake Massa with that damage.

        1. Yes there was the image with the rear wing being dragged under the car for an entire lap before going into the pits for a refit, but the point is he had enough pace to pass many cars and then get to the Williams.

          1. You think you can judge the impact the damage has on tire wear or fuel loads?
            Or you think Rosberg is 2sec a lap faster?

          2. Hardly, it was clear from the footage that Hamilton was fighting the car. Without damage he would have breezed pass you could see the cars behaviour was not right through corners with him repeatedly slipping back from the Williams. Still credit to Massa he made the lost of it and kept the W07 behind.

      3. 5 stops was a genius tactic from the team, leaving medium to the end, another brilliant idea…
        Mercs have one person who works on tactics for both pilots and he`s surely put his money on Rosberg`s win…

        1. That’s as silly as it’s ever been.

      4. He could pass cars OK when his tyres were fresh from the pits but once he’d done about 8-10 laps you could see his pace drop off like a stone. He did pass Kimi pretty easy earlier on when his tyres were fresher

      5. I don’t think anything is easy to say as we have no idea how damaged the car was and how much he was fighting with it. Looking at how little life he was getting from the tyres against Rosberg, even factoring in he was racing vs Rosberg nursing it’s still reasonable to assume it much like Bahrain wasn’t in a full strength car.

        He didn’t look his best either attacking Massa or defending by that point in the race but we have no idea what he was managing in terms of the cars performance.

      6. You forgot the fact that he already on 20+ lap medium beside damaged car. Track temperature also already cooling down a bit which makes it outside of medium temperature window (evident by all car on medium struggled). Raikkonen and Ricciardo are using fresher softs and the track temperature that time more suitable to the softs too.

        1. @sonicslv I think Ricciardo was on Meds as well when he passed Ham/Massa. Only Kimi was on softs for the last stint along with Vettel for the top7.

      7. I think that had he not damaged his car early on, we would have seen Hamilton fight through the front runners far more easily, although the SC did help him catch up to the back of the field.

        1. I doubt LH suddenly forgot how to race, this weekend. I doubt he wanted to give up any more points than he was already going to before he started getting passed in the remaining laps.

      8. Alonso was fit to fight for 2010 and Abu Dhabi still happened (and he started 4th there!)

        1. Exactly. He did not have within himself and mostly the car… To pass. Poor weekend by his standard…

    2. MG421982 (@)
      17th April 2016, 10:11

      No, but I hardly believe it could have been better anyway. The SC period helped him a lot, otherwise probably he would have finished out of points.

      1. Which race were you watching? The safety car didn’t help Hamilton at all!!! He pitted twice under the safety car and lost a place. The team thought they could make the soft tyre last long enough for an effective two stopper but with the floor damage they couldn’t pull it off. And actually it seems he took the same soft tyres he discarded under the safety car for the penultimate stint so in every likelihood he would have finished a bit higher without the safety car.

      2. @corrado-dub In hindsight maybe getting rid of super soft at SC period is a mistake. Without hindsight, I already questioned Mercedes strategy to not pitting Hamilton 12 lap before race end to super soft or soft when it’s already obvious at that time:

        a) the mediums can only last about 20 lap (based on Button and Hamilton’s own middle stint) yet they somehow asking Hamilton to nurse it for 26+ lap. (Button was 2s slower than he started at the end of his long medium stint)
        b) all other cars on medium already struggling (including Hamilton that locks his tires often after passing Bottas)
        c) the track temperature is cooling down, not suitable anymore for medium
        d) he already few laps struggling behind Massa. Assuming pitting cost him 25 s and with new super soft he can lap 3-4s quicker, it’s a net gain and at worst he will finished behind Massa again.

        The problem is if Hamilton ran out of fresh tires, which is why getting rid of SS maybe a mistake, but 1 lap old SS still look better than 20lap old medium.

        1. @sonicslv 20lpa-old mediums vs. 1-lap-old supersoft + what’s effectively a ~20 second penalty, though?

    3. One more lap, and it would’ve been 8th!

    4. ‘Like a four-poster bed’ lol. I watched most of the race on his onboard (why can’t we record onboards or ever see them again Sky?) His car looked okay in free air but very ordinary once he was behind another car and had a few laps on the tyres.

    5. Bad race for 21 drivers on the field = off-day
      Bad race for Lewis Hamilton = coping with damage.
      Hamilton is becoming like Barrichello with all these excuses. Funny how his car wasn’t damaged at the start of his final stint when he was going mega quick.

      1. What evidence do you have to suggest hamiltions car wasn’t damaged? I am really intrigued to see what information you have that contradicts what the tv feed, driver, engineers, lap times, tyre deg and pictures post race show.

      2. @wsrgo So you are saying it was a bed race?

        1. Hahahahaha A+

      3. Hrm. Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, and Lewis Hamilton all say that Hamilton’s car was heavily damaged at turn one, and as a result, the car ate through the tires too quickly.

        Random internet poster says Hamilton’s car wasn’t damaged.

        Who should we believe?

        1. The fact that they’re saying a ‘cut tyre’ compromised his race proves my point. Yes, it may have delayed his initial progress, but it doesn’t say why he was so slow at the end. The team is saying that the cut tyre’ was the reason they went for mediums at the end. Makes no sense unless they were planning to put the first set of softs back on Hamilton. Just a sea of excuses to hide the fact that Lewis simply failed to make his mediums last. On less fuel.

    6. //Funny how his car wasn’t damaged at the start of his final stint when he was going mega quick.//

      Thank you that you noticed that. His car wasn’t just quick at the start of the last stint. It was very quick at the start of every stint. But because of the low downforce he was eking too much life out of the tyres and his pace was dropping off. If you need comparison, Rosberg set the second fastest time of the race I think on the same medium tyres. Hamilton had nowhere near that pace even on the softs.

      1. Yeah, ask yourself why Hamilton couldn’t get any close to Rosberg’s time. Because he’s a bad driver? Definitely it was because of the damage that was eating his tires and giving him hard time when following cars in the front.

    7. At the fall of the chequered flag I was a little disappointed with both Lewis and Mercedes. At one point he was ahead of Raikkonen, and crawling all over the back of Ricciardo who then pitted. With a couple of laps of traffic after that pit for DR, Lewis could have pitted and come out ahead of Ricciardo with tyres 2 laps newer and just follow his strategy – he’d have been on for fourth place.

      Having looked at the data – and the post race comments – I realise this was an unfair criticism. While his fresh-boots pace was quick enough to do plenty of overtaking, the damage sustained compromised the middle and end of each stint with higher tyre wear. And who knows how much aero damage was done, requiring 44 to push harder than the cars around him to make the pace work.

      It’s obviously one to forget for Lewis, but in hindsight I think that only “criticism” that could be levelled at Lewis or the team is for not starting from the pit lane – at least he would have avoided the havoc that ruined his race!

      1. Forgot to say, while the “get-rid-of-the-supersofts” plan didn’t work out, I think it was a reasonable play to make before they found out the car wasn’t going to be able to get that to work.

    8. Nothing wrong with Lewis! Unfortunate circumstance with car pre-race and getting hit by Sauber early led to unexpected results. Good car and clean race should see him back to his old dominant self.

    9. Don’t worry folks. As soon as Rosberg has a wide enough lead, Hamiltons performance/reliability will improve dramatically.

      This will ensure:

      1. That Rosberg wins the drivers championship;
      2. That Mercedes win the constructors championship.

      It doesn’t get any better than this – a German driver, in a German car, with a German team!

      Call me crazy, but go write this down in stone……

      1. Cool to see and hear the excuses for bad performance from an arrogant ex champion. The Germans are not known for putting up with that sort nonsense. Rosberg has all the marks of a champion.

        1. Lucky he’s driving for an Italian team then, really :)

          As for Rosberg, he’s quick enough for sure, let’s see how the year goes.

      2. You what? …. Let me fix that for you:

        “a barely German driver, in a barely German car, with a barely German team.”

        Unless you are saying Mercedes paid Bottas and Nasr to crash into Hamilton I really don’t see what on earth you are on about :/

      3. Actually, I’m going to write

        “Rosberg has had a good start to the year, while Hamilton’s had everything go tits up a bit”

        I know, it’s not a great conspiracy, but, I’m still working on it.

    10. @Grant ‘Rosberg has all the marks of a champion.’ You are absolutely right. After all, he is German!

    11. What I don’t understand is the decision of starting the race from the grid. I would have started from pits to avoid incidents in the first corner; in addition, Lewis would have had a whole lap with the fastest car to catch up. I suspect that would have been a bigger earn at the end of the race than to spend it fighting with the Nasrs and Palmers.

      1. Paddy Lowe said they had thought of doing more work on the car pre-race, which would have forced them into a pit lane start. It sounded as if he had wanted to do that but was overruled. He did point out that it would have avoided the first lap damage, but he admits that is just hindsight.

        Personally I was surprised that Lewis did not start from the pit lane – he has a poor first lap record when he has started near the back of the grid.

    12. Tired of conspiracy theories. The simplest answer (the truth) is usually the correct one.

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