Hamilton was heard on the radio during the race referring to problems with power delivery. He said afterwards the disruptions were “huge” and he “thought the engine was going to fail.”
The drop-outs were caused by the power unit getting too hot, said Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff. “We had a problem on the cooling of the car. It ran hot straight from the first lap.
“We tried to manage the situation but eventually needed to stop to get on top of the problem.”
Mercedes used Hamilton’s pit stop to remove cooling panels around Hamilton’s head rest to improve ventilation. The team also experienced overheating problems at the first race of the season but Wolff insisted the cooling level “was set absolutely correctly” in Canada.
“We tried to optimise at certain stages of the race, optimise for the start, and it didn’t come together as expected. So it was a mechanical failure.”
Hamilton completed his seventh race distance on the power unit, which keeps him on target to avoid any penalties for changing parts before the end of the season. He said his relief at finishing the race made up for a relatively poor fifth-place finish.
“I’m sure the next couple of days it’ll get more and more painful – ultimately a poor weekend – but it could be a lot worse. I could have had a DNF and lost 25 points.
“However in the two races we’ve lost 18 points or whatever it is. We’ve definitely fallen behind a little bit in that respect but I’m just grateful the engine made it through today and that I got to see the distance.
“I gave it everything I could, didn’t leave anything on the table. That’s all you can do.”
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2018 F1 season
- ‘It doesn’t matter if we start last’: How Red Bull’s junior team aided Honda’s leap forward
- Honda’s jet division helped F1 engineers solve power unit problem
- McLaren Racing losses rise after Honda split
- Ricciardo: Baku “s***show” was Red Bull’s fault
- “Drive to Survive Episode 1: All to Play For” reviewed