Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018

Mercedes confirm Hamilton didn’t cause his car failure in Q1

2018 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton did not cause the technical failure which put him out of qualifying for the German Grand Prix, his team have confirmed.

The Mercedes came to a stop after Hamilton was seen bumping over a kerb at the exit of turn one. Mercedes confirmed Hamilton’s claim that his failure occurred before then and wasn’t triggered by it.

According to Mercedes, Hamilton’s car suffered a hydraulic problem which caused his power steering to fail.

“We had the failure at turn one as Lewis ran the ‘normal’ kerb which all the drivers use in that stage of qualifying.

“Then, with failed power steering as a result of the hydraulic failure, we had the ‘jumping’ moments that were seen on TV and which people understandably thought might have been the cause of the issue, but were in fact a consequence of it.”

Mercedes added they do not believe there is any damage to Hamilton’s engine or gearbox. However team principal Toto Wolff believes the incidents revealed a weakness in their car.

“Clearly, this is a vulnerability we have under the high loads you see when running the kerbs, and something we must get on top of,” he said.

“It will be a tall order for Lewis to come through the field tomorrow but we saw already in Silverstone how well he can fight back.”

Hamilton explained on social media why he tried to push his car back into the pits.

“Simple, it’s qualifying, the car was still going and I I hoped with all my heart that I might make it back and they could fix it. In my heart I never give up so it is the hardest thing to give in and accept the car will not make it back.

“I turned the car off and thought perhaps I can even push it back, as crazy as it sounds. that’s just me being passionate.”

It’s the second time in three visits to Hockenheim that Hamilton has experienced a technical problem during qualifying. A brake failure caused him to go off in 2014, which meant he had to start from the back of the grid.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Mercedes confirm Hamilton didn’t cause his car failure in Q1”

  1. So, is this different from the power steering/hydraulics issue Bottas had in Austria, or the same thing? I hope we’ll hear more about that tomorrow.

  2. Seems to me as damage control for the state of mind of Hamilton. Toto Wolf said clearly they could see the loss of hydraulic power happened at the moment he bumped those kerbs, not before.

    1. What’s Hamilton’s state of mind?

      1. Like a rollercoaster!

    2. Yeah, because what would a 4x F1 world champion know about the car he was actually driving compared to @dutch-1?

      1. @david-br What he knows and what he says aint the same thing

        1. He gave the team feedback, which is his job, about the state of the car before the problem became visible. The team then subsequently confirmed that information was correct. Anything else in this case really seems like idle fantasy projection.

          1. Not really, you keep your driver focused, if that means telling him what he wants to hear, so be it. This has been going on for as long as highly strung professional drivers have been driving….

          2. There’s every chance the team are covering for him. Hamilton more than any other driver has an ego so fragile the team needs to stroke it constantly. Also, anyone else ever notice that EVERY SINGLE TIME Hamilton has an issue or spin or something and ends up at the back of the grid he ALWAYS radios through and says that he has a problem with the car, ALWAYS. IMO he’s trying to cover in case he doesn’t make the expected progress through the field.

  3. Toto Wolff said that Hamilton’s mistake caused the failure.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st July 2018, 16:53

      Yes, this is why i just don’t really believe what mercedes are saying here.

    2. As usual, it’s always Lewis’ fault. These teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars on these cars so that after running over a curb, the hydraulics fail huh? Makes so much sense to me and we see it all the time, every race weekend when the drivers use the curb.

      1. Lol there’s using the curb, and then there’s repeated airborne hops along it’s length. Whack, whack, whack… If all drivers ‘used the curb’ like LH did, the whole field would dnf by half way through the race.

        1. Exactly how Verstappen wrecked his car in Silverstone at Chapel coming on to the straight.

          1. The big difference is Ver admitted he made a mistake.

    3. He said that right after the incident and he also said it would be investigated. It now looks like these are the results of the investigation

  4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    21st July 2018, 16:52

    Just what can you trust from Mercedes. Toto said something totally different to this on an interview on sky. Using the words Hamilton’s car broke when he hit the kerb. Not exactly in that order, but he looked rather frustrated as sounded like he was blaming Hamilton.

    This thread title says car failure in Q1. Hamilton did go wide several times in Q1. If this thread is talking about Q2, then he didn’t have the issue in Q1 and made similar looking mistakes there too. And it was Q2 he had the problem in. IMO, it does seem like it is still possible that Hamilton didn’t help avoid this happening at all. He had the option to slow right down after his steering broke. But he chose to try and rejoin the track as soon as he could and went over the kerb. He could have given himself many more metres to slow down to the left of the kerb and then gone over the grass carefully and then rejoined. That will have been a nice smooth ride. From what you could see on the onboard, a light came on on his steering wheel after he walloped the kerbs. And I can only blame his manner of rejoining for causing this. He knew he won’t have been able to set a good time if he had a problem, so why desperately lunge back on the track over a very bumpy kerb? Then it appears that he kept going when Mercedes didn’t want him to. And from his expressions when his car stopped, it almost looked like he regretted doing this. Even then, he pushes the care and he should have known given his experience that you are not allowed to do this. I think this is a poor show from Hamilton. Sorry to say.

    And also, the other confusing thing is why Hamilton went off several times before hand. If Mercedes are saying that this failure happened in T1 before Hamilton had his dramatic bouncing moment, then what caused his multiple offs at that corner before hand in this session and Q1? If he’d had a problem then, Mercedes will have reported it to him, do doubt at all. He went of at leased twice in Q1. What can he blame for this? And can doing this repeatedly before the issue not have any input towards what ened up happening. The way Mercedes have worded this is strange as there were very different words from toto to begin with.

    I do believe there was an issue, But I feel that Hamilton quite possibly was at least partially to blame for it appearing. He bounced over the kerbs heavily before Mercedes reported this problems in qualifying quite a bit more than the other drivers.

    What mercedes have said isn’t all that convincing really.

    1. Toto spoiled the party in his interview. Hamilton said, it happened even before turn1, but you can see onboard a warning light just when the car starts bouncing. Someone is lying and it wasn’t Toto. It is embarrassing for Hamilton as he often speaks about other driver’s alleged weaknesses and cracking under pressure….

    2. It was at the end of Q1? Meaning he couldn’t go out for Q2 to set a lap.
      But yeah, it’s odd how the story suddenly changes. But it still says the car broke when going over the kerb at turn 1, which he messed up his entry and went wide at and too far over the kerb, making it his mistake in what they’re saying anyway. So either way, it’s his mistake.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st July 2018, 18:49


        Apologies for that, it was indeed the end of Q1. Was incorrect there.

      2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st July 2018, 19:13

        I’ve also just watched the Channel 4 coverage. Toto’s comment there also tells a different story.

        he said: “what we see on the data is that it was jumping over the kerb that caused the hydraulic leak.”

        karun Chandhok to clarify then asked, “so you can definetely see a hydraulic leak when Hamilton goes over the kerbs?” Toto “Exactly yes”

        How much more clear could toto be when he’s admitting that hitting the kerbs being the cause of the problem. Especially when it is one of his own drivers, and for that matter, one he tends to be very defensive towards. The fact that the team are coming back with different stories now almost seems as if they are just trying to make Hamilton happy and avoid him having to admit to an error. This may be incorrect though. But what the team saying so many different things really makes me doubt that one of them is true. But I myself still think Hamilton has to take some responsibility for it happening in the first place. And has to take ful responsibility for refusing to stop when the team told him to and potentially making everything worse.

        1. Yeah, I think it’s just media misunderstanding what Toto is saying actually. Quotes from the article:

          “We had the failure at turn one as Lewis ran the ‘normal’ kerb which all the drivers use in that stage of qualifying.

          “Then, with failed power steering as a result of the hydraulic failure, he ad the ‘jumping’ moments that were seen on TV and which people understandably thought might have been the cause of the issue, but were in fact a consequence of it.”

          That’s saying that it was the kerb that was the issue as well, but I don’t see anywhere where he says it isn’t Hamilton’s fault. His point was that it was the kerb rather than the bouncing that caused the issue, but it was still really driver error as he went too far out on the kerb.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            21st July 2018, 20:37

            And this video and audio really does show how ridiculously awkward he can be at obeying team orders in a very important situation. And he also says the suspension broke. Why would the suspension break without some input from the driver. Those saying Hamilton is totally blameless are taking it a bit far really.


    3. I would bet the differences in his statements align with before/after meeting with the PR team.

      1. Or maybe they want to make sure they can start from P14 instead of the pitlane
        I don’t know what is wrong with the car, but I could guess they need to circumvent the Parc-fermé rules.

    4. So how about this…

      When he jammed the throttle at his last off, rather than taking it easy and finding a safe reentry point to the track, the car broke. We can twiddle our thumbs all day and discuss whether or not the car was working or his driving broke the car but the fact is, Hamilton and Hamilton alone ought to take the responsibility for trying to fly over the curbs. There was no need. Hey, I’m all for saying that there was an issue with the car from the outset, but that issue did not break the car. The car broke over the curbs. Did a problem with the car force Hamilton wide? I’ll be 100% in agreement if that’s the assessment. Did flying over the curbs break the car irreparably? I’ll be 100% in agreement if that’s the assessment. So what was the underlying cause of the final break? Flying over the curbs or no?

      So… was the car stuck in max throttle or was Hamilton stuck in max throttle?

      Who broke the car to where he was forced to retire?


      1. I wonder if this opportunity to ‘fix’ the car had other advantages. Could Mercedes have used that opportunity to ‘upgrade’ the car without penalties?

        Does anyone know the rules concerning repairs for damage done on track, as oppose to upgrading parts under normal circumstances?

        [Hamilton is too good a driver to have err’d by taking the car off the kurbs at speed like that].

  5. Seeing Hamilton’s reaction at Silverstone, there is no way they are going to tell the truth. His car was running smoothly till T1 when he ran wide (after earlier mistake at T8), bounced heavily on the grass and it cut off. I remember Maldonado’s car cutting off when jumping off the high kerbs at Eau Rouge in 2015. It looked like a mechanical failure but the cause was a driver error.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st July 2018, 17:19

      This was exactly what I said earlier (can’t remember if it was here or on Planet F1 forum) But I pointed out Maldonado’s mistake in Spa 2015. Toto first said that Hamilton going over the kerbs was the cause of the problem. And since Hamilton has said something different, the team seem to have started going towards what he says. Hamilton made at leased 2 mistakes running wide earlier this session. Was his problem there then. No and not even in this report. Hamilton looked to repeat exactly what he’d done several times. But the manner in which he desperately tried to get back on the track wasn’t necessary. He could have slowed down to the left of the kerb for a bit longer, then joined back in a more sensible way. Then what he did after this just looked poor. If he had stopped sooner, it is quite possible that not as much damage will have been done.

      1. Maybe that was the issue for running wide earlier in the lap too ? Maybe an F1 team with all the data know more information on the issue than someone sat at home watching on TV ?

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          21st July 2018, 23:00

          If the team know everything, if there was a problem earlier, they will have told him not to push any longer. As like you say, they know more than we do. But he went off several times before the team indicated there was a problem. And also confirmed here that it was at turn 1. And if he knew he had a problem before running wide here, then surely he shouldn’t have tried as hard. What I’m thinking is that everything was fine until this bumpy ride.

          I’m not a hamilton hater, but what he did today after the problem was very unreasonable towards his team.

          This shows that his attitude was pretty poor and should even by hamilton fans. That is why I can’t feel very sorry for him. Reporting broken suspension is fine to say. But how is the car to blame for this? He didn’t have problems until he’d been off one or two times. And the first few were driver error as he didn’t have the issues until just before turn 1. It is likely to be something related to one or two of Hamilton’s off moments earlier in the session. It certainly wasn’t clean compared to many drivers.

          1. Why would you feel sorry for any F1 driver? They get paid millions upon millions of dollars to drive a car around.. who cares about thier feelings about anything.

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            22nd July 2018, 10:58

            If they have done all they possibly can without making any errors and something goes wrong, i can feel sorry for them. But when their session looks a bit of a mess before the problems appear, then they do things that they should have done afterwards (like Hamilton continuing when he’d heard the words 3 words stop stop stop said to him about 10 times.) The pushing the car back he also was unprofessional given he should have known that the car has to get back under its own power. So that is why I don’t feel sorry for Hamilton. If his session had looked clean and his car had a clear break down and he did stop when the team told him to, I would certainly have some sympathy.

      2. He possibly ran wide because the hydraulic issue was causing a problem with the power steering.

        Hamilton haters will blame him of course, fans will agree with Wolff, just pick your side.

        1. would he go full beans over the kerb back on track if he had a steering problem though?

          I don’t believe that

  6. Even if they said it was Hamilton’s fault it wouldn’t stick: Lewis is made of Teflon.

    1. @niefer
      That dude enters hopeless depression at the slightest misshap.

  7. Just media mind games. Mercedes know truly well the problem was caused by Hamilton’s mistake and that’s what Toto admitted too after qualifying. Later on they hear about Lewis denying it so they decided to support him instead of causing problems with the media by team claiming one thing and driver claiming the opposite. They just want to maintain peace inside the team.

  8. Geez. How about both are right? The car was already having hydraulics/power steering issues and it completely gave up when the kerb was hit.

    1. yeah… nobody heard it on the radio and the thousands sensors were asleep…

      1. Yup nobody hears Wolff finish by saying ‘but the car is just coming back so we need to check.’…… but there it is on the video for everyone to hear. Must of all nipped out to make a cup of tea and missed it.

      2. Was the sensors asleep when Bottas’ power steering went? Because from I can remember, Mercedes said they saw no evidence of any issues until it just went.

      3. Sensors are really not like pixie dust. They cost added weight, and the cars run with the minimum they can. Those that are fitted track only one thing, and that only exactly where they are installed.

        Honestly, its not unrealistic that the sensors can be late (or never manage to) detect a problem – or for that matter give a misleading impression of it.

        It could be that one of the theories being advanced in this thread might be true, but chances are that the official story from the team post-investigation is the real one.

  9. No surprise, Mercedes always have reliability issue except last year fortune year for Hamiton after 2016.
    I’ve correctly predicted one Mercedes failure back during the “Will Mercedes and Ferrari Clash Again” discussion

  10. Let us assume the hydraulics failed as he exited the corner, going over the blue kerbs. How difficult will it be for him to steer the car and how long will it take him to realise the failure. Also how quickly will the team pick it up and radio him.

    1. it could be dangerous for the car, theres a lot of things being controlled by the hydraulic system,thats what they were telling him on radio to stop, they dont wanna use a third engine this early

    2. On hydraulic systems the failure may only be discovered in a service(DRS, gearbox, power-steering etc.,) when there is a demand for the oil to that service, hence that failure will not be recognized until you are using the service and the pressure drops low enough to prevent operation. A major leakage will be detected when the hydraulic oil level goes low or when the pressure from the pump is not enough when the service is being used. Of course, failures like high oil temperature and pressure can be instantaneous detected. Low oil pressure occurs after the initial leak otherwise it is not until the service is used or during use, that the failure is discovered.

      I believe the case to be an external hydraulic oil leak that was not detected at the end of him using DRS nor before Lewis lost control due to lost of steering and gearbox operations. So the point is the failure could not be detected until there was a lost of function in this case.

      1. So a loss of function could keep him going straight over the red Kerbs.?

        1. Exactly! Without knowing about the failure it would be difficult for anyone to have control in the initial stages of the failure.

  11. HAM was ran off track several times during qualy so whether the breakage was on him or not, he wasn’t in best form.
    Maybe he was overdriving because he wanted to win so badly on German soil to revenge Vettel winning at Silverstone.

    No excuses for not shutting off the engine when told to do so though. His achilles heel is believing he is bigger than the team coupled with the inability to keep emotions from getting the best of him. Don’t think any other driver would have disobeyed the order knowing full well it could compromise his season.

    One thing that may end up saving HAM is Vettel’s own instability. As seen previously, he is also a ticking time bomb under pressure.

    1. Good points, Mike

    2. It was Q1, I think you are way off. The top teams do not push during Q1. Lewis stayed out during the entire session which is unusual for a dry track, which only means that the team was still collecting data due to the limited runs in Practice 3.

      1. I was watching and saw highlights…he wasn’t having a good day.

    3. I don’t get a vibe off SV that he is feeling pressure. Not like last year when the car wasn’t always there. This year it is always there, and when he has had setbacks he hasn’t sounded too concerned. He knows even if he has on off weekend he has the car to answer to it at the next race. Not suggesting he isn’t well aware of the opportunity he has that must not be squandered tomorrow.

  12. Vettel is enjoying much better reliability. Ferrari is not only the most well-rounded car for all tracks (2017 car as well), they have the best engine and reliability right now. Look at Haas and Sauber, consistently Q3 contenders and scoring points. Hope Championship is not decided by reliability. Twice in three races now Hamilton having issues (Austria DNF and now this). Mercedes seriously needs to turn it around after the summer break. Ferrari have clearly overtaken Mercedes and is the undisputed fastest car right now and i think they are absolutely gonna dominate their favorite tracks like Hungry, Singapore and Mexico.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      21st July 2018, 19:25

      @amg44 I’m still expecting Mercedes to come back in the development race after the summer break like they did last year. Hopefully it will be closer this year of course.

    2. Ferrari is not only the most well-rounded car for all tracks (2017 car as well)

      This year maybe, but in 2017, Mercedes took 15 poles and 12 wins out of 20. That says all you need to know @amg44

  13. The car has to get back to the pits under its own power.

    A similar thing happened to Alonso a few years ago at Hungary (I think), he pushed it back with the marshals, and wasn’t allowed to carry on. So even if Mercedes fixed this problem in time, they would have been out

    1. But Hammy loves the theatrics doesn’t he. Pushing the car for miles… was he on something?!

  14. I think it was Max’s fault

    1. No, it was Alonso’s.

    2. Or Ericsson. Definitely.

  15. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    21st July 2018, 21:36

    Just to clarify…

    I meant that hamilton would’ve been extra keen to get pole after Silverstone.

  16. Regardless of where the fault lies, my jaw was on the floor when I realized Lewis had it in mind to push the car back to pits.

    I wonder if we’re getting to the point where Mercedes’ developmental “head start” for the hybrid era is no longer sufficient to keep them at the top. Now that they’re having to push their kit to keep pace we start seeing increasing failures.

    But Hamilton should also stay on the track.. that always helps.

  17. Gemma St. Ivans
    21st July 2018, 23:27

    Now the 40 million man can go back to his real passion , fashion shows, rap and tattoos . Indycars have no power steering.

  18. It must be pretty hard for Toto Wolff to spew such obvious bull while he’s thinking “someone needs to learn how to drive a F1 car”

  19. Oh for the love of God, there are some wild accusations on this comment stream.
    I have gotten used to the huge anti Hamilton bias from certain sections.
    The truth is none of us know what happened.
    He was going wide through out the session so something was wrong with either the car, how he was driving or both. Its unusual for Hamilton to make so many mistakes in a session by himself and the car has been pretty bullet proof as shown by his amazing run of finishes up until recently.
    My gut is that it was both, If his power steering was playing up it would explain the regular understeering and going wide. But if it wasn’t clear to him what was wrong then he may have been over driving the car to compensate. If the power steering was deteriorating each lap and is behaving differently each time that’s tough to drive around.
    Going over the curbs at high speed was probably the icing of the cake, could he have done it more gently? probably but there are plenty of drivers who have not backed out through frustration. That is not an exclusive Lewis Hamilton club.
    As for trying to get back to the pits? Show me a driver who is happy to just give up and watch their biggest rival stroll down that road with 25 more points.

    1. @theoddkiwi +1 Good analysis all round.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      22nd July 2018, 3:01

      Yeah, even comments criticizing Hamilton for pushing his car. Even though he wouldn’t have been able to continue because his car didn’t return to the pits under its own power, I didn’t care. It’s great to see honestly.

      And with Canada 2010, Hamilton has experience with pushing his own car. They’re heavier now, but still.

  20. And if it was Hamilton’s mistake, what’s the problem? He is a human being, he can be mistaken as anyone. During his long career he has shown to be one of the greats so it is ridiculous for him to say one thing, his team another and his boss another. It was a mistake. Point.
    A quadruple champion also has the right to make mistakes.

    1. Blaming others for something he did aint a mistake, its bad sportmanship.

    2. First thing’s first: It doesn’t matter why his car was that far wide in the corner. The car broke, most likely, while reentering the track at a high speed. Was his throttle stuck after going wide? hmmmm I don’t think so. Hamilton chose to apply pressure crossing the curbing. He didn’t need to do that. He could easily have passed into Q2 as we saw anyway.

      Hamilton is not a person who can accept blame often, and when he does it is so slight and maintains that other factors were involved that forced his hand.

      No, nothing forced his hand. He himself forced his foot on that throttle in order to get max distance across the curbs.

    3. @jorge-lardone
      Anyone can make mistakes? He’s only human? Except “Crashmax” as you are used to calling Verstappen. Then you all of a sudden are not so lenient. (only allowed to make mistakes after 4 WDC’s?)
      I have news for you: Vettel is human too. he just put the Ferrari in the wall. Thankfully he has 4 WDC’s.
      Have a nice day.

      p.s. Max finished 4th

  21. The thing I found interesting about this whole affair was the comments made by Maurizio Arrivabene to Ted Kravitz on Sky F1 after qualifying. Essentially Maurizio said that it was unfortunate that Hamilton was starting from the ‘back’.

    The quote from Arrivabene was: “…Sebatisan done a great great lap … its a pity I have to say for Hamilton because, I mean, [a] good sport is when all the fighter they’re on the track but we see tomorrow, tomorrow is the race.

    That quote is rather refreshing compared to some of the comments made by Mercedes last race (Hamilton & Allison specifically where they came incredibly close to suggesting cheating) and shows the kind of sportsmanship that in my mind should be encouraged. Having said that, I acknowledge its a lot easier to be a ‘good sport’ when you are doing better than your rivals.

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