Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Hamilton: “Massive” cross-weight ruined handling in Austin

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says his car’s handling imbalance in the United States Grand Prix was caused by a “massive” cross-weight which affected its cornering in left-handers.

The Mercedes driver qualified on pole position for the race but both the team’s cars were rebuilt on Sunday morning after the team decided to change their water pumps.

“They took the car apart in the morning and when they put it back together the car was imbalanced,” said Hamilton. “So it was a massive cross-weight.

“The right-front and the left-rear take all the weight. The car would not turn through the left-hand corners.

“It felt very strange out there. I thought I had a massive tailwind or something when I was going through turn 19, going through the right-handers was better but there’s not a lot of right-handers at that track. I think if we hadn’t had that problem we’d have been in an awesome place.”

However Hamilton said he is wary of the threat from both a reinvigorated Ferrari and Red Bull, who believe Mexico offers their last, best chance of winning a race this year.

“The Ferraris were really quick in the last race, you have to assume that they’ll be quick this week,” said Hamilton. “Looking at last year the top three were Ferrari and Red Bull.

“Being that the power difference here is kind of irrelevant obviously, the Red Bull, which is a great car, thy’re going to be hard to beat. And they came second in the last race, they’re going to be strong in qualifying and in the race.”

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27 comments on “Hamilton: “Massive” cross-weight ruined handling in Austin”

  1. So the team screwed up.
    Btw, a complete rebuild for only a waterpump is way beyond the allowed repairs in Parc fermee.
    https://www.formula1.com/en/championship/inside-f1/rules-regs/Parc_Ferme.html

    1. Yeah i think Hamilton is talking honestly in his own mind, but it is probably not the true story.

  2. Lewis probably knows exactly what he means, but I expect I am not the only one who finds the explanation totally incomprehensible.

    1. It makes sense to me; whenever I take something apart and rebuild it I’m left with a few remaining pieces.

      1. Haha @coldfly, I hope you are not someone’s mechanic. :)

    2. SparkyAMG (@)
      26th October 2018, 10:45

      @hohum if we combine it with the reports from last weekend that both cars had their water pumps reverted to an old spec between Qualification and the Race I think it’s reasonable to assume that Mercedes weren’t allowed to make the other changes necessary to re-balance the cars for this old part.

      1. @sparkyamg, I must have missed the part about different specwater pumps, but I have trouble believing that F1 uses any pumps with massive weight.

    3. If what he explains here is true, Mercedes broke Parc Ferme conditions then as the setup of the car was changed.

  3. Maybe he did have a massive tail wind, just before the start they showed a US flag blowing straight out and up a little.. around 20 knots I’d reckon.
    Not sure where it was on the course but…

  4. If I am not mistaken, there is provision to apply for the ability to work on certain parts and if reliability is an issue, you can change non-sealed parts, with identical components, without penalty. As in this case. Changing or altering sealed items such as gear boxes, electronics, suspension …. to the back of the grid with you….
    If they had to remove suspension parts to get to the water pump, there would have been limitations on what they could do on the car, set-up wise, when it was reassembled. No suspension adjustments are permitted once under Parc Ferme rules.
    But it does sound a little like a trumped up excuse. Would have been better if it were just left on the garage floor.

  5. There are suggestions the weight was off as much as 50kg to one corner!

    What did they do? Fit the engine off centre??

    In all seriousness, the story doesn’t add up. May well be some truth in it, but the level and effect grossly exaggerated in my opinion.

    1. @mrcento: Accidentally installed the pimp’d up solid gold water pump from the Hamilton jewellery collection

    2. @mrcento – I’d suspect it’s the ballast.

      It’s reasonable to assume that the ballast on the left/right sides are different because of the engine layout (e.g. coolant radiators on one side, oil radiators on the other) not being symmetrical. Maybe the ballast was swapped around when putting the car back, so the imbalance was amplified instead of being nullified.

      1. Oh, well done @phylyp I thought it must be a ballast thing, but hadn’t thought of PU and cooling likely being assymetric mean ballast has to be too. Still, 50 kg is a lot for the team to get wrong.

        1. @bosyber – thank you.

          I also suspect that the “50 kg” mentioned isn’t a physical weight imbalance of 50 kg. It could just be that ballast difference caused the car’s orientation to change (e.g. the car dipped more than expected on turns to one side), which in turn affected the airflow (e.g. the ability of the floor edges to seal the airflow), which in turn caused a loss/change of downforce to the tune of 50 kg.

          50 kg of misplaced weight would be quickly identified when taking the car out during the sighting lap, 50 kg of “misplaced” downforce would only be detected under race speeds.

          1. The teams don’t refer to generated downforce in KG, they refer to it in points.

            They also never had a sighter lap, it was done in parc ferme before the race, the first time the car would have turned its wheel on track was heading to the grid, at that point there’d be nothing they could do.

            But your theory is probably much closer to the actual reason. Could well be a bit of a mix up in terminology somewhere down the line has led Hamilton to miscommunicate it as he did, but how he did word it came across as purely weights being inequal and odd weight transfer in corners casing the car to suffer around left hand bends.

          2. @mrcento – thank you for correcting me on the term teams use for downforce, I wasn’t aware of that. Also, I referred to the partial lap that gets the car from the garage to the grid as the sighting lap. And yes, I agree that at that point, it might have been too late.

    3. 50kg crossweight change is a lot because of the long wheelbase of the car. You’d need lot of weight moved quite a bit distance to get that kind of difference at the tire. But on the other hand 50kg difference is “just” 25kg more in place and less in other. Totaling 50kg. And how do you measure this crossweight. Could be measured on scales which means static loading. Could be suspension loads from telemetry which means it is a dynamic thing so the effect was 50kg difference and not 50kg of actual weight. Hamilton talks about corners so I think it is the latter. In the latter case you could move the pump higher and to different place in the car which would then look okay on scales but during cornering and acceleration the effect is multiplied. Especially if you add things like additional brackets, new wiring, piping. I think the water pump in f1 is electric and not driven directly from the engine’s crank so the unit is then heavier because the pump is essentially pump+electric motor.

  6. Corner weighting is related to suspension setup rather than static weight distribution. Perhaps if a spring got reattached incorrectly the corner weights would be off.

    It seems a bit far fetched that the car could be so badly affected by the rebuild but still be so fast. Apart from the obvious answer that Lewis is a racing god…

    1. Do not think Lewis is making this up. It was reported in the German press yesterday that the inbalance affected both Mercs but Bottas’s less so. Apparently Red Bull had a similar problem in qualifying at one race of 40kg.

    2. You started so well with a well reasoned argument but had to end in with a petulant remark-

      Apart from the obvious answer that Lewis is a racing god…

      . Smh

  7. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    1. Protests way too much, indeed!

      Aka “Situation: normal.”

  8. Wow, the boy just has to breath for the hate mob, ok dislike mob, to be out and scornful. Im no fanboy of his but its all a bit much sometimes. Im sure if smiling lovely Danny Ric said it was so, everyone would nod. people people

    1. Or like when Verstappen claimed Red Bull had the same issue in Hungary qualifying and no came out and claimed he was lying or making excuses :/

  9. Mercedes confirmed this too. Due to Parc Ferme rules not only were they not allowed to make adjustments to the suspension setups on either car to correct the problem, they weren’t allowed to even weigh the cars to see if there was a problem in the first place.

  10. At least MB have sorted their set up if F1 races on an oval.

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