Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Hamilton sure he didn’t damage car by running wide

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he was encouraged to discover his car was damaged during the opening race of the 2019 F1 season as it explained his struggles with his car’s balance during the race.

However he admitted he didn’t know how a section of the left-rear portion of the floor on his Mercedes was damaged during the race. Hamilton believes the damage occurred on lap four, around which time his pace began to drop off compared to team mate Valtteri Bottas.

He first mentioned a loss of rear grip to his team on the 10th lap of the race. Hamilton said he had “no way of knowing the it was the floor.”

“Something didn’t feel right. But you can’t dwell on it, you just have to try and work with what you have. I was quite easily keeping up with Valtteri up until then, and then afterwards I felt I was really struggling with the rear.”

“I’m not sure where it came from because I didn’t run wide or anything like that anywhere,” he added.

Hamilton said the damage was potentially caused by running over debris from first-lap incidents in which Daniel Ricciardo and Robert Kubica lost their front wings.

The damage affected “quite a sensitive part of the floor”, he explained.

“Actually it’s quite encouraging to me. We worked very hard to get the balance right and I felt like I had good pace this weekend and did our normal job in terms of working hard and getting a good set-up. And then all of a sudden the car was completely different compared to the formation laps and what we had on the long runs.

“So it’s great to see there’s a reason for the unexpected. We’ll just move forward and go from there.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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45 comments on “Hamilton sure he didn’t damage car by running wide”

  1. Watching the onboard nothing happens if the floor is damaged is because the part just dropped of the car. ( Maybe weakened in P3 when he drove over a curb)

    1. Then he should have struggled with qualifying as well.

  2. Guess we’ll get a clearer picture of how the Revatilised Bottas 2.0 will perform in the next race.

    1. He’ll probably be the same as he was in Melbourne. The damage to Hamilton’s car had no effect on the fact that he made a worse start than Bottas and was already outside DRS range (1.42 seconds behind by Keith’s info linked in the article) by the time the damage occured.

      1. @geemac It’s no real indicator of Hamilton true race pace though. It’s normal to drop behind couple of seconds to preserve the tires. Bottas no doubt has better start but we’ll never know if Hamilton can actually do better in second stint, although he still most unlikely win because his strategy will still compromised with the need to cover Vettel stop.

        1. @sonicslv Agreed it’s no true indicator, but after the first lap alone Bottas had done enough to break DRS (he was a fraction over 1s ahead if I remember correctly)…I doubt Hamilton would be dropping back as early as that.

          1. @geemac Not necessarily. I think Hamilton is smart and experienced enough to not fighting his teammate in early part of the race especially in hard track to overtake like Albert Park. All the top 5 dropped more or less the same gap in their first lap too, no one really trying anything.

      2. @geemac You can’t be suggesting that from lap 4 onward that without damage, Hamilton would not have been able to get closer at any point in the rest of the race?!

        1. I am saying that given how difficult it is to overtake at Albert Park and how well Bottas was driving, even if he didn’t have damage Hamilton wouldn’t have been able to get by and probably wouldn’t have gotten closer than 1/1.5 seconds.

          1. So many armchair experts :)

            Ferrari’s Autosport channel was same… Merc was crap had no chance, Ferrari was super good and all, merc dropped the ball and ferrari upped their game…

            Here we go again…

          2. It’s reasonable to consider he may have been able to challenge during the pit window though.

          3. I am saying that given how difficult it is to overtake at Albert Park and how well Bottas was driving, even if he didn’t have damage Hamilton wouldn’t have been able to get by

            Which corresponds with what Hamilton was saying– once he lost the start, he knew his chances of overtaking Bottas were slim to none, as you need to be 1.8 seconds/lap faster than the car in front to overtake at Albert Park.

            He might have been able to pull it off with aggressive tire strategy and a pit stop, but once they pitted him early to cover Vettel, it was all over but the shouting. Finally, for various reasons, Albert Park and Lewis Hamilton haven’t gotten along all that well– He’s only won twice in 13 runs.

  3. Thank God, Lewis found the cause of his demize on track.

    1. There was no demise; he finished second. (Where he expected to finish once he was beaten off the line.) This article is about the handling of the car after sustaining damage. You will find similar articles on other drivers who also sustained damage/had issues to contend with during the race/qualifying.

      You really ought to try to watch the race.

      1. Come on, Lewis does not need those excuses. He is capable to win races again. This time he botched his start and was outclassed by Bottas. Next time things will change. But the need of excuses is a sign of a mind under stress. Something Lewis has had before and cost him the championship.
        Of course every aero bit is there with a purpose. But this small piece does not account for 20 seconds!

        1. It seems the only one bringing up ‘excuses’ is you, so you can argue against yourself. Where is the claim that the damage cost Hamilton 20s? Apart from in your head? Theirs reasons why for example Kubica, Ricciardo and Ferrari performed the way they did. And that gets discussed. In a similar fashion theirs reasons why Hamilton performed the way he did; poor getaway, early pitstop, damage, prioritizing bringing the car home in second. And that gets discussed. Yet, as is the case after every race, you apply different standards, different terminology; ‘reasons’ become ‘excuses’ for example, and an extra dose of bile with regard to Hamilton. I wonder why?

        2. Erikje: Kubica sustained floor damage and was well off the pace after that. Ricciardo sustained floor damage and had to retire. But when Hamilton sustained floor damage he is making up excuses? Last year Verstappen also sustained floor damage and he suffered loss of balance and downforce as well. When all drivers complain about the same, they might be telling the truth…

          1. Kubica and ricci had serious visible damage. Parts of the floor missing and in case of ricci overheating as a result of additional damage.
            The missing part at hams car is hardly noticeable. You need a microscope te see the difference.
            Very different situations!

          2. @erikje take of your tinfoil hat, and horse glasses… messing with your vision and mind!

  4. So with car damage he was easy second.
    Their #2 driver was 20 seconds up the road and did the fastest lap on worn tires.

    1. @jureo True, but last year Melbourne was his best track based on flying lap pace. Only when they are this dominant in Bahrain and China I start to worry.

      1. We will find out soon enough.

        But Mercedes can turn 0.1-0.2 seconds advantage in to championship success. It is not like Ferrari, who can still loose with a faster car.

        1. It is not like Ferrari, who can still loose with a faster car

          A definite ouch for that one.

  5. Noone is debating whether Bottas would have won without this damage, he got a better start and Melbourne is one of the worst tracks on the calendar for overtaking, period. He deserved the win.

    But this puts the difference in pace into perspective, simple.

  6. all of a sudden the car was completely different compared to the formation laps

    So basically he said it affecting his start too.

    1. Absolutely reaching.

    2. @ruliemaulana he didn’t blame it for the start he’s comparing how the car felt after the damage compared to the formation laps when the drivers are checking out the feel for the car before the race

      1. He lost the part in lap 4 and noticed a difference in lap 10…
        Yep, very important part.

        1. Oh Erik. You’re a little sour on Hamilton huh. Been a tough few years for you…We understand. The Doc may be able to help. Diazepam works wonders for tension. Good luck.

          1. He is one of Ferrari’s autosport channel guys, and still sour for the fact that Ferrari supposed to be walking in the park and merc somewhere in the mid field :)

          2. Nope wrong again. I really think Lewis is the best, but I accept there are times he really messes his race. This one thanks to a superpowerfull merc the damage was only 20 seconds.

  7. So the car was feeling differently but he didn’t know why. After the race he found out that there was a piece of his car missing, which was the cause of it. Big relief for the Champ. Questions for the team.

    1. Oh, sounds like 2016 season of hidden force stopping him from winning the championship! The Force has Awaken!

      1. Yep, already the mind games take over….

    2. @pietkoster What strikes me is that he did check the floor directly after the race (see image above). So he did know where to look.

      1. That’s probably the moment he removed the part :)

      2. @matthijs so team couldnt tell him on the radio secretly which is not broadcast on tv? hmm come autosport channel personnel leave racefans alone

  8. So much analysis of his comment. If he says he had no performance, hes making excuses, if hes thanking everyone for his performance then he should stop gushing. If he has his hair different to how you think, its ridiculous, If he hangs out with a US rapper blah blah blah. Its like a gathering of fishwives

    1. Probably at his house. As long as they just remember to do number 2 outside!

  9. Without a sensor system alike nerve system in living beings, it is almost impossible to know when this part was detached from AMG’MB’W10’№44.

  10. Whohis Hairmostgone
    19th March 2019, 13:19

    If this happens to other drivers the story is “not true” and even if it was not true still “own fault for driving over the kerbs”.

    Lewis lost a part of his floor that is also only attached with a very small attachment point (due to the slits) only mere mm’s on one side. This can happen on a first outing on a bumpy track and I am sure will be fortified for next races. They already tried to repair it on sunday morning, there are pics of a heatsource close to it and clamps holding it in place.

  11. Mercedes are not starting to pull a Rosberg on Hamilton are they. Like the did to make sure Rosberg won the World Championship?

    1. they will if the championship is only between bottas and lewis,
      they wont if other teams are a real threat,because they’ll need lewis.

  12. Bruno von Niman
    20th March 2019, 6:06

    HAM will win again, one day.
    But not the WDC.
    Those five are history!

  13. He exploited that well. Now the question is whether his strategy works on Bottas. Bottas has got his win, but the mind games just got started.

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