Mercedes: Lost ‘wouvre panel’ cost Hamilton seven seconds

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The damage Lewis Hamilton sustained in his first-lap collision with Max Verstappen cost him around seven seconds over the race distance Mercedes believes.

Hamilton’s car lost a part of the floor which Mercedes calls a ‘wouvre panel’ when the pair made contact approaching turn two.

“When Lewis and Verstappen tangled at the start there was actually a reasonable amount of damage to Lewis’s car in the subsequent collision,” explained technical director James Allison in a team video.

“If you watch the race footage carefully, you’ll just see a strip of bodywork flying up past the camera. That strip of bodywork was a piece of Lewis’s floor disappearing from the scene.

“That strip of bodywork is a thing we call the wouvre panel and it runs down the outside edge of the floor. There was also a little bit of damage to the front wing endplate and these two things combined to give Lewis a loss of aerodynamic downforce equivalent to about 0.1 of a second per lap.

“It might not sound a lot but if you remember that the race is 70 laps long, then over the course of that entire race, that’s worth about seven seconds. Remembering that at the end of the race Lewis was less than two seconds in front of Vettel, you can see that those seven seconds are a meaningful amount.”

Hamilton asked on the radio if his car had been damaged in the collision with Verstappen, but was told the contact was largely “wheel-to-wheel”.

Despite the damage Hamilton jumped ahead of Sebastian Vettel to take the lead of the race, which he won. “It adds emphasis to the fact this was a very fine, very controlled drive that Lewis put in on Sunday, able to stay ahead of the Ferrari, showing good pace and good consistency despite carrying that damage throughout,” Allison added.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

28 comments on “Mercedes: Lost ‘wouvre panel’ cost Hamilton seven seconds”

  1. That was a championship drive Lewis produced on Sunday.

    1. No doubt, but exactly this claim and statement are a bit… well, they might not be entirely applicable to the actual race.

      1. exactly, Lewis would have reacted differently had anyone been closer to him at the end.

        and boo fricking hoo, it cost Max a little bit more than 7s over the course of the race.

  2. I love Mercedes and Lewis, but I am always skeptical of such statements… we lost this amount, we lost that amount…

    We can always ask – compared to what?
    Some hypothetical, “maximal” pace for given fuel load and projected tyre wear at some moment in race?
    Yeah… very precise.

    During the race Lewis really pushed only during the laps between his and Vettel’s pitstop, before that he just stayed in touch with “leaders” several seconds behind not to damage his tyres too much, after – he cruised in front at speed to stay out of immediate attack and not to damage his tyres too much…

    1. @dallein, Sadly your summation is entirely accurate, such is F1 now, The World Tyre Management Championship.

      1. Essentially, yes. Which is why suspension is so important. I would not be surpirsed if the top teams have figures some “passive” system replicating active suspension, but the lower teams cant afford the development costs. Speculation only of course.

      2. @hohum Who was it that said something along the lines of “You try to win as slowly as possible?” It’s not a new phenomena, managing the resource available to you while maintaining success. I would say it is intrinsic to F1 and other high intensity sporting activities.

        1. @psynrg, I don’t suppose he was the 1st but Jack Brabham definitely said it in the 1960’s, the issue then was saving the engines which had no rev-limiters other than the drivers right foot.

          1. @hohum Thanks for associating the paraphrase with Jack Brabham.

            I honestly don’t see the application as much different. Be it engine conservation (and there is some of that today) or tyres. Driving smart is critical to repeat success, regardless of which component is critical. Tyres, engine or track position?

            I get as much enjoyment witnessing the application of smart race craft, as I do a fierce battle. Lewis can and will deliver on both in equal measure, almost every time.

    2. If the static one lap loss would be .1s, I think Mercedes undercounted the total loss. A loss of downforce and/or balance is going to have a larger effect because it pushes up as well as bends upward the tire wear curve.

  3. First thing he checked after hopping out of the car was that panel. Amazing how the drivers can feel what parts are damaged.

    Will be very curious to see what kind of performance impact there is from floorboard damage once F1 transitions to rely more on the underside for downforce.

    1. I would think he well felt the contact between he and Max so of course knew where to look.

      As to 2021 floorboard work, it’s hard to know how much of a floorboard there will be that is similar to now, but we do know that there will be tunnels under the car creating ground effects downforce rather than a flat floor and it is hard to imagine the tunnels getting damaged in a similar collision to that like LH and Max had.

      1. @robbie – although, there is the possibility that debris might get lodged in the tunnel, which could impact the aerodynamics.

        So anyone driving over debris is at risk, not just to the tyres but also the undertray. And anyone deciding to mow the grass might also be similarly afflicted.

  4. In reality it wouldnt be that simple. Hamilton spent a lot of time beind Albon and then Vettle and would have been I think its from Lap 23 where he was in relatively clean air that you can start to take that 0.1 seconds off so lets say around 4.6/7 seconds lost throughout the race.

    Not great but certainly not a game changer I dont think.

    1. Your missing the point, if the cars natural speed is affected in a asymetrical way, tyre wear increases asymetricly, the driver has to adjust his driving style. However you cut it, its a negative.
      7 seconds was only the singular aerodynmic loss, the total loss was bigger.

  5. Sounds like Jonathan Ross saying “roofer”….

  6. Meanwhile,at Red Bull….”Oh we call ours the Doover panel”

  7. You have to go way back in time to see cars without this detailed edge on the floor.

    The loss was certainly meaningful.

  8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    30th October 2019, 0:08

    I guess it is because Hamilton is in a top car, but the amount of articles created if he has a tiny fraction of his car missing seems to be adding up. There seems to be little mention of Grosjean getting damage on the first lap and trailing home finishing well behind a Williams. Similar when lots of other drivers suffer damage, they don’t seem to get mentioned as much. I bet that Grosjean’s damage cost him a bit more than 7 seconds. This number is surely total guesswork anyway.

    1. Maybe because he didn’t won the race, i guess.

    2. Hamilton is the far favorite world champion contender, obviously there will be more articles covering him. Especially on a race course he wasn’t expected to win on the back of a resurgent Ferrari team (well in raw power anyways, execution they have issues).

      Personally I’m okay with articles talking about his car condition in a race, although I would agree if we are talking about, you know, maybe how his burgers taste.

    3. There might be more articles like this if other teams would produce debrief videos like Mercedes.

    4. Maybe because any Ham article will result in 100+ responses, whilst a Grosjean article would be lucky to get 2?

      I would imagine Keith is as surprised as anyone that a plethora of posters (that includes you for one) are so interested in Hamilton’s views on plant based diets, fashion, gender politics, etc, that you are 10 times more likely to respond to those articles than a F1 specific story about another driver of say Grosjeans standing.

    5. Hamilton getting damage is news, Grosjean getting damage is a typical day

  9. Yet before the GP, Hamilton said there was “no hope” for Mercedes :)

  10. Yep Lewis, it is not smart to push somebody of the track.

  11. Why is this an article? It could be 3, 4, 10 seconds. How can any of us refute it? Has F1 become that boring?

Comments are closed.