Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

“Two-millimetre” error with clutch caused Hamilton’s poor start

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said his poor getaway in the Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying race was due to a mistake he made with his clutch.

The Mercedes driver admitted he didn’t optimise his getaway from second on the grid. It allowed his championship rival Max Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers to pass him before they reached the first corner.

Hamilton also came out of the first chicane behind Pierre Gasly, though the AlphaTauri driver crashed at the next corner.

“The start was just broke away traction,” Hamilton explained, “subtle, like two millimetres too deep with the clutch paddle and wheelspin – that’s it.”

Hamilton was heard asking about his poor start on the radio after the Safety Car was deployed on the first lap of the race. “How deep did I go?” he asked. “Two percent” replied race engineer Peter Bonnington. Hamilton apologised to his team for the mistake.

Team principal Toto Wolff said the slip-up was costly for Hamilton’s race. “Between hero and zero on a start, there’s such a fine margin,” he said. “Having too much wheelspin happens, to be honest, and that bit us hard today. But there’s everything to play tomorrow.”

The world champion finished the sprint qualifying race fifth as he was unable to pass the cars which passed him.

“I was being aggressive as I could be,” said Hamilton. “I just couldn’t [pass]. McLarens are the quickest on the straights and I just couldn’t get close enough to then capitalise on a straight line. They were just as fast in the straights, if not faster.”

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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23 comments on ““Two-millimetre” error with clutch caused Hamilton’s poor start”

  1. So everyone else at the front managed that 2 millimetre difference just fine? It was just a potentially costly bad start. Suzuka 2016 comes to mind since it basically cost Hamilton the championship.

    1. Yes, every bad start potentially cost hamilton the championship that year, including monza, so again same track.

    2. Hamilton could have just had a normal qualifying at Baku that year and he would have 8 more points to his name really. I believed Baku was even more because he was silly in qualifying, which is more controllable than his various poor starts because Rosberg also had poor starts.

    3. That year he lost something like 50 points in bad starts in six or seven races
      Still his fans belive he lost the championship only due to the Malesya dnf

    4. Malaysia did.

      1. Here’s a fan I was talking about hahahah

  2. Another dreadful mistake after a season of horrible mistakes (including the comical Baku blunder). Just award the WDC to Max, who despite making plenty of mistakes himself, at least hasn’t thrown away wins, and most of his mistakes were when he had an inferior car.

  3. 2mm sounds a bit too small for reality doesn’t it?! Having said that, there was a great anecdote on the Beyond The Grid podcast recently with Jock Clear, where he talked about the way Villeneuve liked his car setup.

    He explained that most drivers have a throttle peddle depth (how far you can press it) of between 40-50mm. Villeneuve liked his around 25mm!!!

    So it wouldn’t be the first time we see extreme precision in an F1 car!

    1. Interesting, was it the great Gilles or his not-so great son?

      1. Clear was Jacques’ engineer so I’d assume the younger.

    2. @cduk_mugello
      On the other hand if 2mm is 2%, that’s a 10cm total travel on the clutch, which seems quite a lot for a hand clutch, especially if such a small amount makes all the difference. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding how it works.

      1. 2 mm of 10 mm is 20%… =)

        1. Oopsie, my bad, 2 mm of 10 “cm” is indeed 2 %… :-/

  4. With the amount of mistakes Hamilton is making this season, I’m beginning to think Russell is going to destroy him in 2022.

    1. Whats the age diff. It does matter. One is climbing and the other is in twilight zone.
      I know it makes you feel better to put it the way you did!
      Ofcourse Lewis is feeling the pressure and the mistakes will creep in and others will capitalize as they should.
      His chance of WDC this year is close to zero now.

    2. Russell is doing plenty of mistakes himself In 2022 they may be midfield players even having the best machine in the field

    3. That’s a comically bold prediction!@emu55

  5. So will Mercedes modify the clutch pedal to make it 2cm deeper instead to suit him? As we have seen they modify the Brake Magic trigger…

  6. He is making too many mistakes…

    Not seen this many since 2016… it’s still a long season and even if it gets close at the end, everything is looking like a Max first championship.

    Merc have had their challenges this year but between car concept infringements (FIA), strategy foul ups (James), poor performances from the 2nd car (Bottas) and uncharacteristic accidents/mistakes from goat (Hamilton) they won’t be winning either WCC or WDC if it continues.

    Conversely Rbr have had next to no car concept troubles, good strategy calls, Perez still getting to grips with the 2nd car (same troubles Riccardo is having), importantly Max has made far fewer mistakes/poor judgements this year alone and driving a lot more intelligently.

    Rbr at present are more deserving of both titles but points will dictate as always.

  7. I think it was more than that. Coming out of the Rettifilo and going into the Curva Grande, Gasly’s acceleration was significantly better than Hamilton’s…up until the front wing went under Gasly’s car anyway. And throughout the sprint, Lando would always pull away coming out of the corners, so it seems like it was more than just a clutch error at the start.

  8. Always love this typical style of writing on this site. If it had been Verstappen it would probably say: Verstappen can’t handle the pressure and loses out on the start.

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