Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2022

Two-degree temperature rise led to Hamilton’s “difficult position” radio message

2022 F1 Season

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The engine cooling problem which Lewis Hamilton said put him in a “difficult position” during the Australian Grand Prix was caused by a small rise in ambient temperatures.

During the Australian Grand Prix broadcast Hamilton was heard telling his team they had put him in a “difficult position”. It later emerged he was referring to rising temperatures in his car, as he had been told too alter his driving to increase cooling.

Hamilton’s race engineer, Pete Bonnington, first told his driver he needed to “lift and coast” to bring his temperatures down with around 10 laps of the race remaining.

Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles said that the message was related to managing the temperature of the internal combustion engine in Hamilton’s car.

“That was all about engine cooling and keeping the power unit cool during the course of the race,” said Vowles in a video published by Mercedes. “We push everything to the limit, as you would imagine, and one of those is engine cooling, and you do that by closing up the bodywork or changing the louvre design at the back of the car.”

Formula 1 team have to commit to their preferred cooling arrangement well in advance of the race, leaving them at the mercy of the weather forecast, said Vowles.

“That decision is made on Saturday but obviously we are racing on Sunday, 24 hours later, and in this particular circumstance the ambient was one, maybe two degrees warmer than we had expected and as a result of that ourselves – and not just ourselves, you would have heard it from teams up and down the grid – were right on the limit of what the engine and the power unit can take in terms of cooling requirements.”

“During the course of the race, when you are following a car it meant that Lewis had to compromise what he was doing,” Vowles explained. “He had to move out of the dirty air of the car in front of him and make sure he got cool, clean air through the radiators to drop the PU temperatures down but doing that makes racing the car in front incredibly difficult and that’s why his message came out.”

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Hamilton’s radio messages from the end of the Australian Grand Prix

Lap Speaker Comment
46 Hamilton I’ve got a left-front blister.
46 Bonnington Yeah, copy, we’ve seen it, don’t think it’s a problem.
47 Bonnington George a 22.5.
48 Bonnington so Lewis we need to introduce a small amount of lift-and-coast for PU temps. Tyres are good to the end.
48 Hamilton [unclear]
49 Bonnington Lewis, if you’re talking about fastest lap, we don’t think we’ll be able to achieve it.
49 Bonnington George is 21.9 last lap, 21.9.
50 Bonnington George 22.2.
51 Bonnington Perez had a lock up into turn 13 and he’s now doing 22.4.
52 Bonnington George a 22.0.
52 Bonnington A little more for PU temps. lift-and-coast
53 Hamilton You guys put me in a really difficult position.
55 Bonnington And we have Alonso ahead of George who is traffic.
57 Bonnington So one more lap.
58 Bonnington So go strat mode one.
58 Bonnington Well done today mate it’s P4. You just lucked out on the Safety Car.

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2022 F1 season

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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22 comments on “Two-degree temperature rise led to Hamilton’s “difficult position” radio message”

  1. Still attribution. He is the one who has to manage the car with the information he receives as support.
    It’s time he takes full responsibility for his own actions and not hide behind these kind of attribution behaviour.

    1. with the information he receives as support.

      We really can’t blame Lewis for this.

      You, for example, have all the information (radio message transcripts) above to come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong in the radio exchange between Hamilton and Mercedes. But you prefer to blame Lewis for whatever you choose he’s wrong…

      1. With this logic, i wonder why she didn’t say Max should be the one who has to Manage his car before it went pop.

      2. Its just the usual orange erika. Maybe still down that her paperchamp was unable to manage his car. ;-)

  2. So did Russel have the same issue? Driving the same car around the same track, one would imagine so?

    1. Russel did not have the same issue, as he was not closely following another car at that time. Merc were much slower that the cars ahead, so there was a gap in front of GR. If the safety car timing had come out differently, with GR closely following LH, then we might have seen GR have the problem. The cars were not the same though, LH had extra sensors, making the car heavier. Bad luck for LH, but good luck for the team to get 3rd and 4th, much better than the car deserved.
      LH wanted to attack (he’s a racing driver BTW), but the engineer was telling him to lift and coast, putting him in a “difficult position”.

      1. Extra sensors ? Heavier car because of that ?

        1. That was reported before the qualifying – but as it turns out, there was very little difference between the cars in the end, with other variables evening things out. So the cars ended up within a few grams of each other – nothing to make a difference.

        2. There’s also this explanation with actual pictures of the actual sensor on car 44.

        3. These things require instalation and wiring, you know.

  3. I actually thought he was whining for them to let him pass russel after being unable to beat his teammate.

    1. ” I actually thought he was whining for them to let him pass russel after being unable to beat his teammate.” His technical acumen leaves something to be desired ….

    2. Yeah and you thought wrong like so many others who jumped to the same conclusion. Some like erikje above are unable to change their position even after being presented with the facts.

  4. Looks like Liberty took Netflix´s same path, broadcasting bits of radio message without proper context to thrill up the race.

    1. @becken-lima Yeah, when I heard the comment on the live feed I thought it was in relation to Lewis wanting to be released from behind Russell, and since he wasn’t exactly hovering over George’s gearbox it came across as a bit entitled and ‘whiny’.

      We know now that he was talking about something completely different. It wouldn’t have been difficult to have added the context around the remark to the feed. The problem is that all the people I know who are now watching F1 and the vast majority of people around the world who watch F1 aren’t reading articles like these, they watch on a Sunday, and take the comment as it was presented at the time.

      It must be a genuine concern for drivers even outside of Drive to Survive how they’re presented to the masses.

      *Lewis does moan quite a bit though, just not in this instance.

    2. That’s not new. But still, ev8in context it’s a remarkable remark.
      The made up reason does not really fits.

      1. Yes, but making things up has never stopped you in the past. :)

    3. Yep, context is everything! Nothing to see here really. It sounded a little controversial during the race but this sure clears it up.

    4. Liberty don’t know the context at that stage either.

  5. I don’t see the point of some of these rules which require things to be set in advance of the actual race. I can see the point of the parc ferme rules to prevent teams replacing engine parts etc, as they have a cost implication and help level up the playing field, but I don’t see the point of locking in the aero settings as described in this example. I feel F1 should be about engineering and driving, not about guessing the weather conditions on race day.

    1. There are rules banning movable aero parts (excepting DRS), and active suspension etc. The brake balance, diff settings, energy recovery, and maybe a few other things can be adjusted by the driver during a race. The driver can’t change the engine mode any more, but they can change the amount of battery charge/use, and there’s a ‘boost’ button.
      Front wing angle can be adjusted in a pitstop. I think rear wing angle is only changed by replacing the rear wing, so that can’t be done at a pitstop. In the past there were things like ‘F duct’ which are now banned too. F1 engineers will always push the regs as far as they can, and sometimes just a little bit more…
      All this banning of ‘driver aids’ was done so the driver is driving the car, not a computer. It’s taken a while to get the regs into this state, and you can’t please everyone.

  6. Very interesting

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