Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Hamilton reveals how front wing set-up change led to his track limits penalty

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton revealed how a set-up change on his Mercedes caused a handling imbalance which led to his repeated track limits violations early in the Austrian Grand Prix.

He was the first of seven drivers to be penalised for exceeding track limits during today’s race. Hamilton explained he reduced the flap angle on his front wing before the race began in an attempt to improve its rear end balance, but ended up with too much understeer in the final corners.

“We took out a lot of front wing,” said Hamilton in response to a question from RaceFans. “We knew we had a really bad rear end here so we took out a lot of front wing to try and keep that balance so that we could do a long run, go long.

“And we massively under-egged it. I was, like, almost full lock around the last two corners. Going into turn 10, it was just sliding and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
The team adjusted his front wing setting at his first set-up which improved the balance of his car. “Through the stops we then added a lot of wing,” he said. “The car started to slowly come back to at least getting around and staying on-track.”

The majority of drivers were given warnings for exceeding track limits during the race. Hamilton said changes are needed at the Red Bull Ring to prevent so many penalties occuring.

“I think they need to probably find a new solution for this track,” he said. “Years ago when we didn’t have track limits thing the track was much more enjoyable to drive.

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“It’s strange to be driving and have to have to almost comment on the car ahead because that’s what the team have asked you to do. I think they did it in Austin a couple of years ago. That’s not racing, right.”

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Poll: Rate the Race – 2023 Austrian Grand Prix
After he began to receive warnings, Hamilton reported many of his rivals for going too far off-track, including Lando Norris.

“He was going off so much, it was insane,” said Hamilton. “As soon as he got past me he went off like at least 10 times and so did Perez. Perez would go off turn nine, turn 10 and he didn’t get a penalty. So obviously they should just be able to go off and none of us get a penalty.”

Hamilton’s messages about track limits became so insistent that team principal Toto Wolff spoke to him twice on the radio.

Selected radio messages between Hamilton and his team

Bonnington Track limits, exit turn 10.
Bonnington And we now have two tracks limits for exit of turn 10.
Bonnington Okay Lewis we’ll get a penalty. Next track limit will be penalty.
Hamilton Just have a look at those because some of those are bullshit calls.
Hamilton Where am I losing time mostly?
Bonnington Start 13 when you can.
Bonnington To Norris it was mainly the DRS gain that he had.
Bonnington Sainz now the car behind 1.4.
Hamilton Big de-rates.
Bonnington Lewis we have a five-second time penalty for track limits so got to keep it clean from now on.
Hamilton Yeah okay mate.
Hamilton Where was that track limit?
Bonnington They’re all at turn 10, all at turn 10 from what I see.
Hamilton Guy ahead just went off at turn 10.
Bonnington Copy, it’s Perez.
Hamilton They can brake so much later than me.
Hamilton Sainz went off in turn seven, also, mate.
Hamilton Perez completely off at turn nine.
Hamilton Perez completely off at turn 10. Has he got a penalty yet?
Hamilton This guy’s been off every single time. Turn 10, again.
Bonnington It looks like they’re at least 10 laps behind dishing out these penalties. Sainz has one now.
Hamilton Has Perez got a penalty yet?
Hamilton That’s Lando off, nine and 10.
Hamilton Norris off again turn 10 mate.
Hamilton Has anyone else got a penalty?
Wolff Lewis, they’re all going to get penalties in front of you. Keep going.
Hamilton I’ve seen that car [Norris] make turn one once.
Hamilton Is there a reason why the stewards haven’t given those penalties yet?
Bonnington They are still dishing out warnings and penalties.
Wolff Lewis the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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17 comments on “Hamilton reveals how front wing set-up change led to his track limits penalty”

  1. Needs to replace/fire his techno staff (?)

    1. with Roscoe.

  2. Getting basically told by your boss to get on with it is not a good look. I get that understeer didn’t help matters, but I struggle to believe he was the only person out there struggling with handling.

    Though I do get the complaint about the inconsistent application of the white-line rules. Racing drivers are always going to exaggerate, so I don’t take Lewis on his word that Lando went wide 10 times, but I did see a lot more off-track moments than warnings/penalties. Perhaps the stewards were more lenient in the race, but if they were not consistent, that’s a problem.

    1. @wsrgo The rule application was generally consistent in the race, though.

      1. @jerejj Didn’t have a chance to follow onboards live, so if that’s the case, then I retract my statement. From the outside looking in I was convinced that Perez had gone over the white line at least five times.

        1. If you look at the onboards of Lando you can see they were extremely lenient with Lewis. He deserved way more penalties.
          Not impressed by stewarding.

          1. Yes, and bears do () in the woods

  3. He should’ve simply started taking more speed off into the last two corners to be safe.

  4. “Years ago when we didn’t have track limits thing the track was much more enjoyable to drive.”

    You mean the runoffs were more enjoyable to drive? As for finding another solution, they already tried that and the drivers all complained. They could put gravel around the edge of turn 10 but then someone would get hurt and the drivers would blame the track.

    The solution in my opinion would be much stronger penalties. Go off twice and it’s a 5 second penalty. Go off a 3rd time and it’s a drive through. Go off after that and it’s a black flag.

    He wants us to believe it was impossible to stay on the track but that’s just a blatant lie. It was impossible to stay on the track and continue to lap as fast as he was – sure. He could have slowed down and remained on the track easily.

  5. I expected them to add front wing based on his radio messages in the first stint, but I was surprised he was slow. I guess Austria has never been his style of track.

  6. The car isn’t driving by itself. That front wing can’t even reach the steering wheel.

    I suspect the culprit for the penalty might have been in the only seat in the car.

    1. Impossible, never /s

  7. Keep Calm and Carry on

  8. Anyone or anything else’s fault but his

  9. I think it is the cars fault, they need to set it up properly, then they can send it out without a driver.

  10. You guys did actually read this (below) at the start of the article, didn’t you?
    Or did you just read the first two words of the first sentence and then start typing?

    Hamilton explained he reduced the flap angle on his front wing before the race began in an attempt to improve its rear end balance, but ended up with too much understeer in the final corners.

  11. surely the simplest solution is to reduce speed slightly? If the car can’t do it, the car can’t do it. Its not the tracks fault.

Comments are closed.