Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

“No evidence” Hamilton’s seat was broken in Bahrain – Mercedes

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In the round-up: Mercedes are satisfied that Lewis Hamilton’s seat was not broken in Bahrain following his radio messages during the race.

In brief

“No evidence” Hamilton’s seat was broken in Bahrain

Hamilton was heard complaining his seat was “broken” during the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend but Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, says there was “no evidence” of anything wrong with his seat after inspection.

“We obviously got the car back, checked the seat straight away, and the seat was fine,” Shovlin said in a video published by the team.

“The seats are obviously designed to be able to be lifted out because in the event of an accident, the driver comes out in his seat. And ultimately, the thing that holds the seat in the car is the driver who’s strapped into his seat belts.

“The only thing we can think is that if Lewis was ever so slightly loose, he moved a bit and maybe the seat came up, had a little bit of motion and dropped down again, because looking at it afterwards, there’s no evidence that anything’s broken, that it was in the wrong position.”

Tsunoda must “improve” on radio anger

After his fourth Formula 1 season began with another angry outburst at the end of last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, RB driver Yuki Tsunoda admits that he needs to control his emotions better if he is to have a chance of moving to Red Bull in the future.

“It’s the thing I have to improve for sure,” Tsunoda admitted. “If I do those things again, for sure, it will be more issues. I know these are things I have to improve mainly. So I’m working on it.

“It’s up to them if they want me or not, I think, for the rest of the things. But yeah, mainly focusing on those self-controllers. Other than that, I have pretty good confidence. I’m achieving most of it and I just keep improving.”

Aston Martin demo AMR22 in Riyadh

Aston Martin ambassador Jessica Hawkins ran the first public demonstration of a modern ground effect Formula 1 car at in Riyadh ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Teams are permitted to run 2022-spec cars privately for the first time in 2024. Hawkins drove Aston Martin’s AMR22 as part of a series of events honouring International Women’s Day on Friday.

“Since I drove the F1 car in Hungary last year, I have been contacted by lots of women and girls around the world asking how they can get involved,” Hawkins said. “Ahead of International Womens’ Day, it is vital to be seen and hopefully that will encourage more females to get involved.”

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Comment of the day

With some drivers complaining that the dirty air effect was a greater problem in Bahrain, PeterG believes it is an inevitability…

This was always going to happen because unless you have a completely spec ruleset that prevents teams from doing anything to the spec design you are always going to get teams coming up with ways to claw back downforce by not only evolving the areas that were left open to them but also finding things like loop holes to do things that weren’t expected by the FIA.

They could outlaw all of the things teams have found since 2022 which makes following harder and within a few months (if that) teams will have already found ways to counteract those losses. It’s just what F1 is, always has been and always will/should be.

Same will happen in 2026. They will have probably an even more restrictive set of regulations as well as all this active aero stuff and they will go on and on about how close the field is, How close cars can follow and how we have a million passes as a result and by year two we will be back where they were before.

Happy birthday!

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On this day in motorsport

  • 20 years ago today Michael Schumacher dominated the first race of the new season for Ferrari, leading a one-two with Rubens Barrichello in Melbourne

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36 comments on ““No evidence” Hamilton’s seat was broken in Bahrain – Mercedes”

  1. An Sionnach
    7th March 2024, 0:02

    Lewis says a lot of things. His battery was depleted too… because he used it.

    1. An Sionnach
      7th March 2024, 0:05

      A lot of things are said in the heat of battle and potentially urgent issues need to be dealt with as soon as possible. What was funny, though, was the Sky people tiptoeing around these things and everything Lewis-related.

      1. What I find interesting is that I would believe that a broken seat would be regarded as unsafe given its importance in the safety of the driver and their removal from the vehicle in the event of an accident. When Lewis broadcasts over team radio “my seat is broken” (not I think it’s broken) doesn’t race control feel the need to intervene on safety grounds? Are you risking getting a black flag?

        1. QOTD right here. Why doesnt race control intervene with a safety issue? The media should ask this of the powers that be this weeked.

        2. A few years ago at Baku Hamilton’s top screwed in panel (above the drivers arms, forget the term) really did come loose and he was reaching out of the cockpit attempting to get it locked back in place. You could see it raising up and down at speed. The stewards only took a few laps to force his Mercedes into the pits to replace that piece (from the lead IIRC). I believe it was the race that Vettel rear-ended him during the SC and it broke afterwards. Merc said it had nothing to do with the collision though. I was surprised they didn’t call him into the pits last week too, but maybe he realized pretty quickly it wasn’t broken. Hamilton has raced so many laps that it’s hard to not believe him about damage/car issues (except for tire wear but I think those were coded messages for a long time lol).

          1. An Sionnach
            8th March 2024, 22:31

            I think Lewis has a sense of urgency/panic when there’s a potential issue. With the seat it might be best to leave him out and inspect it afterwards. If it was really bad he’d come in himself.

            I can’t believe Yuki wasn’t sanctioned for his aggressive driving after the last race. Anyone know the regulations here? A race ban would seem appropriate.

  2. Brawn always knew the teams would claw back performance and dirty air would re-emerge.

    They were saying F1 would have to keep an eye on the regulations and continue to restrict those aero developments which were most troublesome. None of this is a surprise.

    But where is Brawn now? Where is the ethos which were the 2021(/2) regulations.

    F1 has no long-term steward and a long term steward is exactly what’s needed if regulations are to adapt over a matter of decades in a sensible manner.

    Regardless, that drivers are complaining about “comfort” can mean two things; they shouldn’t expect it to be comfortable, or F1 went the wrong path with ground-effect and should have gone down active suspension instead to achieve non-outwash-sensitive performance.

    1. But where is Brawn now?

      Brawn left during the 2022 season, and these regulations were doomed the second the teams figured out they could say ‘safety safety!’ and force a ride height unto other teams that had their suspension figured out better. Forcing everyone to run high is perfect for teams who can’t work out how to get the car low without bouncing around on the tarmac. Never mind that it moves the balance of over/underbody downforce back in the completely opposite direction from what was intended.

      And just to emphasize how great an idea it was to let Liberty draft the regulations, they’ve replaced Brawn with… ehm, you know… and they’ve reacted to the unintended developments that undermine the concept by… ehm… so… anyone excited for Miami!?

      1. MichaelN,
        Marchionne (RIP), the sole force opposing Liberty’s plans, remarked in 2017 that he couldn’t comprehend how someone like Brawn was going against the essence of the sport. He even went as far as to threaten pulling Ferrari out of F1 if Liberty pursued the standardization route.

        It was predictable for an old fox like Marchionne to foresee the failure of the rules. The issue lies with the astute Binotto, who signed the rules on behalf of Ferrari. He have just secured a top job outside F1 btw.

        1. Losing Marchionne was very unfortunate. Elkann seems like a nice enough guy, but the Binotto pick was a clear mistake.

          Now with the engine frozen and the 2026 rules being more prescriptive and confined than ever, F1 seems rudderless. Anyone who looks at F1’s modern history and thinks that the best path forward is:

          – less chassis engineering
          – less engine engineering
          – less tyre engineering
          – more aerodynamics!!!

          Well… I guess they’re a great candidate fora a job at Liberty.

          Not so great for the fans, though.

          1. MichaelN,
            I couldn’t agree more ! The fact that Pirelli still hasn’t reached the level achieved by Bridgestone in 2010 speaks volumes about the current state of the sport.

            Back then, drivers were able to push when needed, There were limitations such as fuel, engine, and brakes…that prevented the drivers from pushing for the entire race but these didn’t include the tyres. A prime example is Vettel’s performance at Monza in 2010, racing the entire race on a single set of soft tyres and only pitting in the penultimate lap.

            Moreover, teams had the freedom to swap tyres between sessions and play with pressure and camber adjustments something that is banned nowadays…

          2. The fact that Pirelli still hasn’t reached the level achieved by Bridgestone in 2010 speaks volumes about the current state of the sport.

            How is this still an argument? The 2010 cars were nothing like the current ones, nor was there a target letter for Bridgestone to make tyres to. Apples and oranges.

            If anyone at FOM wanted Pirelli to make what were effectively endurance tyres as Bridgestone were doing, they’d say so via a new target letter. Then the drivers and teams would endlessly complain that the ‘new’ tyres are too hard and slow and don’t feel nice until they get some new softer ones with the same subjective downsides the current tyres face.
            Taking a lot of data acquisition away from the teams would also help – they didn’t know half as much about the tyres back then as they do now, nor how to maximise their performance the entire time they are bolted to the car.

          3. S,
            Can you name another motorsport series with guidelines on tire swap between sessions, camber adjustments, and tire pressure like F1 ? Also, who asked Pirelli to produce such rubbish wet weather tyres ?

        2. The issue lies with the astute Binotto,

          Living up to your name, always someone to blame, and usually the outgoing TP.

          In fact, Binoto was very vocal about Ferrari requiring design and manufacturing to be a competitive element of F1.

          However Red Bull managed to get the teams to agree to an engine freeze otherwise is a complete mystery.

          1. Tristan,
            I’ve been critical of Binotto since his time as Team Principal, not because I want to fault him now that he’s left the team. That’s not my style. However, the problem is that I can’t easily navigate through old comments because the Activity tag was removed, and I’m unsure why. Perhaps @Keith Collantine can shed some light on this.

            Regardless, many here who follow Ferrari are already aware of my past criticism of Binotto. While he’s undoubtedly a great technician, he proved to be a less-than-adequate Team Principal.

          2. Tristan,
            Binotto also bragged about Ferrari making concessions like dropping the MGU-H in order for other manufacturers to join the sport. I’m not speaking in hindsight, but it’s not that hard to figure out which team is going to dominate in a formula where the PUs are frozen :

          3. In fact, Binoto was very vocal about Ferrari requiring design and manufacturing to be a competitive element of F1.

            However Red Bull managed to get the teams to agree to an engine freeze otherwise is a complete mystery.

            Red Bull is not some force of nature. Those other teams include Ferrari, so it doesn’t really matter what Binotto said. He didn’t have what it takes to leverage Ferrari’s enormous value for F1 to advance its interests, and thus failed to do his job. He should have been sacked there and then, not after 2022.

            Remember: Binotto staged a bit of a coup after Marchionne’s death, forcing the new leadership to chose between appointing him team principal or losing him as a designer. Something he admitted to, and quite smugly to boot (though that might be a personal interpretation on my part). He wanted to be a leader. He had a chance to show that he was up to the job. He wasn’t.

    2. Brawn dodged the bullet of having to take public responsibility for the poor on-track product that F1 continues to be now and into the future.
      See, he really is a smart guy after all.

      And just on the active suspension thing – that’s just as bad as excessive aero for the racing product. And it wouldn’t make up for the negative aero effects anyway. It’s not magic – it just means there’s even less for the driver to think about and have control over.
      F1 has been proving for decades that the less driver-focused a racing series is, the lower the quality of the on-track product.

  3. I was hoping for more from Yuki.

    1. As in F1 career or from this incident? Racing on the in-lap (and by consequence of doing so poorly, driving dangerously) was really disappointing and definitely hope for more from any F1 driver, I’m surprised he didn’t get some form of reprimand either from the team or the FIA. As for his career, I don’t think I could have hoped for more given his F2 performance.

      He was 3rd to Schumacher and people are more than happy to write him off after being given no chance in a falling apart Haas.

      1. Tristan I’m also surprised he didn’t receive any form of reprimand (or even a penalty, be that disqualification or a grid drop for the next race), especially from FIA.

  4. When I heard that the seat was broken I figured HAM had to pit the next time by because it is a safety issue. I was shocked when he stayed out. So is the team just covering for the fact that it wasn’t fixed during the race by saying it wasn’t broken? HAM’s been driving for quite some time and should know if the seat is broken.

    1. First race first time flat out on heavy fuel for a sustained time and that car was seriously stanced. Way more sparks than anyone else. The seat was probably bouncing off the mount and he thought it was broken. It’s interesting to read that the only thing keeping the seat down are the seatbelts and the drivers’ soft tissues. But that’s how it has to be for a quick-removal.

    2. Sometimes people don’t say what they mean, especially over team radio.

    3. is the team just covering for the fact that it wasn’t fixed during the race by saying it wasn’t broken?

      Concocting a conspiracy of a team trying to hide a broken seat rather than believe a driver could be wrong is wild.

  5. It’s no conspiracy to think a team would want to hide something that would get them DSQ’d. This is how they play F1 these days.
    Anyway, it was posed as a question – not an accusation backed up by hard evidence.

    The FIA should have taken immediate action on Hamilton’s concern about the safety of the seat when he said it. If it really was broken and he’d had a crash….

  6. So basically, he falsely thought the seat had broken.

    Tsunoda has had more than enough time to improve on radio anger since 2021.

    BBC: The 15mm raise for last year was already enough.

    Unfortunately, the thing is indeed as COTD describes & will remain that way as long as engineers aren’t limited the same way as in a spec series.

  7. Completely unrelated but… what happened to Claire Cottingham? I feel it’s long time ago that she doesn’t write articles here, and there was no Paddock Diary. What happened?

    1. notagrumpyfan
      7th March 2024, 8:54

      You can find her latest articles here.
      And interestingly also Hazel Southwell and Ida Wood are not contributing anymore, nor are they listed in the about tab (but interestingly Ben Evens is).
      Motorsport journalism still seems to run behind on inclusiveness;

        1. Anthony Tellier
          7th March 2024, 18:23

          “Road and Track”?

          1. I was thinking more like lower categories like scouting for talent, a Formulascout dot etc
            Or a diverse and inclusive Racingpride with usual dot etc.

      1. As far as I know, Hazel has been bouncing around trying to find a way to earn a living in motorsport journalism, but failing.

        For all we know, Racefans may have helped out the best they could, but perhaps could not provide a full salary. And we don’t know the statistics for her articles. Perhaps they just didn’t connect with the audience enough. Racefans can’t live on air either.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          7th March 2024, 11:31

          I would’ve given them a proper thank-you/farewell though.

  8. ‘ESPN averaged 1.12 million viewers for the season-opening F1 race from Bahrain on Saturday morning. That is the least-watched F1 opener since 2021, when ESPN2 had 879,000 viewers for Bahrain on a Sunday morning. Last year’s race drew 1.32 million viewers, also on a Sunday morning. ‘

    Hands up if you also know people who looked for the F1 race on Sunday, only to find highlights from Saturday.
    Not everyone watches all sessions, or follows the news as closely as most fans … but F1 did a poor job of getting the word out to everyone that we are looking at Thurs to Sat race weekend at the beginning of the 2024 season.
    Nett result is an obvious loss of casual viewers.

    1. That also took me by surprise. In fact I almost missed qualifying and was lucky to have tagged it in Hulu. Could account for some of the ratings drop.

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