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Software glitch costs Hamilton dear

NEWS STORY
25/03/2018

While a so-called 'party mode' on the Mercedes engine helped Lewis Hamilton to a stunning pole in yesterday's qualifying session, the Briton and his team were left feeling somewhat flat following today's Australian Grand Prix after a software glitch cost the world champion almost certain victory.

The Briton was comfortably leading the race and had just pitted in reaction to Kimi Raikkonen's stop when Romain Grosjean became the second Haas driver in as many laps to suffer a loose wheel following his sole pit stop.

The Frenchman parked the car by the side of the track necessitating the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) at which point Sebastian Vettel and a number of other drivers promptly pitted.

Ahead of his stop, though leading, Vettel normally would have emerged behind Hamilton or even Raikkonen. However, under the VSC rules, which limit the speed of the cars on the track, the speed limit is higher in the pitlane which means that, combined with the fact the pitlane follows a shorter route than the track, allowed Vettel to maintain his lead, the German seemingly as surprised as anyone to find himself still ahead of the Mercedes driver, though Ricciardo and Alonso, who also pitted under the VSC, similarly gained advantages.

"What's up guys," asked an incredulous Hamilton. "Was it my mistake, was I meant to be going quick?"

"Negative," came the reply.

"Lewis, we thought we were safe but there's obviously something wrong," Hamilton was told in a follow-up communication.

"I think we have a software issue with the VSC delta," team boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports after the race. "We always had the green light that the gap is enough for us to stay ahead. And then we saw the TV pictures and it wasn't enough.

"We got punched in the face today and we got punched in the face yesterday," added the Austrian, referring to Valtteri Bottas' Q3 crash.

"I was told the Ferrari was coming out of the pit-lane, I didn't know the Ferrari was in," Hamilton later told reporters.

Asked how he felt to suddenly realise that Vettel had taken the lead, the Briton admitted: "I think, just disbelief from that moment until... just disbelief."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Melbourne, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Cobra Racer, 26/03/2018 11:48

"So we are now at a point in F1 competition where a software glitch can determine the outcome of the race. Who is it that keeps suggesting that we return to the days when the quality of the car and expertise of the driver determined the winner? Oh, that would be me.
"

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2. Posted by Kent, 26/03/2018 9:01

"Hamilton doesn't win a race and out come the conspiracy theories.
1 I'm sure Gene Haas would have readily agreed to give up a hatful of points for his team and potentially a wad of cash at seasons end to help out Ferrari in the first race of the season.
2 I can just picture Guenther Steiner saying to his pit stop crew "Look I know we're running 4th and 5th and in for our best overall result ever, but we want to help Ferrari so I want you to deliberately cross thread the wheel nuts on both cars, OK."
3 It would have taken more than genius to work out how that safety car scenario would pan out."

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3. Posted by Noushki, 26/03/2018 8:28

"Well said Pete. It's just like when Merc got Kevin Magnussen to crash at Spa 2016 so Lewis could gain during the red flag!"

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4. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 26/03/2018 8:24

"Well, at least it's progress for Mercedes. Their software error rather than their driver.
"

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5. Posted by Vinodh Moodley, 25/03/2018 18:29

"Nelson Piquet Jr: after that, anything is possible"

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6. Posted by Greg, 25/03/2018 18:03

"@pete. I think a little to much conspiracy theory. Shut hapoens in a race. Mercedes had a software error and that was that."

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7. Posted by Pete, 25/03/2018 14:38

"How very convenient for Ferrari's best friends Haas to cause a VSC at the only time that Vetell could "jump" Lewis. This makes a complete joke of the rules and also prompts the question, "did Haas do this on purpose under Ferrari's request"?????"

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