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Mercedes explains Hamilton's restart nightmare

NEWS STORY
10/06/2021

Mercedes technology director, Mike Elliott has given insight into what went wrong at the restart last Sunday, when a mistake by Lewis Hamilton cost the Briton a certain podium and the championship lead.

With title rival, Max Verstappen sidelined by a high-profile blow-out, as the cars lined up on the grid for the restart, things were looking pretty good for Lewis Hamilton who was alongside Sergio Perez.

Getting the jump on the Mexican, Hamilton appeared to have turned the title race on its head, however, as the field prepared to turn into the left-hander that is Turn 1, Hamilton, smoke billowing from his locked-up tyres went straight on, heading into the escape road.

While there were initial fears that his off was connected to the smoke seen rising from his brakes at the restart, it was subsequently revealed that the world champion had accidentally flicked a switch.

"We're not actually allowed to talk to the drivers, so we can't talk them through the settings they need to change," explains Mercedes technology director, Mike Elliott. "So as a result of that, we try and simplify things as much as we possibly can. We try and produce tools the drivers can use, that reduces the workload they have to go through because there's a huge amount for them to do.

"One of the buttons we've got, what's called brake magic, to be honest, I don't know why we call it brake magic," he admits, "is a button that the drivers can press and that allows them to get heat into the brakes.

"One of the big things it does is it moves the brake balance, so the proportion of the front brake energy to the rear brake energy all the way as far forward as we can get it. That allows us to put heat into the front brakes, and therefore heat into the rims and into the tyres.

"Lewis had done all of the right things, he'd got the car to the grid, he'd switched off the various buttons and settings he needed to switch off, switched on the ones he needed to switch on, and he was all set to start the race properly.

"He made a fantastic start, he got himself up alongside Perez, and as he and Perez were sort of shuffling position Lewis swerved. In the process of swerving, he just clipped the magic button.

"Unfortunately, he didn't feel he had done it," admits Elliot, "so he had completely no awareness he was going to have a problem. At the point he then braked, which was the normal point for him to brake, he was in a position where he got all of the brake balance shifted forward. As a consequence, they locked, and from that point, there was nothing he could do but go wide."

Confirming that the German team will now look into how it can avoid any repeats, Elliot cleared up any confusion as to why Hamilton's brakes were smoking so heavily ahead of the restart.

"The drivers are trying to get the tyres in the optimal window for the start trying to do lots of other things on that lap to the grid, but in trying to get the tyres to the optimal state what they need to do is to put heat into them.

"On the rears, it's relatively easy, the drivers spin the wheels up and therefore they put surface temperature in that way. On the fronts the driver will weave, or he will put heat in from the brakes.

"So Lewis was trying to maximise the heat he's pushing into the room from the brakes, and that caused them to get hot enough that they smoked."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Editor, 13/06/2021 11:28

"@ jcr

Bradley Lord was on standby in case an official denial that you'd made a mistake was required."

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2. Posted by jcr, 13/06/2021 11:22

"Editor,
Well spotted"

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3. Posted by Editor, 12/06/2021 20:02

"@ jcr

Hmmm... a, ahem, "computer glitch", or did your finger inadvertently hit the wrong button?"

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4. Posted by jcr, 12/06/2021 19:15

"Sorry- Computer glitch on last post"

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5. Posted by jcr, 12/06/2021 19:12

"In a Sport where People are operating and concentrating at speeds in excess of 300Kph, it is (in my opinion) rediculous to have a switch that can be activated by accident. In a lot of circumstances this could amount to an instant death penalty. OK this happened in a start situation, but IF ??? it was activated by accident, Then it could just as easily happen flat out at Monza or Spa.

it is far more likely that Hamilton simply forgot to switch it off after the warm up lap. They have already said the cant give instructions to the driver at the start









I"

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6. Posted by Greg, 12/06/2021 10:52

"Simplistic viewpoint i know. Make the steering wheels less complex.. let the drivers drive instead of learning so many different settings for different situations. Drive the car not guide the computer "

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7. Posted by Wokingchap, 12/06/2021 10:48

"Then just program that button so it has to be pressed twice to activate ..... can someone disagree with that too or is that a problem?"

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8. Posted by kenji, 12/06/2021 1:04

"@ F1 Yank...Exactly so. Making mistakes is a fact of life and we all make them, some worse that others. Hirohito made a massive mistake at Pearl Harbour, that's a perfect example. The fact is that everyone is at pains to avoid pointing to the obvious. Wolff is a perfect example of that and now when someone is rocking the good ship Mercedes they press the panic button [ another one, this time located on the TP's desk! ] Past smugness is not pretty and when the ' merde' hits the fan it shows. I do however believe that these temporary setbacks will invoke a forceful response so, based on the past, I fully expect full service to be restored at Paul Ricard.

]"

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9. Posted by F1 Yank, 11/06/2021 21:24

"Sorry Wokingchap, VC10-1103, Spindoctor. I do not agree and adding warnings would be a driver's aid. Instead of adding a failsafe, how about more practice/training? Let the drivers actually drive the car. When you get into your car, you adjust the seat, mirrors and buckle yourself in, these guys have their standing start protocol. In this case a mistake was made, that is part of racing. "

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10. Posted by Spindoctor, 11/06/2021 13:01

"Hamilton made an error, which he acknowledged immediately "I'm sorry guys..." etc.
This very rare incident has shown both Lewis & Mecedes that they could improve their systems by having some form of warning\interlock which would more forcefully alert drivers in future."

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11. Posted by VC10-1103, 11/06/2021 11:12

"The simple warning would be an aural tone in his earphones"

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12. Posted by Wokingchap, 11/06/2021 9:58

"Even my coffee machine has an illuminated power on button...whats so difficult? IF it's on the rear then an on screen warning is ok. It should be almost impossible to inadvertently activate ANY mode by whatever means.
"

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13. Posted by equator180, 11/06/2021 5:21

"The long and short of it is Sir Hamilton screwed up and you can put all the lipstick on it you want but it won't change anything........."

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14. Posted by kenji, 11/06/2021 1:59

"@Wokingchap....Sorry but you have missed the point My belief is that the magic button was located on the left side rear of the steering wheel? If correct then no amount of warning signals, of a visual nature, would be of any use.

@ F1 Yank. You are quite correct in your assumption. Costly brain fade."

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15. Posted by C5, 10/06/2021 21:57

"@Workingchap. Yes. Sure. Putting a "Do you really want to perform this action (Y/N)" dialog on anything is a proven way to avoid mistakes and improve efficiency, especially in high-stress, time critical situations.

/s in case it's not obvious :-)"

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