Hamilton reveals cause of costly restart mistake

07/06/2021
NEWS STORY

World champion, Lewis Hamilton has revealed the cause of the mistake that cost him a points finish in Baku.

With title rival, Max Verstappen eliminated following his high-speed puncture, ahead of the restarted two-lap sprint to the finish, the world champion looked set for a significant points haul seeing as he was starting from second on the grid (again).

However, despite getting the jump on Sergio Perez at the restart, as the field headed into Turn 1, the world champion headed off down the escape road ahead, smoke billowing from his locked-up brakes.

Rejoining the race at the very back of the field, he was able to overhaul Nicholas Latifi on the final lap to claim 15th, meaning that Mercedes left Azerbaijan empty handed after Valtteri Bottas, who had the afternoon from hell, also failed to finish in the points.

In the moments before the restart, Hamilton made it clear that he was not going to take any unnecessary chances, especially as his main title rival was now out of the race.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint," he insisted.

Moments later however he was apologising for his costly mistake. "I'm sorry guys," he said. "Don't sweat it," came the reply.

However, he subsequently asked his race engineer, Pete Bonnington: "Did I have the magic on?" referring to a setting used by the German team when running behind the safety car, that is believed to adjust such things as brake bias.

"Yeah looks like it was knocked back on," responded Bonnington.

"Could've sworn I switched it off," sighed Hamilton.

"On the restart, I think when Checo moved over towards me, I clicked a switch," the Briton subsequently explained to reporters, "it basically switches the brakes off, and I just went straight.

"I had no idea that I’d even touched it," he added.

"So very hard to take, but mostly just really sorry to the men and women in the team who have worked so hard for these points, but we will regroup and come back stronger I’m sure.

"Obviously it’s quite a humbling experience to be honest," he admitted. "We’d worked so hard this weekend to come back out of the top ten and it was looking so good. I put everything on the line and I fought as hard as I could today."

"Both of us are destroyed to be honest," admitted team boss, Toto Wolff. "But it is for him, obviously, as a driver... it's so close and then it's all gone.

"It just feels painful," he added. "You can see we had the win, we had the hand almost close to the trophy because Max didn't score."

Asked if Hamilton, against his own advice, had pushed too hard at the restart, Wolff was adamant: "No, I think he had the position," he told Sky Sports. "I think the move was totally OK on the inside. I think that was a perfect start and the perfect move at the beginning.

"It can't be called a mistake," he continued. "It was just when Sergio came over, Lewis touched a button and the brake balance changed. The brake balance went all the way forward and ultimately the car couldn't stop.

"He just doesn't make any mistakes," the Austrian insisted. "That is what you need to remember. I wouldn't wish for anybody else to be in the car."

Asked about the smoke seen billowing from Hamilton's front brakes before the restart, Wolff replied: "I don't think that was the problem. I think it was more a simple, how can I say... finger problem.

"It was just that the brakes were not there, or were not set to the right position, and that is why he missed the braking point. I don't know. It's just the emotion of frustration. It's just so overwhelming at the moment. I would have taken third or this result.

"From this year's running, we just need to be the best," he added, referring to the title battles. "The best of us, the best that we have. Operationally, we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven't haven't done that the last two weekends. We still have our underlying issues, that we're not getting off the start into the happy window of the tyres with the set-up.

"Also after the stops we make operational mistakes and we lose all the time that you can see today in the twisty old town and city. This is what happened in Monaco.

"It's not a shocker now that the car that won three races is nowhere. It is not. We know the deficit, we've seen that in these particular parts of the tracks. We know that we have gaps that we just need to overcome. The 90 degree corners we've actually been quite competitive. it was all the twisty bits. You could see in the middle sector we were really close, it was quick on the straight but the middle sector was a total shocker.

"And we haven't given the drivers a competitive package this weekend," he admitted. "Far from a competitive package.

"And that is the frustration. It's not only the incident at the end that frustrates, its overall not meeting our own expectations. All of us together, Lewis, engineers, myself, for everybody.

"What I take away is that we must bring our 'A' game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend."

"We have four hours together on the plane now. Maybe we'll drink," Wolff said.. "Maybe that's not good to say on Sky, but we will drink!

"We have no doubt, this is a team that is so strong and so angry. We've got to transform the anger into positive force. We're warriors and we're going to come back."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Baku, here.

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Published: 07/06/2021
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