Mercedes explains Hamilton's restart nightmare


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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Published: 10/06/2021
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