Lewis Hamilton ended his FP2 session in the gravel trap in Melbourne today after damage to the floor of his car cost him downforce and sent him off the road.
The team was aware of a possible problem after it was spotted in the pits, but worryingly perhaps the message did not get through before Hamilton went straight at Turn 6, just reaching the tyre wall before he came to halt.
“I had separation of the front splitter,” he explained. “The splitter was pushed right up underneath, touching the top of the chassis, underneath the chassis. I lost a lot of front end. I went into Turn 6, turned in, and nothing really happened, I just went straight on.
“The guys said they saw something in the pit stop and they were about to call me in, but it was too late, I’d already gone off. Those things happen.”
Having made a mistake on his quick run earlier in the afternoon Hamilton finished the day in seventh place, but he was encouraged by the pace of Nico Rosberg, who was 0.4s faster and third overall.
“It was a really good day, a surprisingly good day, and really positive. Nico did a great job, I didn’t get a good time on my lap because I locked up and went wide, but generally it’s been really positive.
“We’re not massively off the Red Bulls, which is incredible, really incredible, and just shows what a great job all the guys back at the factory have done. Obviously there’s been a couple of issues, which we’ll work hard to fix, but I don’t think it’s anything the team can’t fix.
“The Red Bull is massively quick, as it always is, they’ve obviously been sandbagging the whole time in winter as expected, and all of a sudden they’ve pulled out a lot of time. But I don’t feel we’re miles away. They’ve gone from being really far away to being not far away from Red Bull, and that’s really impressive.”