Tag Archives: Hamilton

Hamilton heading for pitlane start despite Mercedes safety claims

Lewis Hamilton is likely to start the German GP from the pitlane as Mercedes plans to switch him from Brembo to Carbon Industrie discs for the race.

That would be a change of car specification under parc ferme conditions, and a loss of grid position is the automatic result.

An optimistic Toto Wolff says that Mercedes hopes that the FIA will regard the change of supplier as a safety issue, but rivals insist that there is no chance of any leniency, and that it’s a straightforward case of a change of specification.

It’s worth remembering that when RBR had a tyre issue at Spa the team was not allowed to change cambers overnight on safety grounds.

“I don’t think we will be running the same brake material tomorrow because there is no way you can analyse what happened and how to prevent it in the future within 12 hours,” said Wolff. “So the latest information is that we will switch the brake material.”

Regarding the penalty, he said: “I’m not sure that this is totally clarified. We have had a brake failure, which means that we are obliged to make sure that the car is running safe tomorrow. What that could mean is switching the brake supplier. Whether that has to result in starting from the pitlane, we are discussing that with the FIA. I would even go further, obviously many teams are running that brake material, so that safety discussion probably needs to be extended.”

However other teams using Brembo told this writer they do not believe that they face any issues here, although there have been disc failures this year. Teams using Brembo include Ferrari, RBR, Sauber. Force India, Toro Rosso and Marussia.

Regarding Hamilton’s preference for Brembo he said: “Brembo had a failure earlier in the year, and they have upgraded the discs to what supposedly is the safest disc. They have put a lot of research into the carbon disc, so there was no gamble whatsoever, it was just a matter of what suits your driving style more. Both of them have been trying both brake materials almost every weekend.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “Obviously Nico’s got another gift…”

Lewis Hamilton will start the German GP from a lowly 15th after he suffered a front right brake disc failure in Q1 and spun heavily into the tyre wall.

Hamilton did not take part in Q2 and was thus officially 16th, but he gained a place from an Esteban Gutierrez grid penalty.

Out of choice Hamilton uses Brembo discs while Nico Rosberg uses Carbon Industrie – it’s not uncommon for drivers to swap around as they search for better ‘feel’ – so the German does not have an issue. The broken disc was new today and the team has no explanation for the failure, although the likelihood is that it was a one-off manufacturing fault.

Hamilton could in theory switch brands for the race – but it would be a change of car spec, and he would have to start from the pit lane.

“It happens so quickly,” said Hamilton. “And the thing is when you’re driving you have to have 110% confidence in the car, and you never, ever enter a corner thinking something’s going to happen. So you hit it [the brake pedal] and it’s a real shock. We’ll figure something out. There’s still a decent amount of races to go. Obviously Nico’s got another gift but we’ll do what we can.

“I can’t believe it, but obviously things like this happen, things are for whatever reason sent to try us. The guys worked hard over the evening, really late last night. We’ve done such a great job with the set-up, it felt fantastic out there, and I didn’t even get to do five laps. It’s nothing really to do with the guys. They’re supposed to have gone through lots of tests with the brakes, which they did. Just a bit unfortunate.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “I’m going to try and have fun…”

He might have had a bad Saturday but Lewis Hamilton says he’s looking forward to fighting his way up from ninth on the grid in Austria tomorrow.

The Mercedes driver was surprisingly upbeat given his disastrous qualifying session, which began with his first time being cancelled for exceeding track limits, and ended with a spin at Turn 2 on his final run.

“That’s just the approach I’m going to have,” he said when asked by this writer if he expected to enjoy himself as he fought his way through. “I’m going to try and have fun. I’m obviously going to try and stay out of trouble amongst all the cars that are around where I am, and take my time. There’s a long, long race tomorrow, and strategy and all these different things.

“It’s not going to be easy, for sure. I’ve got all these quick cars in front of me and it’s great to see Williams so fast today, it’s really good for them to have a front row. Sometimes it’s other people’s turn. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll still have a good race for them.”

Lewis said that he had to target victory: “Always. Even if I was starting last I’m always going for the win. Obviously it gets harder and harder the further back you go.

“I have to sit down and talk to my strategist. It’s so difficult to know how things will pan out. Do you sit back a little bit and wait for people’s tyres to go off and then push, do you just go all out at the beginning and potentially risk your tyres going off a little bit sooner than others? I really don’t know just yet what the plan of attack is. All I know is hopefully I’m just going for the win. We’ll see how it works out. It’s obviously damage limitation, it’s to try and get as many points tomorrow ands get some more points on the scoreboard.”

Hamilton did not make any excuses for his Q3 spin: “We don’t know exactly what happened but I assume I just pressed the brake too hard.”

He had no problem with losing his earlier time for exceeding track limits.

“It’s quite cool that they’ve put the limit there. Of course policing it is not the easiest. Some people have gone wide and not been done, some people have gone a little bit wide and they have been done. I think they did a good job. Today we had a little pace in the car, so it hurts a little bit in the gut but I’ll try and make up for that tomorrow.”

He also insisted that his mistakes today and in Montreal qualifying were not due to pressure.

“I don’t think I’m trying too hard. My laps have been pretty good all weekend, I knew I had extra time in my pocket. I pulled it out on my first lap and then obviously didn’t finish the lap. Then the second time round, I was just taking the car into unknown territories, I guess. There’s a long way to go, so don’t rule me out here.”

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Rosberg unconcerned by Hamilton advantage in Austria

Nico Rosberg is unconcerned by a 0.4s deficit to Lewis Hamilton on supersoft tyres in FP2 today – and says that he was able to make up the difference when it counted in the last race in Canada.

“It was there in Montreal also,” said Rosberg of the gap. “When it was qualifying I was right where I needed to be.”

Rosberg admitted that he’d experienced a few problems today.

“We were just working through everything and trying to optimise everything for tomorrow. There were a few things that weren’t ideal. We were just really pushing on and trying to sort everything out.

“It’s a new track, so it’s always a learning process every lap. As I say there’s a few areas of the car, like braking and general balance, and it was bouncing a lot down the straight just now, and that goes into the braking zone this bouncing. It’s a very unusual feeling, so we need to try and look into that.”

Regarding the tyres he said: “Graining was a very big issue, my rear tyres were completely grained. But I think it’s the same for everybody, especially on the softer tyre. On the harder tyre it’s OK.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “If we were perfect then it wouldn’t be fun…”

Lewis Hamilton insists that he sees the positives after both Mercedes W05s hit trouble in Montreal.

Hamilton says that the team has learned from the problems it faced, but has not had to compromise the car’s pace while addressing them.

“We definitely haven’t lost any performance,” he said. “We would only have gained from that experience, as you do generally from all experiences like that. Regardless of whether you lose points, you step back from it, a lot of work goes into understanding the situation and rectifying it. If faced with a situation like that first of all we’ll be able to handle it a lot better, and secondly the car has been fixed so that it won’t happen again.”

In Montreal Toto Wolff suggested that Hamilton’s car had retired and Nico Rosberg’s didn’t because it got so hot in its pitstop, but Lewis says it was more a case of the fact Rosberg had a clear track ahead.

“It was not necessarily the pit stop,” he said when asked by this writer. “I think it was more to do with the fact that Nico was in clear air in front of me, and so he’s constantly got cool, free, clean air coming in, and I was very closely behind all the time, so I was having dirty warm air. You can see a slight difference in the temperatures. They were both on the limit, and mine went over.”

Despite losing two races to mechanical failures Hamilton says he’s not frustrated.

“At the moment knowing that we’ve got a lot of races ahead of us it’s not concerning me too much. Of course if it was later on in the season and we were where we were, it would be a little bit different. In one sense it’s comforting to know that I feel like I’ve done my optimum, up until now, but there’s still room for improvement. Plus as a team it is in some ways positive for us to know that we can still improve. If we were perfect then it wouldn’t be fun for the rest of the year.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “It wasn’t a great lap, to be honest…”

Lewis Hamilton had to face being beaten to pole for the second race in a row after a great effort by Nico Rosbeg secured the top spot in Montreal.

Hamilton was fastest today in FP3, Q1 and Q2, but he lost out when it mattered.

“It wasn’t a great lap to be honest,” said a frustrated Hamilton. “And to be honest I really should have got the banker lap in before, a bit like in Monaco, and I didn’t. Nico did a great job today.

“Ultimately I know I have good pace here, I just didn’t do it, basically. I was behind traffic on the first lap, at the last corner, and then generally I was behind people and had to back up, so it was not the best preparation for a lap. But that’s OK, we’ve got a long race tomorrow.”

Despite his obvious disappointment Hamilton remains upbeat about his chances for the race.

“We’ve got a great car. Tomorrow’s a race between me and Nico. I think it’s strategy, we’ve really got to work on looking after the tyres, nurturing the car. I have to speak to my engineer and find out what strategy can work for me, but I’m hoping that I have a chance.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “I was driving with one eye…”

Lewis Hamilton was forced to give up his chase of Nico Rosberg in Monaco after getting some debris in his eye.

In the closing laps he lost some nine second to his team mate, and came under threat from Daniel Ricciardo. Until then he had been pushing Rosberg hard.

“I’ve never really had it before,” said Hamilton after his eye problem. “I kept making sure my visor was as closed as possible but I had quite a bit of wind coming in. I got close to Nico at one stage and all of a sudden I got a bit of debris in my eye, or some dirt, so I was driving with one eye, which is virtually impossible to do and so through the low-speed corners I was trying to open up my visor to clear it up but it was just making it worse. Fortunately, I think with five laps to go it cleared up so I was able to stay ahead of Daniel.”

Regarding his fight with Rosberg, he said: “All the races have been very, very close but this weekend I think I had very good pace. I drove with all my heart and gave it all I could, fairly, and I feel like I drove fairly all weekend. So I leave today quite happy and I can go into the next race with even more energy and determination.

“Generally, there is a fierce battle between me and Nico and it will continue that way to I’m sure quite late in the season. Nico’s not had a single hiccup through the season so far. Obviously I had a car that didn’t finish in Melbourne but otherwise it’s still quite close, so I’m just going to keep my head up, keep pushing. I know the team are working hard for the both of us. The team can sometimes be in awkward positions, which they were yesterday, and their job is really to protect us both, and that’s what they did.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “The car is still a work in progress…”

It was no surprise when Mercedes set the pace in Monaco today, but all the signs are that Red Bull and Ferrari are a lot closer at a track where the power unit is less critical.

In FP1 Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were just 0.032s apart, although a disjointed FP2 meant that the times were not representative, with Hamilton half a second off Fernando Alonso, and Rosberg was only 20th.

“The car is still a work in progress but it felt really good out there today,” said Hamilton. “I had a good first session and was then really pleased to get those last few laps in the dry this afternoon which was a big plus. I’m feeling pretty set for Saturday, there is still some work to do but we have tomorrow to look into that and finish all our preparations for the weekend.”

“That was a very good day,” said Rosberg. “It seems that we are looking very quick here again, although our main competitors seems to be a little closer to us than in Barcelona. I still need to find my perfect set-up so there is still some work for us to do tomorrow to get ready for the weekend. The conditions weren’t great this afternoon so I didn’t take any risks as there was nothing to learn on the wet parts of the track.”

Meanwhile Paddy Lowe confirmed that there is still some work to be done.

“We had a straightforward first practice session when we chose to run an offset schedule to take ourselves out of the dominant traffic. That worked well as we got good clear runs on both sets of tyres, working on the set-up and dialling the car into the track. P2 was obviously wet and only dried up enough to do some useful running in the final half hour.

“This meant we weren’t able to do all our homework on tyre wear and long-run performance, but we were at least able to do a run on the option tyre, to give the drivers a feel for the car in what will be the tyre of choice in qualifying. Overall, the car was working well today and the drivers’ feedback was positive, but there is still more work needed to best prepare for qualifying on Saturday.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “We’re looking strong for at least a few more races…”

Lewis Hamilton finally eased into the lead of the 2014 World Championship with his fourth straight victory of the season in Spain.

Hamilton didn’t have it easy, as he had to work hard to stay clear of Nico Rosberg in the closing laps, when the latter was on the more competitive medium tyre and Lewis was on the hard. He also wasn’t entirely happy with the balance of his car, which led to some terse radio traffic with his engineer.

“I did have the same problems as I had yesterday,” said Hamilton. “It was very strange because Friday P2 was excellent. The car was really good. As for degradation I was very very fast and I stopped my run with 18 laps or something like that, but if I just brought my pace down a little bit I probably could have eked it out even longer. Those changes just transformed the car and today, I was just not able to attack the corners due to snap oversteer, and that’s generally where Nico was catching me, through those entries of corners.”

Despite his run of success Hamilton is keeping a lid on expectations.

“At the rate the team’s going, we’re looking strong for at least a few more races. It’s by no means easy for me because I’ve still got a massive challenge with Nico. But, I mean, I could never had imagined winning these four races but it’s still so close, long, long way to go and, just as I was saying earlier, I’ve got a bit more time to find in this car, so going to work on it.”

Regarding what Mercedes has done right, he said: “There is no secret really, it’s just been hard work and really constructive work. Often when you’re working towards something, sometimes you stumble and fall and then you have to build it again and the team has just been building and building, building and not really having many times when they’re falling. It’s quite remarkable, the actual car itself, the downforce is very good, I’m sure very very close with the Red Bulls and then with the engine, it’s the best engine Mercedes have made.”

He also made some interesting comments on how this year’s car is more tailored to his requirements than the previous model.

“It’s a lengthy process. Obviously last year. when you request something to be changed, it takes some time, because obviously you don’t want to take away their focus from the most important things which is getting downforce. I think it’s just taken some time. I think Michael required had a different driving style to me. He required different things, different seating position, different set-up. I guess Nico and Michael both kind of gelled and went in one direction with the balance.

“And then as I’ve come along, mine is slightly different, and I guess we’ve then created a hybrid: Nico’s come halfway, I’ve come halfway, so we now require the same things from the car. But last year it was maybe a little bit different and so over the time just really, for the engineers to get to know what I require from a car and I think really working on being comfortable with the engineers as well, new engineers, it takes a while to build those relationships and that’s probably been a key strength to this year.”

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Lauda expects Rosberg to bounce back

Niki Lauda is confident that Nico Rosberg can bounce back despite losing out to team mate Lewis Hamilton in the last three races.

The Mercedes F1 boss compared the situation to his battle with Alain Prost at McLaren 30 years ago.

“Things happen, I had the same with Prost in the old days,” he told this writer. “No worries. He will work on himself, and improve. I’m not worried about him at all. He will come back.”

Lauda is adamant that there will be no team orders: “We don’t need to manage anything, just let them race. We only want to make sure there is no third guy involved. Then I’m happy. At the moment we are very well on the right track, but things can change.”

Meanwhile he’s delighted with the way Mercedes has started the season.

“It’s been a perfect operation, we can’t complain. Everything has worked out very well. But I have to say for a new start with new engines, new gearboxes and new cars for me the most outstanding thing is that all four races were won by Mercedes, three by Hamilton and one by Rosberg. This for me is the outstanding performance.

“If you are in a formula which is running for a while, and then you win a couple of races in a row, this is fine. But in this particular difficult year, this is the most outstanding job they did, the engine and car people.”

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