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Lewis Hamilton says the unpredictable feeling with the clutch system was the cause of his dreadful start in the Italian Grand Prix which dropped him from first to sixth and ultimately cost him the chance of victory.
The reigning F1 world champion got dreadful drive off the start line from pole position and found himself shuffled down to sixth place by the exit of the first chicane, shuffling him behind eventual winner Nico Rosberg, both Ferraris, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.
For 2016 F1 technical regulations dictate cars must only have single-paddle clutches for starts, rather than the previous double-clutches, which has caused particular problems for both Mercedes drivers.
Hamilton has blamed the clutch and variable temperatures it can produce which make it difficult to predict and produce a smooth getaway, as evident in his tardy start at Monza.
“We have a relatively inconsistent clutch and it is hard,” Hamilton said. “In the past we were able to be told our clutch temperature and it would be easier to hit a target but now it is a lot less easy to know what your clutch is going to be delivering and what it is not.”
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Despite his poor start, Hamilton carved back to fourth by lap 11 and then leapfrogged both Ferrari drivers thanks to Mercedes' dominant performance and pit stop strategy – opting for a one stop compared to Ferrari's two-stopper – but after climbing to second the British driver was already 15 seconds back on Rosberg.
“My goal was trying to get back up to where I was but of course I could see Nico pulling away and in my experiences of being here [at Monza] in F1 while anything can happen the chances of a win were decreasing lap by lap, second by second,” he said. “I knew at quite an early stage that winning the race was not going to be possible but I tried. I got up to second and that was the best I could do with such a loss at the start.”
Hamilton has seen his F1 championship lead cut to just two points at the end of the European stretch of the campaign while Rosberg now has seven wins in 2016 compared to Hamilton's six.
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