READ: Mercedes lodges protest, then drops it… and Hamilton isn't happy!
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolf has played down Lewis Hamilton assertion that his terrible getaway from the lights in the Japanese Grand Prix was solely down to him, suggesting the team is indeed at fault.
Both Mercedes drivers have at times struggled to get a handle on their starting procedures since the FIA introduced new rules last year that stated teams must set the clutch 'bite point' before the driver leaves the pits prior to the race.
However, particularly poor starts for Hamilton in Monza – which dropped him to fifth initially – and in Suzuka this weekend have taken a potentially crucial toll on his title bid at an inopportune time.
Though Hamilton took the blame for the Suzuka getaway, which saw him drop from second to eighth in the first few metres of the race, Wolff deflected his admission by suggesting Mercedes is at fault for not giving him effective enough tools.
POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Japanese Grand Prix
“The clutch, obviously, is not perfect,” Wolff said. “We are giving it to them and it is difficult to handle. We have tried to optimise that but our first assessment was that it didn't function well on the clutch release -- dumping the clutch -- but that is obviously an oversimplification. It is a complex system to deploy and that didn't function in the race.”
Though Wolff insists the issues are being investigated and both drivers are often seen practicing their starts during free practice sessions, he says it is a complicated process to understand.
“It is difficult to handle the clutch in the right way and both drivers have worked on that, going as far as changing the way the glove has been done to release it. This is just one aspect on how it goes, how you release it and how you build the revs, and that is very complicated, then there is the random factor of getting all of that right and that is not always very easy with the clutch.”
After dropping to eighth at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton fought back up to third position but now trails Rosberg by 33 points with four rounds of the 2016 season remaining.
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