Mercedes reveal true impact of damage sustained to Lewis Hamilton's car

Mercedes explain how the damage Lewis Hamilton picked up in Japan impacted his race.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Mercedes have revealed the impact of the damage sustained to Lewis Hamilton’s car during the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton picked up minor damage to his front-right endplate when he made light contact with future Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc at Turn 3 during the restart at Suzuka.

While the seven-time world champion did not lose “a lot of lap time” as a result of the damage, the loss of front downforce hampered Hamilton in the first stint and affected his balance.

“It did lose a bit and more than the absolute amount of downforce you lost, it just made the car a bit more understeery on a stint where we were probably already a little bit on the understeery side,” Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained.

“And the track was hot so on the grid we took a little bit of wing out for that. But that additional loss then caused him problems and he was actually quite front limited throughout that first stint.

“Now at the pit stop we didn’t change the wing but we can put some flap angle back in it. You can put a bit more load on and that actually put the car in a much better place.

“So, as I said in terms of headline numbers, not a lot of lap time when you can balance it out but certainly adding to the problems that we had during stint one.”

Hamilton revealed the issues caused by the damage was behind his decision to let Mercedes teammate George Russell pass him.

“I got some damage I think in the first stint at the restart with Charles [Leclerc] and I had massive understeer, like huge, huge understeer,” he explained after Sunday’s race.

“So that’s why I decided to let George by, because he seemed quicker and I just couldn’t turn the car.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff praised Hamilton for his “extremely fair play” in giving up position to Russell, who would go on to finish seventh, two places ahead of Hamilton.

“That was extremely fair play,” Wolff told Channel 4. “It wasn’t like he was giving up a position for a podium [but] it was really trying to understand why wasn’t he fast at that stage.”

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