Mercedes says Lewis Hamilton’s Australian Grand Prix was hampered after suffering floor damage on his Formula 1 car. 

The reigning world champion lost the lead of the race to Valtteri Bottas on the run to Turn 1 and struggled to match his teammate’s pace throughout, ultimately crossing the line over 20s adrift in second place.

Hamilton initially said he had “some ideas” for his significant pace deficit to Bottas, before Mercedes revealed the Briton had lost a “chunk” of the floor in front of the left-rear tyre on his W10, which the team said “exacerbated” car balance challenges throughout the race. 

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CrashTV: 

"We have discovered damage to Lewis' floor at the region of the left-rear tyre seal [in front of the rear tyre] which will have exacerbated the challenges he had with the car balance,” a Mercedes team spokesperson said. 

“A chunk of the floor is missing, [we are] not sure how or why at this stage."

Hamilton insisted he was not disappointed to have been beaten by Bottas and promised to work hard and improve on his starts following his sluggish getaway off the line in Melbourne

“It is a good weekend for the team so I am happy for everyone and a fantastic job from everyone,” he said. 

“Valtteri drove an incredible race today so he truly deserved it and we just have some work to do. But it’s still a great start to the year and more than we could have hoped as a team. 

“Naturally it’s a little bit frustrating to lose position at the start when you’ve had a good weekend up until that point but that is how the game goes. I’ll just train and work hard to come back next time. 

“I’ve just got to work on my starts,” he added. “[There was] no problem, just couldn’t get it away.

“After the start it was pretty much done so it was really just about bringing the car home in one piece and make sure we held a 1-2. It was pretty straightforward in the end.” 

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