Austrian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton’s chance of a podium went begging when he damaged his front wing off a kerb during Sunday’s race.
Hamilton came home in a relatively low-key P5 at the end of a hectic race in Austria. Having started from P4 after a grid penalty applied on Saturday night, he ran a longer stint on the Medium tyre to lead the race after the pitstops ahead for Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc.
However, his pace suddenly dropped off as Leclerc suddenly began to reel him back in after his stop and the reason quickly became evident as Mercedes prepared a fresh front wing for him in the pits. Radioing in to say he thought he had wing damage, the team confirmed it and, at his stop, changed it out for a new one.
After that, Hamilton tried to make it to the end in P4 but was caught and passed by Sebastian Vettel right at the end as the Ferrari driver fought back from a second stop for Soft tyres.
Afterwards, Hamilton explained that temperatures had played a key role in Mercedes having to manage their pace: “It wasn’t the easiest day, we knew already before the race started that we might be in trouble here. Overheating proved to be a fairly big issue for us today. I think we had good pace, the car felt good, but we just couldn’t race due to the overheating. It seemed to be a limitation of our car this weekend and the other cars didn’t seem to struggle quite as much as we did, so we’ll have to look into this and try to fix it.
“There’s going to be more hot races coming up like Budapest, so we’ll need to get on top of this, otherwise it could be a difficult few races for us. I also damaged my front wing on the kerb, so we had to change it, which cost us a bit of time as well. It’s just one of those bad days in the office, but at least I still got some good points with fifth place.”
Merc’s Andrew Shovlin explained Hamilton’s race, saying that the team knew the heat would be their Achilles Heel: “For us it was an incredibly tough afternoon, we were on the limit with cooling all race. We knew this was our Achilles heel and the combination of ambient temperature and altitude were just too much for us to fight today. Lewis was struggling with temperatures and he was having to having to manage from start to finish. He was keeping his tyres in good shape but unfortunately his front wing flap broke on the kerb at turn 10 on lap 27 and we were losing too much time so stopped for a new nose and the Hard tyre.”
“It was a shame to lose the place to Vettel right on the end, but it was just a consequence of all the issues we were having to deal with. Whilst temperatures were the headline item for us today, we weren’t particularly quick even in Qualifying, so no doubt there are a few areas that we need to investigate and improve.”