Mercedes' head of race strategy Rosie Wait has revealed that Lewis Hamilton's car faced two critical instances of potential failure during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, due to structure and brake issues.
Hamilton experienced a challenging Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, missing out on Q3 and qualifying in 11th. Ultimately, the seven-time world champion secured ninth place in the race, marking his lowest position this season, excluding his DNF and disqualification incidents.
However, even Hamilton’s two-point finish hung in the balance as Mercedes chief, Wait, revealed looming threats that raised concerns about his ability to complete the race.
The initial setback stemmed from his earlier contact with Pierre Gasly, resulting in damage to his front wing. Despite the damage, the decision was made to keep Hamilton out, considering the potential cost in constructors' championship points.
"Undoubtedly, it will have affected the balance and the performance of Lewis' car slightly.
"But it was never a consideration for us to pay the cost of a pit stop of fitting a new front wing versus just continuing with it.
“Actually, the biggest concern for us was structural, so, if it had degraded and started to become a structural concern then that might have been a safety issue and that might have forced us to change it.
“We were monitoring it very closely during the race but thankfully that never became an issue and he could just complete the race with the wing as it was."
According to Wait, the primary concern arose from brake reliability in the closing stages of the race, adding a nail-biting suspense to whether Hamilton could continue in the grand prix until the end.
"The other thing to be aware of is that Lewis was managing brake issues throughout the race,” Wait continued.
“Which was a real reliability concern. So, our number one priority was making sure that we got that car to the finish and didn't have to retire it.
“That will have affected his performance to varying degrees throughout the race and is something that we are certainly working on to improve for next year's car."
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