Mercedes has explained why Lewis Hamilton slid helplessly into the Baku run-off when the Azerbaijan Grand Prix resumed for a final two-lap sprint last weekend.
Just as he had at the start of the race, Hamilton lined up second on the grid. But sensing his moment, the seven-time champion lunged to the inside of Sergio Perez, locked his brakes and dropped to the back of the field.
In a team "debrief" video on YouTube, technology director Mike Elliott explained what caused Hamilton to make the uncharacteristic mistake.
"One of the buttons we’ve got, it’s called ‘brake magic’, to be honest, I don’t know why we call it ‘brake magic’, is a button that the drivers can press and that allows them to get heat into the brakes," he said.
"One of the big things it does is it moves the brake balance, so the proportion of the front brake energy to the rear brake energy all the way as far forward as we can get it and that allows us to put heat into the front brakes and therefore heat into the rims and into the tyres.
"So, Lewis had done all the right things, he got the car to the grid, he switched off the various buttons and settings he needed to switch off, switched on the ones he needed to switch on, it was all set to start the race properly.
"He made a fantastic start, he got himself up alongside Perez and as he and Perez were sort of shuffling position Lewis swerved and in the process of swerving he just clipped the magic button and unfortunately he didn’t feel he had done it. So, he had completely no awareness he was going to have a problem.
"The point he then braked, which was the normal point for him to brake, he was in the position where he got all of the brake balance shifted forward, which put all of the load through the front tyres and as a consequence they locked and from that point there was nothing that he could do than go wide."
Hamilton blames himself for Baku error
One of the main factors behind Hamilton's continued success is his ability to minimise errors, something highlighted by his record-breaking 54-race points streak that began at the 2018 British Grand Prix.
Elliott added: "I know speaking to Lewis, that Lewis sort of feels a chunk of blame for that, but the reality is Lewis makes so few mistakes and that’s what really sets him apart from some of the other drivers.
"It’s our duty to try and give him a car where it’s more difficult for him to make mistakes. We need to take our share of that, look at how we can improve that and that’s something we will put in place for the next race.”
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