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Bizarre Hamilton decision explained by Mercedes

Bizarre Hamilton decision explained by Mercedes

Bizarre Hamilton decision explained by Mercedes

Bizarre Hamilton decision explained by Mercedes

A damaged Mercedes hampered Lewis Hamilton in Japan, prompting a stunning decision to be made by the seven-time world champion.

Hamilton has made a poor start to the 2024 season, not managing to finish higher than seventh in the opening four races, and currently sitting down in ninth in the drivers' championship standings.

READ MORE: Horner crisis rumbles on as suspended employee 'returns' to Red Bull

The seven-time world champion will head to Ferrari at the start of 2025, ditching his Mercedes team that have provided him with inconsistent cars ever since his heartbreaking 2021 championship defeat.

However, the Brit was unable to challenge his future team-mate Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix, and a much-talked about strategic decision was made that would redefine the afternoon for both Mercedes drivers.

READ MORE: Alonso dismisses Mercedes links with RUTHLESS jibe

Mercedes are currently in fourth place in the constructors' championship
Lewis Hamilton has struggled in 2024

Hamilton's struggles explained by Mercedes

The early stages of the 2024 Japanese GP saw a surprising turn of events for the Silver Arrows, when Hamilton asked his team if they wanted him to allow team-mate George Russell past on lap 14, in some of the most polite team orders seen in the sport for quite some time.

In the end, Russell finished in seventh place, while Hamilton could not improve on ninth, and finished almost 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen.

Speaking on Hamilton's uncharacteristic performance, Mercedes' trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, shed light on the impact of an early coming together with Leclerc.

“It did lose a bit [of lap time], 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," Shovlin explained in the team's post-race debrief.

"The track was hot, so on the grid we took a little bit of wing out for that. But that additional loss [from the damage] then caused him problems and he was actually quite front-limited throughout that first stint."

While the damage itself might not have caused a significant time loss, it disrupted the car's delicate aerodynamic balance, particularly on a hot track where downforce plays a crucial role, and caused the 39-year-old to appreciate that his team-mate behind was faster than he was.

"Now at the pit stop, we didn’t change the wing but we can put some flap angle back in it," Shovlin added. "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."

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Lewis Hamilton Ferrari Mercedes Charles Leclerc George Russell Silver Arrows
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