Formula 1


Mercedes finally have answers regarding Lewis Hamilton's Canadian GP woes

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Lewis Hamilton's poor showing at the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend was down to a number of minor technical issues that, when lined up, made a win in Montreal almost impossible.

A manufacturing 'quality control issue' meant that the Silver Arrows couldn't install and run its upgraded power plant as scheduled. This meant that both Mercedes drivers had to run with engines already six races old.

In a sport where upgrades and in-season nips and tucks can shave tenths off a lap time, Hamilton's team were already behind the Ferrari and Renault, whose engines were bristling with upgraded parts and configurations.

Ferrari's pace was obvious all weekend, and the revised Renault power unit in Red Bull's cars delivered what the F1 doctor ordered, but definitely not what Hamilton and Mercedes needed. 

However, Hamilton's race was further compromised by an issue that Mercedes have confirmed was not technically an engine issue, but was an engine cooling failure - which emerged during the period behind the safety car.  

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport chief strategist James Vowles explained: "What happened with Lewis was an entirely unrelated chassis cooling event, nothing to do with the engine itself.

"You saw with Valtteri as he was able to use it with good effect, second in qualifying and maintaining that second in the race.

"We had on the chassis side a cooling issue that appeared very, very early on in the race, it appeared during the safety car," added Vowles.

"And what it meant was the power unit was becoming very, very warm."

Canadian F1 Grand Prix

It was evident that the Briton was losing time and outright pace throughout most of the race, but as expected, the German team threw everything at resolving the problem.

"We tried a number of counter measures, both through switch changes that Lewis was able to complete for us, and through driving style, so Lewis was really adapting to the situation as best he could, to stabilise and keep the temperatures under control.

"He was around two seconds behind Max, he wasn't tucked up behind him. We were getting a reasonable amount of clean air into the radiators. He did a good job, and we were able to get somewhere reasonable in the first stint of the race, but we were still too warm."

Vowles went on to explain the process by which they tried to remedy the problem.

Canadian F1 Grand Prix

"During the first pit-stop we came in and we made an adjustment to try to alleviate and relieve the situation as much as possible," he continues. "We knew that we had various elements in our cooling configuration that are removable. During a pit stop we can make a change. There are two losses here, the first is that during a pit stop itself you're asking the guys to do a fairly complex job in a short space of time. Remember, the pit stop really only lasts around 2 to 2.2 seconds.

"The second is that the car, as it goes back on track again, is in a slightly different aerodynamic configuration, simply because panels that were there have been removed.

"How much slower was the car out on track? The reality behind that was it was a matter of a few milliseconds from what we did with the cooling change, but more importantly, it gave us the ability to use more of the power unit performance and gave Lewis a car that now wasn't struggling like it was in first stint of the race, so he could now go back and attack others. And that performance benefit outweighs anything that happened on the cooling side.

"As Lewis went back out it was a little bit more comfortable, and you saw later on in the race he was able to bring the fight to Ricciardo. Unfortunately the damage was done far too early in terms of his race performance, which just meant fifth was all we could get from him on the day."

Canadian F1 Grand Prix

Contrary to commentators and pundits suggestions during the race, that perhaps Hamilton was nursing a sick engine, Vowles stated that despite the age of each engine, both drivers were told to go for it. What must be pleasing to the Mercedes team is that they're now a third of the way through the season and still using the first engines - which by recent F1 standards, is remarkable. 

Vowles finished by saying: "In terms of what happened in the race with Valtteri and Lewis, both of them drove the power unit as they did in the first race, there was no additional management, no additional switches, or modes or turn-downs, we were effectively using the power unit to its full benefit."

Hamilton takes to the track again at the Paul Ricard Circuit for a return of the French Grand Prix on June 24. 

Lewis Hamilton
Formula 1

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