Formula One

“We took out a lot of front wing” – Hamilton explains the reasons behind the penalty and poor performance in Austria

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Lewis Hamilton will probably leave Austria as one of the most frustrated and disappointed drivers after the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

The British driver started fifth and overtook Lando Norris on the opening lap to get up to fourth. Although the general expectation was that he would battle with the Ferraris for a spot on the podium, Hamilton struggled and became agitated very quickly.

His first source of frustration was a track limits penalty on just the eleventh lap. Feeling his penalty was not justified, he voiced his frustration on team radio and made sure to report excursions from other drivers ahead. Speaking on the radio, Hamilton claimed he could not get the car to turn, thus revealing that big understeer was the reason he was outside the track limits at the exit of the final corner.

In a post-race interview with RaceFans, Hamilton revealed that a change on the angle of the front wing was the main cause behind his penalty and general lack of performance in the race.

We took out a lot of front wing. We knew we had a really bad rear end here so we took out a lot of front wing to try and keep that balance so that we could do a long run, go long.

And we massively under-egged it. I was, like, almost full lock around the last two corners. Going into turn 10, it was just sliding and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Through the stops we then added a lot of wing. The car started to slowly come back to at least getting around and staying on-track.

Changes in the angle of the front wing are one of the very few adjustments allowed under parc ferme conditions during a race weekend. With the Austrian Grand Prix being a weekend featuring a sprint race, only one hour of practice was held before the cars entered parc ferme conditions ahead of qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Mercedes seemingly did not get the car set up as they wanted during free practice, thus were very limited in their options for the rest of the weekend. For the Grand Prix, they gambled on reducing the angle of the front wing to balance the car, as both drivers struggled with an oversteering car. Ultimately, they suffered from the opposite problem during the race, as Hamilton complained about severe understeering in his car. At one point, the Brit became so discouraged that his team principal, Toto Wolff, told him on the radio:

Lewis the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.

“They need to find a new solution for this track”

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As he made known at various points on the radio, Hamilton was very unhappy at how the FIA stewards handled track limits at the Red Bull Ring, as eight penalties were given out throughout the race. He elaborated on this subject as well and had this to say:

I think they need to probably find a new solution for this track. Years ago when we didn’t have track limits thing the track was much more enjoyable to drive.

It’s strange to be driving and have to have to almost comment on the car ahead because that’s what the team have asked you to do. I think they did it in Austin a couple of years ago. That’s not racing, right.

Norris was going off so much, it was insane. As soon as he got past me he went off like at least 10 times and so did Perez. Perez would go off turn nine, turn 10 and he didn’t get a penalty. So obviously they should just be able to go off and none of us get a penalty.

Lewis Hamilton will hope for a better performance in the next Grand Prix, which will be his home race at Silverstone. The seven-time champion has won eight times at the venue, so the place is ideal for him and Mercedes to rebound from a mediocre weekend.

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