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Lewis Hamilton

An odd quirk of Lewis Hamilton's during F1 starts

The seven-time World Champion has a very particular way of starting his Mercedes W13 compared to other drivers.

Hamilton Spain
To news overview © Mercedes F1

Lewis Hamilton has started a total of 304 Formula 1 Grands Prix, but what is less well known is his peculiar way of launching his Mercedes W13.

The seven-time World Champion has a very specific method of holding his steering wheel, gripping the top half of the left-hand side before letting it go once he's reached the first corner.

In a video on social media, a Mercedes team representative explains that this is due to the shifter paddles on the back which enable the driver to go up or down the gears.

F1 gearboxes are designed to work sequentially, meaning it automatically shifts up or down. When a driver mistakenly presses one, the engine may hit its rev-limit, potentially costing the driver time and positions.

To stop this from happening, Hamilton uses the grip method to block the downshift paddle, meaning he can only upshift.

'Brake Magic' toggle cost him Baku 2021 victory

While the method has worked for him, it noticeably backfired during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2021 when he mistakenly pressed the 'Brake Magic' button on the back of the wheel which toggles the brake bias settings.

Normally they would run at 52-53% for front and rear, but this setting puts the brake bias to 86.5% front and is designed to be used on formation laps or during Safety Car periods to warm up the front brakes and tyres.

When he mistakenly switched the button back on, it triggered a lockup of the front brakes into Turn 1 and ultimately cost him a chance of victory.

To combat this problem, he instructed the Mercedes engineers to fit a shroud around the button to ensure it could not be toggled by accident.

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