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Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes reveal extent of Hamilton issue in Japan

The Japanese Grand Prix was another difficult weekend for Mercedes, and in particular, Lewis Hamilton. However, the team has shed light on a problem in the race that affected his pace.

Hamilton race Japan
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Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in an underwhelming ninth place in Japan, but Mercedes has since confirmed he was nursing an issue with his front wing, causing his car to suffer from exaggerated understeer.

The trip to Suzuka was one to forget for the 39-year-old. Having qualified in seventh, ahead of Charles Leclerc and George Russell, Hamilton limped to the chequered flag – offering track position to his team-mate mid-race and failing to make good on an ambitious tyre strategy.

However, it has since been confirmed a contributing factor to Hamilton’s lack of performance during the race was damage to one of his front wing end plates, something team trackside engineer director Andrew Shovlin confirmed.

“It did lose a bit [of performance],” Shovlin said.

“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.”

'Not a lot of lap time...'

Sunday proved warmer than expected, with teams having to adapt to the change in weather ahead of the race getting underway.

“The track was hot so on the grid we took a little bit of wing out for that. But that additional loss then caused him problems and he was actually quite front limited throughout that first stint,” Shovlin highlighted.

The first lap red flag owing to the race-ending incident between Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon had allowed for a strategy reset, with Shovlin's comments suggesting the team's choice during the race stoppage was more critical to Hamilton’s early pace than his front wing issue.

Mercedes opted for a one-stop approach on two sets of Hard tyres for both Hamilton and Russell. However, this offset strategy did not work and both drivers were pitted again for Medium tyres in the closing stages of the race.

“At the pit stop we didn’t change the wing but we can put some flap angle back in it. You can put a bit more load on and that actually put the car in a much better place," he added.

“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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