The “brake magic” error occurred during the last stages of the Baku GP during the standing restart, when Lewis Hamilton accidentally switched to a front-tyre warm up mode, that has an effect on the brakes and puts the break bias forward, which resulted in Hamilton going off at the first corner and losing an important podium. The restart occurred after a red flag caused by the crash of Max Verstappen, which meant that if Hamilton would score a podium, he would be putting himself in the top spot of the drivers championship again.
In the recent race debrief video, the technology director Mike Elliott said that the team will implement something to prevent the same thing from occurring again, and it should be put in place in time for the upcoming French GP at Paul Ricard.
As he explained the situation in the video: “Lewis had done all the right things. He got the car to the grid, he switched off the various buttons and settings he needed to switch off, switched on the ones he needed to switch on, it was all set to start the race properly.”
Elliott continued: “He made a fantastic start, he got himself up alongside [Sergio] Perez and as he and Perez were sort of shuffling position Lewis swerved.
“And in the process of swerving, he just clipped the magic button and unfortunately he didn’t feel he had done it. So he had completely no awareness he was going to have a problem.
“The point he then braked, which was the normal point for him to brake, he was in the position where he got all of the brake balance shifted forward, which put all of the load through the front tyres and as a consequence they locked and from that point there was nothing that he could do than go wide.
“I know speaking to Lewis yesterday that Lewis sort of feels a chunk of blame for that, but the reality is Lewis makes so few mistakes and that’s what really sets him apart from some of the other drivers.
“It’s our duty to try and give him a car where it’s more difficult for him to make mistakes. We need to take our share of that, look at how we can improve that and that’s something we will put in place for the next race.”
In the video, Elliott also addressed the issues regarding the second car, that belongs to Valtteri Bottas. The Finnish driver eventually finished the race at P12, and Elliott believes it is due to the combination of difficulty in building up the tyre temperature as well as Bottas’ lack of confidence. Elliott stressed out that the team needs to get on top of the tyre warming up problems, an issue especially visible in both cars during the Monaco GP.
As he said: “At this circuit, one of the difficulties is getting the warm-up of the front tyre and it is also a circuit where you need to have real confidence, the walls are really close and if you get it wrong you are going to put it into the wall. Those two things kind of go together because if you can go a little bit quicker, if you can get yourself a little bit closer to the wall because you are confident, then you get a bit more heat into the tyres.”
He continued: “If you get more heat into the tyres you get a bit more grip and you can go faster and so you end up with this sort of positive spiral.
“I think Valtteri just didn’t get to that position. He didn’t find that last little bit of confidence to be in that positive spiral in the same way [as Hamilton].
“In practice, there were a lot of drivers who understeered wide and put the car into the wall, presumably because they didn’t get the front tyres into the window, and to the credit of our drivers both of our drivers avoided that mistake.
“I think it is also worth bearing in mind that if you look at this weekend and compare it to last weekend in Monaco, in Monaco it was Valtteri who was able to get the tyres into the window and get the best of them and it was Lewis that was struggling a bit more.”
Elliot added: “So I think this is something that we need to understand as a team. It is something we need to work on and improve because if we don’t improve on that there will be other circuits this year where we will find the same problems.”
We are not used to seeing the Mercedes team struggle with their performance, how quickly do you think we will see them back on the top?