Mercedes took gamble on Hamilton suspension in Mexico

Mercedes took a gamble in the Mexican GP by leaving Lewis Hamilton out on his flat-spotted first set of tyres, ignoring data that suggested a vibration was potentially strong enough to cause a suspension failure.

The team would normally have brought straight him in for a new set of tyres, as happened with Nico Rosberg in Sochi two years ago after he locked up on the first lap.

However, given the world championship situation it was decided to leave Hamilton out and monitor the vibration.

The final call was taken by Paddy Lowe, who was at McLaren when Kimi Raikkonen suffered a dramatic failure on worn tyres at the 2005 European GP, after consultation with Toto Wolff and others.

"That flat spot was what I'd call medium-high," Lowe told Motorsport.com. "Where high would be something that causes so much vibration that you overload the suspension. You remember Kimi at the Nurburgring in 2005?

"That effect is very real, it's something all the teams monitor whenever they have a flat spot. There's the driver feeling, you can lose vision from the vibration, but more critical is the overloads that you put in the suspension.

"To be honest the overload aspect wasn't clear until we got running at full speed again. It looked medium-high on initial numbers, and actually as those first couple of laps developed it was clear that it was overloading the suspension, so we were running beyond our approved limits.

"Then we faced a very, very tough decision, because the choices were a suspension failure end of straight, as per Kimi, or throw the championship away, because boxing on lap two was going to destroy Lewis's championship straight away anyway."

The team attempted to get Hamilton to his intended pi stop target of around lap 19-20, but in the end he had to come in on lap 17.

"It wasn't getting worse, certainly for the first 12-14 laps," said Lowe. "But it did turn worse just towards the end there, and that's why we boxed a couple of laps before we would have done."

Wolff confirmed that had the title not been at stake, the team would not have left Hamilton out.

"In any other race, we would have pitted him, and lost the race," said the Austrian. "We kept him out there in order to not throw away the championship for him."

"Honestly, it was not a comfortable situation we found ourselves in there, to make that call, weighing up the championship versus a failure of the suspension."

 

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Mexican GP
Track Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Mercedes
Article type Breaking news