How Mercedes drivers have gone different ways on start systems

Mercedes knows that one its best opportunities to overhaul Max Verstappen for the lead of the Hungarian Grand Prix will come on the charge to the first corner – which makes the race start potentially key to its outcome.

How Mercedes drivers have gone different ways on start systems

Well aware of how critical those opening seconds of the grand prix can be, it is interesting to see that Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have this season diverged on their choice of clutch paddle design in a bid to make the most of their getaways.

The two drivers started the season with the same system – a double paddle layout on the right and left of the steering wheel.

This design features two finger holes - as Giorgio Piola's above photo shows - that are used to allow them better feel and control the release of the clutch at the start.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, cockpit

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, cockpit

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

However, in the wake of far from ideal getaways at the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix, Hamilton changed in China to a different design of paddle – which mirrors the concept Ferrari first introduced back in 2016.

Back then Ferrari abandoned the double paddle arrangement and instead opted for a single 'rocker' paddle that stretches all the way across the back of the steering wheel.

The use of a single longer paddle in theory allows more fine control over the clutch movement because it travels a further distance, which should allow the driver to better judge how to deliver the perfect getaway.

Ferrari SF70H steering wheel comparsion Vettel and Raikkonen

Ferrari SF70H steering wheel comparsion Vettel and Raikkonen

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

There was a spell in 2017 from the Spanish GP when Vettel went back to the double paddle system.

But after then teammate Kimi Raikkonen's strong starts and the crash at the start of that year's Singapore GP he went back to the long single wishbone concept.

As Giorgio Piola's illustration shows, Hamilton has stuck with the single paddle arrangement since he switched over in China, as he clearly prefers it to the double paddle system that he started the season with.

Mercedes AMG F1 W08, steering wheel Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes AMG F1 W08, steering wheel Lewis Hamilton

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

His system features two finger holes on the right hand side, with a pivot arrangement now taking up the left hand side behind the wheel.

For now, though, teammate Bottas has stuck to the double paddles as he seems to be happy enough with his race starts and prefers that design.

While having the two Mercedes drivers using different clutch paddle arrangements may seem unusual, the German car manufacturer is not the only team that has different arrangements for its drivers.

At Ferrari, while both drivers use the single paddle arrangement, they have different ways of operating it.

Sebastian Vettel prefers to use his left hand for the clutch paddle, because his right hand helps operate a mystery third paddle that is believed to help with changing the car's handling characteristics over the course of a lap.

Charles Leclerc uses his right hand for the clutch, so his system is fitted the opposite way around.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H steering wheel rear detail

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H steering wheel rear detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

shares
comments
Verstappen "the best driver out there" - Rosberg

Previous article

Verstappen "the best driver out there" - Rosberg

Next article

Kubica tried "desperate moves" during Hungarian GP qualifying

Kubica tried "desperate moves" during Hungarian GP qualifying
Load comments
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Prime

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Prime

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings

Two drivers produced faultless performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left many to rue what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Prime

Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Prime

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021
How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams Prime

How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams

OPINION: The Formula 1 cost cap has been billed as a saviour to several teams and helped to guarantee their viability for investors. But there already exists another mechanism that effectively had the same purpose, and serves as a strong deterrent for those with the means to go it alone in setting up a new team

Formula 1
Sep 10, 2021