Hamilton’s steering wheel never a safety concern

Date published: October 14 2020

Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes strategy director James Vowles has assured that there was never a safety issue with Lewis Hamilton’s steering wheel at the Eifel GP.

Shortly before the race Hamilton complained of movement in his steering wheel, something he had asked the team to change between qualifying and the race, but due to parc ferme rules Mercedes‘ request to fix the issue was denied since clear damage couldn’t be identified.

It didn’t have much of an effect on Hamilton in the end as he took victory at the Nurburgring, in the process equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins.

And Vowles said that Hamilton’s steering issue at no stage became a safety concern.

“You may have heard Lewis complaining about movement within the steering wheel,” Vowles said in a Mercedes debrief video after the Eifel Grand Prix.

“He had play within the steering column and the whole steering system was moving backwards and forwards just a small amount.

“This is a performance factor, as you are cornering you are trying to feel the limit of tyres, having any movement in the steering column whatsoever will cause you to not be sure whether it’s the car moving, the tyres moving or something else.

“However, it wasn’t a safety concern, at no time did we have any concern whatsoever for the system.

“It’s something we noticed on Saturday but the parc ferme regulations state that unless the component is broken you can’t replace it, which is why Lewis had to race with it, and he did a great job considering the amount of difficult conditions we had in that race.”

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Despite matching Schumacher’s race win record Sir Jackie Stewart recently said that Hamilton isn’t one of Formula 1’s greatest talents because his car is far too superior for anyone else to compete.

But Hamilton responded by saying he will “encourage” drivers once he is retired, not diminish their achievements.

“I get knocked by many people, particularly by older drivers,” he told the Daily Mail. “They have a bee in their bonnet. I don’t know why.

“I have so much respect for the past legends, even though they continue to speak negatively about me.

“In 20 years’ time, I can promise you that I will not be talking down about any young driver that is coming through.

“There is a responsibility as an older driver to shine the light and encourage them, whether it is Max Verstappen, or whoever it may be, chasing the record that I eventually set.”

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