Lewis Hamilton gained the extra point for the fastest lap of the race in Jeddah despite wing damage costing him up to 0.4sec per lap.
That point could be crucial in the context of the World Championship fight as Hamilton drew level on points with title rival Max Verstappen after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Parts of the wing were seen flying off Hamilton’s car as the final laps progressed, and Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the loss of time each lap was only increasing as the car became less stable.
“It was going up and up,” Shovlin said about the wing damage, quoted by The Race. “So we started off with probably only a tenth or two after he got sandwiched and Esteban [Ocon] rode over it.
“We were quite lucky it just seemed to hit the road, lost a few bits but bounced back, no more damage.
Lewis Hamilton on Max Verstappen: “He’s over the limit for sure. I’ve avoided a collision on so many occasions with the guy.
"I don’t always mind being the one that does that because you live to fight another day.”
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 5, 2021
“After [the contact with] Max we then lost the whole side of it, getting up to nearer four tenths of performance.”
Hamilton let out a sigh of relief when asked by Sky Sports F1 about setting the fastest lap, smiling as he said he “took a lot of risks to get that” extra point.
Shovlin said setting the fastest lap with a damaged car was simply down to Hamilton’s sheer will on the track, but added he may have thought differently about pushing so hard if he had been able to see the damage that had been done.
However, Shovlin added it had been a tough call by Mercedes to keep him out with the damaged wing as they felt it was “not guaranteed” to stay on his car – but they took the risk and it paid off for them.
“He’s very determined,” Shovlin said of Hamilton’s quickest lap.
“At the time, we were very much in two minds, we were seeing other people struggling with the tyres, we could see the wing was most definitely not guaranteed to stay on the car after the evening it had.
“It’s a difficult decision between doing something that might put Lewis level or do you play it safe? Ultimately Lewis took the decision, and his decision was probably aided by the fact he couldn’t see his front wing.
“If he was watching the TV like we were, he may have thought better of it.”
Does Hamilton have the mental advantage?
Now that Lewis Hamilton is level on points, does he have the mental advantage ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP?