After being quizzed about a radio message from Lewis Hamilton after the race at Monza, Mercedes clarified the “damage” he had referred to.
Hamilton went into the Italian Grand Prix with fears of a difficult afternoon in his quest to come through the pack, starting P19 due to a back-of-the-grid penalty for taking a new power unit.
He had joked about binge-watching the new Game of Thrones spin-off series on his iPad as he anticipated getting stuck in a ‘DRS train’, although it was a solid recovery drive to P5 from the seven-time former F1 champ who later spoke of battles in the pack being way more fun than starting at the front.
It was spotted though that at the end of the race, Hamilton had issued an apology to Mercedes over team radio for the damage he had done to the car.
The question was, what damage? The Briton revealed post-race he had gone over some debris which damaged a wheel fairing, but Mercedes’ technical director Mike Elliott does not believe that was the damage Hamilton was referring to.
Instead, he thinks Hamilton was making a reference to his race-ending collision with Fernando Alonso on the first lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, which necessitated the power-unit change and subsequent penalty for Monza.
Asked during Mercedes’ Italian GP debrief what Hamilton had meant when he apologised for the damage he had done to the car, Elliott replied: “I think Lewis was referring back to what had happened at Spa where he tangled with Alonso at the beginning of the race, taking himself out of the race but also in the process damaging his power unit.
“Some damage we are still trying to fix which will allow us to bring it back later in the season. But the time it takes to fix that meant we had to run an older PU at the last race in Zandvoort and at this race we had to bring a new PU into the pool.
“That new PU meant we had to take a penalty and Lewis started from the back of the grid.
“I think he had a fantastic drive to come from the back of the field all the way up to fifth with the car we’ve got – it was a fantastic effort from Lewis. And I think what Lewis was really apologising for was the fact he knew if he had started where he had qualified, he could have had an even better race. It was just simply that.”