Question marks remain over Lewis Hamilton’s W15 engine after ‘catastrophic loss’ detected

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton off the track in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton has called 2024 his 'worst start' to a season

Mercedes technical director James Allison said Lewis Hamilton’s power unit suffered a “catastrophic” failure in Melbourne, though the trigger for it remains unknown.

It had already been a frustrating Australian Grand Prix experience for Hamilton, who suffered a fresh Q2 exit at Albert Park, though his situation grew more infuriating still when an engine issue forced him to retire from the race.

Mercedes waiting for answers on Lewis Hamilton PU failure

A free weekend now awaits before the F1 2024 campaign resumes at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix, though the Mercedes High Performance Powertrains division at Brixworth has a very busy schedule ahead, as the race team remain in the dark over what went so terribly wrong with Hamilton’s PU.

Asked as part of Mercedes’ Australian GP debrief whether the cause of Hamilton’s engine failure had been discovered, Allison confirmed: “We do not.

“The power units will return to the safe hands of the guys at Brixworth, who will be able to figure out what let go.

“All we know is the symptoms at the time, which was a rapid loss of oil pressure followed by a shutdown of the engine to protect it because when you know you’ve got catastrophic loss like that, the best thing you can do for the future is kill it there and then. And then you have not just got like a load of molten metal.

“You have normally got a fairly clear evidence chain of what caused it. And then that lets you work better for the future.

“So, we do not know yet, Brixworth and HPP will do in short order. And no doubt as soon as we know then they will jump to with their characteristic energy to make sure that any risk that happens on any other engine is mitigated as best we can.” recommends

F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

Mercedes ultimately saw neither driver cross the finish line, with George Russell eliminated in a late shunt while harrying Fernando Alonso for P6.

And if Hamilton had still have been in the race at this point, a lowly P8 is the finishing position which Allison reckons Hamilton could have secured.

“We know from his first stint that he was going along okay on those soft tyres, it was never going to be a long stint, but the car hung onto them adequately well compared with the estimates we had made beforehand,” said Allison.

“He was not really on the medium tyre for long enough before retiring for us to have much intelligent things to say about that. But if you just take George’s pace as a guide and say Lewis could have matched that then my guess is he would have been on for something like four points.”

Having scored just eight points across the opening three rounds, Hamilton has suffered statistically his worst ever start to a Formula 1 season.

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