Mercedes’ only theory after finding no evidence of ‘broken’ Lewis Hamilton seat

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton driving the Mercedes W15 during Bahrain practice.

Lewis Hamilton driving the Mercedes W15.

Despite Lewis Hamilton feeling like a broken seat had left his left butt cheek up “in the air”, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says his seat was “fine” in Bahrain.

Instead, he puts the driver’s complaint down to a seat belt issue.

Lewis Hamilton: My butt was in the air

Putting in the laps in the Bahrain Grand Prix as he raced his way to seventh place, Hamilton reported over the radio, “My seat is broken.”

There was nothing the team could do about it at the time with his race engineer Pete Bonnington simply replying: “OK, copy.”

Hamilton later told DAZN: “Honestly I think I was braking into Turn 1 and then the seat just shifted, and my left butt cheek fell, basically.

“I think it just cracked, just snapped, something snapped, so then it was moving around for a while.

“Like my butt was in the air. On one side it was up in the air.”

He persevered with the problem to bring his W15 home in seventh place but was 50 seconds down on race winner Max Verstappen and four behind his team-mate Russell.

But according to Mercedes, Hamilton’s seat was “fine.” recommends

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

F1 fastest lap: Which drivers have won the most fastest lap points in F1 2024?

Breaking down Mercedes’ season-opener in Bahrain in the traditional debrief, Shovlin said: “We obviously got the car back, checked the seat straight away, and the seat was fine.

“Now, the seats are obviously designed to be able to be lifted out because in the event of an accident, the driver comes out in his seat. And ultimately, the thing that holds the seat in the car is the driver who’s strapped into his seat belts.

“The only thing we can think is that if Lewis was ever so slightly loose, he moved a bit and maybe the seat came up, had a little bit of motion and dropped down again, because looking at it afterwards, there’s no evidence that anything’s broken, that it was in the wrong position.

“But fundamentally that whilst it might be a bit uncomfortable for the driver if they’re not really rigidly located in the car, fundamentally a failure of the seat doesn’t mean that the driver can come loose out. So they’re always safe.

“But as I said, it looks like this was something very subtle that maybe there was a bit of motion, and then it settled down and was fine for the rest of the race.”

Read next: Max Verstappen and George Russell lead calls for major F1 car change due to health fears