Lewis Hamilton’s slow start at the Italian Grand Prix all but put paid to his chances of victory, but he says his poor getaway was not his fault.
The Brit had blown away the competition in Saturday’s qualifying to secure pole position at Monza, but found himself on the backfoot when he dropped to sixth by the first corner after struggling to get going when the lights went out.
It initially appeared that driver error was the cause, with Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff telling the BBC that: “Lewis came on the radio and said it was his mistake and we have to analyse it.”
However, after the race, the World Championship leader – who is a 1/4 favourite for the Drivers’ Championship title – said that his initial communication with the team had not been accurate.
“To be honest, I said that to reassure my engineers who I knew would be feeling nervous,” he explained.
“I don’t know what happened, l did everything as normal. I did the sequence exactly the same. I just got lots of wheel spin.”
Hamilton now appears to have passed all the blame to his car, with the triple World Champion stating after a post-race team debrief that a clutch problem caused the slow start.
“I’m told it wasn’t driver error, I’m told it wasn’t anyone’s error,” he has been quoted as saying by respected journalist Adam Cooper.
“We continue to have an inconsistency with our clutch. You’ve seen it with Nico in Hockenheim. It’s bit me quite a lot this year. I was told the procedure was done exactly how I was supposed to do it, but unfortunately we just over delivery of torque, and the wheels were just spinning from the get-go.”
He added: “Of course, we never stop improving and learning. Today we would have learned again. But yeah, this year has been a harder year for us with out clutch.
“They’ll be working very hard. It’s not a quick fix, something you can change for the next race. We have made improvements, so we have seen more consistent, better starts, but we are still caught out by the random variation that we have from one weekend to the other.
“We do practice starts all weekend, and they’re varying a little bit, and then we get a drastic variation on the grip.
“As I said you’ve seen it with Nico, you’ve seen it with me, quite a few times. It is something that we need to work on. I can assure you on Tuesday [in the factory] that’s the only thing we’ll be talking about, because everything else we’re doing really well.
“So we’ll be trying to work and give as much information, learn as much as we can, if there’s any more, to try and make sure in the next six or seven races… We’re not struggling with pole positions, it’s just getting off the line.”
Despite his issues at the start of the race, Hamilton was able to recover to finish second behind his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg. The result means that Hamilton’s gap at the top of the championship standings has been cut to just two points.
The 2016 season resumes on September 18 when the Formula 1 roadshow heads to Singapore.