Mercedes has showed an image of Lewis Hamilton’s broken flap adjuster which required a front wing change during the F1 Austrian GP.
While Mercedes suffered through overheating issues due to down-size radiators in F1 Austrian GP weekend at Red Bull Ring, Hamilton had another issue to deal with, after he ran a bit too much kerb, especially at Turn 10 which damaged his front wing.
Post-race, Andrew Shovlin revealed it to be a flap adjuster, as his car started to lose significant amount of downforce. In a post-race debrief, Shovlin has elaborated more on the decision to change the wing of Hamilton which cost them additional time.
Mercedes also carried an image of the broken flap adjuster. “He was running on the kerb in Turn 10, the flap adjuster broke,” said Shovlin. “That’s the thing we use to change the angle of the flaps on the left and right side of the wings.
“That changes how much downforce it produces and this is one of the main tools, the drivers and the engineers use to balance the car. They try to put more load on the front. When it broke on the kerb, it dropped down and it only dropped by few degrees.
“But then it means, he has got understeer in all those fast corners. There were two things that we are talking about – ‘do we come in and go maximum amount of wing on the other side to improve the balance or do we change the nose?’
“We were looking at the readings that we were getting on that wing, trying to understand if there was range to do it, just by adding some more wing on the other side of the car and it was quite clear that wouldn’t be enough.
“So that’s why then we had to take the pit stop which is about an addition eight seconds but overall that would be quicker than the race as a whole, because Hamilton would be slower by at least half a second per lap.”
As a result of an additional time lost in the pit stop, Hamilton lost out to eventual winner Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and it did contribute to him losing out to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the end too. The biggest reason, though, was overheating.
Elaborating on that, Shovlin said: “Fundamentally, the car doesn’t have big enough radiators. That’s something that we were a bit optimistic about how much we could get out of the cooling system – it’s underdelivered to what we hoped we could achieve.
“It meant that we are carrying this issue that in the very hot races we will be struggling to keep everything cool enough, principally to keep the power unit cool enough that we don’t do any damage to it.
“You can increase the amount of cooling that you get out of the car by opening up the bodywork exits, and in Austria it was 35 degrees, that actually put us at the upper end of what we could achieve just by opening the car up, so we were on limit.
“When you get to that point, you are really limited in your options. You can start to use lift and coast, which is where the drivers get towards the end of the straight and they back off the throttle, they then brake a bit later.
“And then you have a period where the car is just coasting into the corner. The engine is not doing work and you can lose a fair bit of temperature by doing that. But as you saw in the race, we were having to ask our drivers to increase that to around 400 metres per lap.
“And that’s why they were so compromised on performance. You can also turn the engine down a bit, then it will generate less heat, but you’ve got loss power and you are slower on the straights. It was definitely a significant limitation in Austria.
“And we are working on systems. We were working on them before Austria to try and improve this problem, and we should be in a better position. But it all really goes down to the fundamental design of the car, where in the push for very tight packaging, we have been undercooled overall.”
Here’s how the F1 Austrian GP panned out which includes stewards decision
Max Verstappen, Red Bull plus Ferrari talk when win was possible
Frederic Vasseur cuts Antonio Giovinazzi’s hairs after his first point
Lando Norris enjoyed brief battle with Lewis Hamilton in Austria
Honda thankful for Austria win as Christian Horner targets Ferrari now
Dutch fan wins incredible F1 prediction game for Austria
Fernando Alonso speaks on Honda’s win and McLaren’s performance
Valtteri Bottas says overheating issue was more than expected