x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Problem puts brakes on Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton admits he has not gotten comfortable with his car at Mercedes and Lotus principal Eric Boullier says the German team will most likely face a penalty for their allegedly illegal test with Pirelli.

Lewis Hamilton is having an issue getting comfortable with the feel of the braking system on his Mercedes, something that is not bothering his teammate, Nico Rosberg.
Lewis Hamilton is having an issue getting comfortable with the feel of the braking system on his Mercedes, something that is not bothering his teammate, Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton believes he has to regain the confidence of everyone at Mercedes GP after admitting to a braking problem that has been a drag on his campaign.

Hamilton has identified the reasons behind his lack of pace, relative to his teammate and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg, and said he has suffered a season-long issue with braking that has affected his confidence in the car.

"It's all about my feeling in the car. I'm confident the car is a great one. Nico has proven that with his victory in Monaco," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

"But you have to feel at one with the car, and I'm definitely not feeling at one with it at the moment, and it's all in the braking.

"Never in my life have I had brake problems, or a lack of confidence in the brakes, since I started out in karts at five years old. This is the first time I've experienced it, so it has caught me a little off guard.

"When you brake it's all about the feel through your boot, the reaction of the car when you hit the brakes. There are so many different things that give you that confidence.

"When I was at McLaren we worked on the brakes for a long time, we got it right and it was the same for six years.

"Here at Mercedes we're working on it. It's not unfixable.

"I can change them if I want or I can just get used to them, and I prefer to grab a hold of it, get used to them and do a good job."

Hamilton's problems could be brought into focus this weekend: Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is renowned as a track tough on brakes.

Although Hamilton knows how to win at this circuit, having taken the chequered flag on three occasions, he appreciates circumstances might be different this weekend.

"This track is all about late-braking. I've always been the latest of brakers, which is why I've been so successful here," he said.

"I've always been strong here in a car I've felt confident in. I now have a car I don't particularly feel comfortable in.

"While it's a great car, I can't say I've just clicked with it like that."

Although Rosberg and Hamilton can expect to be quick again over one lap in qualifying today, the high-speed race pace tomorrow could yet prove their undoing if the team's tyres degradation woes return.

Hamilton would not mind a rain-soaked race.

"A wet track will help because you don't have to be so aggressive on the brakes," he said.

Meanwhile, the Lotus team principal Eric Boullier firmly believes Mercedes will be sanctioned following their tyre test with Pirelli.

The FIA decided on Wednesday that Mercedes should face an international tribunal after seemingly contravening the sporting regulations.

The hearing has been called after Red Bull and Ferrari protested Mercedes's use of a 2013 car to assist Pirelli in a 1,000-kilometre test, predominantly of next year's tyres, in Barcelona in mid-May.

Should Mercedes be found guilty, a range of penalties is open to the tribunal.

A points deduction is thought the most likely punishment.

Boullier was content the matter was being pursued.

"It's good to have a hearing, parties talking officially, and then we will see the outcome of this," he said.

"But there is clearly a breach somewhere, and then you expect to see a sanction.

"Fundamentally, for me there is a big issue, which is a breach of the sporting code.

"Testing is banned. You have a sporting code and a testing agreement signed by all the teams. Clearly, testing today is key in some way. Limited mileage forces you to change the process you design your car, the way you race.

"So by doing testing you have a serious gain of the understanding of the tyres, and that's something which is not fair."


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