Video: Did Hamilton cause his gearbox problem? (updated)

Here’s the onboard video showing the moment when Lewis Hamilton’s car suddenly slowed during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

It seems the McLaren driver may have caused the problem himself by accidentally hitting the pit lane speed limiter button with his left thumb.

The button is the second from the left on the steering wheel. Watch the video below and judge for yourself…

Hamilton reportedly admitted that he made a mistake, but McLaren have denied he made the remarks.

Update: McLaren have explained what happened to Hamilton:

“We can confirm that the temporary gear shifting problem Lewis suffered on lap eight of the Brazilian Grand Prix was due to a default in the gearbox that selected neutral for a period of time. It was not as a result of Lewis pressing an incorrect button on his steering wheel.”

“It was a gearbox problem, and it went into forced-neutral and changing down seemed to rectify it – it might be mechanical, but we doubt it. If it was something mechanical, they usually don’t fix themselves. It could be electronics software – but there’s no evidence in the analysis to support that. Could be a sensor – but again, there’s no evidence in the data recordings.

“So it would appear that the barrels that change gear went out of control – and out of control of the driver – and that’s probably hydraulic.

“That could be either a very small Moog servo control valves that were interfered with by a tiny piece of debris or they are sensitive to magnetic interference – something generated a magnetic field which caused the valve to misbehave.”

Update 2: Hamilton did not admit causing car failure in Brazil

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48 comments on Video: Did Hamilton cause his gearbox problem? (updated)

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  1. oooh, great find. 10 out of 10 sir.

    ron’s really going to appreciate another trial by YouTube :)

  2. Scott Joslin said on 23rd October 2007, 12:45

    I think the car is slowing down already at that stage. Hamilton said he happened as soon as he exited turn 4, the response by hamilton to press buttons would be to the decrease in speed hw was experiencing. We also don’t understand if that is the pitlane speed limit button or if pressing it with a combination of buttons creates other functions.

    listening to the sound of the engine is a key point – It is very different to when the speed limiter is on, this sounds like a miss fire, in this situation is sounds very different.

    I would say unconclusive

  3. Captain Caveman said on 23rd October 2007, 12:48

    So it looks like lewis does have a lot in common with nigel mansell.

    Both lost the championship on the last race and both have managed to effectively lose drive by their own actions.

    1991 Canadian Grand Prix ring a bell :-)

  4. Journeyer said on 23rd October 2007, 13:23

    Well, Scott, Lewis said the gearbox shutdown right at the apex of turn 4. Since the slowing down began at the exit of turn 4 (i.e. after the apex), it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was caused by a wrong press of the button.

    Just a thing here: why is McLaren’s ECU prone to human error? The programmers shouldn’t leave those loopholes in the system. The button might as well be labeled ‘self-destruct’!

    P.S. Isn’t it McLaren who will supply the standard F1 ECUs next year? Just a thought.

  5. Journeyer said on 23rd October 2007, 13:25

    Captain Caveman, Nigel’s error in 1991 didn’t really lose him the title. Williams’ unreliability in general did.

    On the other hand, his 1986 title hopes ended with a tire blow – which was ultimately out of his controls.

  6. oliver said on 23rd October 2007, 13:31

    Well he wasn’t waving to the crowd in this instance so Nigel’s remains undisputed.

    This video does appear to be of scenes after the event may have occured.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd October 2007, 13:33

    Judging by the sudden speed with which the cars in front start to draw away from him, I don’t agree.

  8. David said on 23rd October 2007, 14:05

    But Lewis admits it was his fault! That is conclusive.

  9. Kollo said on 23rd October 2007, 14:10

    Autosport.com editors believe Hamilton’s comments published in the french-language Canadian newspaper were not real.

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd October 2007, 14:11

    Regarding comment 8, the veracity of the quote is disputed. Hence, “Hamilton reportedly admitted.” Which is presumably why it’s not received widespread coverage yet.

  11. Here we go, another litany of “Hamilton can do no wrong” posts. You lot defend him more than you would your own mother.

  12. oliver said on 23rd October 2007, 14:49

    Keith:

    Yes you are correct about the sudden change of speed

    Mclaren are saying it wasnt a wrong input from the driver thats responsible. And even before the commencement of the race, the team had to open up his gearbox for some last minute inspection, cause they feared a fault was developing.

    Regarding the video, we see Hamilton going through a seqeunce of down changes. Before he reached the corner he apparently didnt have any drive and thats even before he pressed any buttons apart from the paddle shifts. Although I may turn out wrong eventually. But that did look like a deliberate action.

    But I am sure in a few weeks time we will have the true facts. So I wont be speculating on this one any more.

  13. Begs the question of why is a button of such nature so easily depressed when performing a gear shift?

  14. To me he looks like he is keeping up okay with the cars in front until he turns the corner and presses the button – but at the end of the day without the co-operation of FOM so we can get a better view of things, and without the honesty of McLaren and Hamilton, we will never know what happened for sure.

    It’s a bad sign that we have heard from McLaren yet simply don’t believe them!

  15. nellyweb said on 23rd October 2007, 17:04

    This is the problem thought isn’t it?

    McLaren have now stated what happened but people would rather believe an uncorroborated story in a Canadian newspaper rather than from the team.

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