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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. It’s not unheard of – in fact it happened to Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren at Interlagos in ’99.

  2. I have just got access to the Onboard footage of Brazil, while the event when Lewis suffers the incident is missed, I have scanned through the footage when he comes into the pits it appears his pit lane speed limiter is on the right hand side of the steering wheel. so the opposite hand that we are all debating about in this clip. If anyone has been able to see this footage it would be good to get some clarification on this matter so stop all this hear say.

  3. Just looked at it again, the button on the left hand side, the one we are looking at in this clip is used in the combination before he enters the box. Perhaps a Neutral button??? Hmmm!

  4. “I just find it difficult to believe that a mechanical malfunction could occur before lap 10 and then NEVER re-occur later.HMPH.”

    Didn’t a similar situation happen to Michael Schumacher once, also at Brazil? I seem to remember (2000 or 2001 I think) that while he was leading he suddenly fell way off pace due to a technical problem, which were resolved on the same lap and he was able to get back up to speed. But I can’t remember what year or what the exact problem was.

  5. Page 22 of last weeks Autosport has a replica Mclaren steering wheel for sale. The button on the left hand side is N for Neutral or D for Drink. The PLS (Pit Lane Speed limiter) is on the right hand side. Sorry to hang around on this – just want to conclude – if the action in the video is anything, it is Lewis pressing the Neutral or Drink button, the rest we have to take with a pinch of salt if it is true or not.

  6. Guys Hamilton addmitted that he hit the wrong button by mistake. He flat out said it was his fault not mechanical. or at least that is what I read. But until I hear it from someone else I am suspect.

  7. Maybe Lewis think that behind that bend was pitlane :}

  8. The fact the fault didnt re-occur & that Hamilton straight away put in some blinding lap times kind of supports the wrong button press idea.. It’s easily done, of course, as i know from experience. Only the other day on my car’s steering wheel i meant to turn the volume down only to press the track advance button… What a nightmare that was!! ;)

  9. oh, this time it is Dailymotion, not YouTube :-)

    it is really difficult to tell… I do not see any reason for Hamilton to tell what really happened. But with McLaren to supply ECUs next year they should be keen to blame it on human error. if McLaren comes out and say it was not mistake of Hamilton, I am kind of inclined to believe them this time

  10. Back in the days when there was real racing and cars had real gearshifts, the drivers used to miss a gear occasionally and that led to other guys overtaking them. What’s that? Oh, overtaking – it’s when one car goes by another. It used to happen sometimes in those days.

    But to return to the point: I find it heartening that F1 has found a way to duplicate this amazing effect. :D

  11. Conflicting info as to how the buttons are arranged, though N or P seems to be candidates – compare image on Mclarens site: it has the reverse arrangement with the speed-limiter to the left. A matter of driver preference perhaps. Anyway I lean toward human error, more often than not mechanical glitches return and/or gets worse.

  12. Thanks Lee from for the steering wheel.

    It is easier now to believe that the entire canadian news story was a fabrication by just looking at the steering wheel. And this updated article from Mclaren, confirms the original belief that it was a gearbox issue.

    You can clearly see Hamilton hitting the neutral button as he couldnt find any gears.
    Seems there is a conspiracy somewhere to just give Hamilton bad press however possible.

  13. Hear, Hear Oliver!!

  14. oliver, i’m not sure that it’s a conspiracy.

    lewis has the ability to polarise opinion in the way that schumacher once did. look at the comment count on this site for posts relating to lewis versus someone like barichello.

    look at the impact the guy has made this season, it doesn’t matter who you ask, everyone has something to say about him.

    and i’m liking the debate(s).

  15. i know driver press the speed limit button right before entering the pit lane, when the car is already running at a slow speed (close to the speed limt). i was curios, if he did press that button in race he was doing probably 200 km/h, so whan that button is press, the car gradualy slows down or it brakes very hard ???

  16. Hamilton sucks, and it hurts me because I’m English! But the truth is that he is a SPOILED LITTLE KID.

  17. Sidepodcast:

    Yes I agree with you, that hamilton does polarize opinion. I sometimes wonder, who started it first, the side that says he is not good, or the side that says he is too good. Concerning Barichello, what exactly are we supposed to write about? Maybe its a coincidence, but since he joined Honda, they have got slower.

  18. I wouldn’t agree with your Rubens-Honda comment, oliver. Remember, they won last year (Rubens’ 1st with them). It’s just that it was Jenson who won.

    As for Hamilton as a polarizer, isn’t that the case with all the greats? Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher, Mansell, Senna, Prost, Piquet, Lauda…

  19. Journeyer:

    Barichello statement was actually joke. I like him.

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