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)

  1. MacademiaNut said on 23rd October 2007, 17:50

    The ECU is a collaboration with Microsoft, what do you expect! :)

    Sorry couldn’t resist.

  2. Kollo said on 23rd October 2007, 19:35

    A source close to the Hamilton family has described the report as “absolute rubbish”, telling that Hamilton has not spoken to the Canadian newspaper or said anything as such to anyone.

  3. carlos said on 23rd October 2007, 20:31

    I do not know if true or false, but still there is a lot of information about it in the canadian press.
    In Italy also it is being published as true.
    In Spain there is the same information, but also they comment that McLaren denies the canadian source as legitimate because Hamiton has not spoken to the canadian newspaper.

  4. Re comments 2,6,7,14
    This video is a replay during the race broadcast.
    The sound we hear is not Lewis car. (watch the passing cars – the 3rd one doesn’t make a sound and after the 4th there is anoter pasing car’s sound with no car). The sound is from cars passing by the commentators box start/finish probably (Lewis as well at that time, as Allen says that it sounds OK).
    His finger does coincide with the car slowing down. But it’s quite hard to believe that there is such an easy way to kill his speed. Maybe whilst adjusting something (as they do all the time), it triggerd the mulfunction…or if there is such button then maybe…
    If he admits to it and it gets confirmed then end of story.

  5. openwheelfan said on 23rd October 2007, 21:55

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

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd October 2007, 22:07

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

  7. Scott Joslin said on 23rd October 2007, 22:28

    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.

  8. Scott Joslin said on 23rd October 2007, 22:34

    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!

  9. Eric M. said on 23rd October 2007, 23:08

    “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.

  10. Scott Joslin said on 23rd October 2007, 23:14

    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.

  11. openwheelfan said on 24th October 2007, 1:53

    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.

  12. dimitrije said on 24th October 2007, 8:41

    Maybe Lewis think that behind that bend was pitlane :}

  13. AndyJ said on 24th October 2007, 9:36

    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!! ;)

  14. 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

  15. 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

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