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)”

  1. The wheel shown in comment 31 by Lee is not the real wheel. I don’t know if Hamilton pushed it or not but in the real wheel, I have seen it many times, it is in the top left.

    Answer to another question … the car would slow down very quickly with the speed limiter. Hard to believe but from the video and the timing it really looks like he pushed it.

    In any case Raikkonen deserved it more than any mercedes driver.

  2. McLaren’s website has this feature on the steering wheel: – Behind the wheel (external)

    And this clickable guide: – Interactive steering wheel (external)

  3. As I understand it, the steering wheel displayed on Mclaren’s site is last year’s model and the other link above (showing a replica) has the current configuration of buttons. In other words, I think it’s determined by now LH is pressing Neutral and nothing else. Though the video is inconclusive as to when LH presses it – that is, if he causes the car to slow down or reacts to the car slowing down – my impression is his action is very deliberate and determined, in sum: he did not cause the problem but reacted to it.

    Maybe I should add I always rooted for Kimi, so this pro-LH interpretation is not based on me being one of his fans.

  4. La Presse journalist now admits Hamilton did not speak to him. Other journalists were telling him what Hamilton had supposedly said to his engineers.

    Hamilton’s steering wheel had the Neutral button on the left side. This can be seen from the photos taken during the weekend. Even if he pressed the button accidentally before the problem occurred, it doesn’t explain why the problem lasted so long. I can only think it was a technical problem.

  5. What’s all the fuss about Hamilton? New boy on the block? I think not! How many other drivers can you name that have had the benefit of being sponsered and tutored by one of the world’s leading race teams.Untill we see the full introduction of professional 10 year old apprentice drivers there is no one with whom to compare Hamilton with. Untill then why not treat Hamilton as just another good driver who happened to have his F1 debut coincide with Mclaren’s most reliable season for quite some time and Ferrari’s most unreliable!!!! We won’t mention the spying will we?

  6. rather late i know but i’ve just come across this and for all of you who think hamilton caused this himself…. why on earth would he try and take a drink through a fast corner like that??? surely he’d be waiting for a straight or a less intense moment. the problem had already started to develop by the time this video starts.

  7. Andy – as you can see in an article linked to above there was a journalist who made up a quote claiming Hamilton admitted he had pressed a button on his steering wheel:

    Hamilton did not admit causing car failure in Brazil

    The journalist later admitted he made the quote up. Despite that many people continue to believe Hamilton’s problem was self-inflicted, particularly those who don’t like him…

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