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. johannes said on 24th October 2007, 17:27

    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.

    http://www.mclaren.com/features/technical/interactive_steering_wheel.php

  2. oliver said on 24th October 2007, 18:33

    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.

  3. Scott Joslin said on 24th October 2007, 23:30

    Hear, Hear Oliver!!

  4. 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).

  5. RoveR said on 25th October 2007, 9:00

    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 ???

  6. Siegfried said on 25th October 2007, 9:09

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

  7. oliver said on 25th October 2007, 10:06

    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.

  8. Journeyer said on 25th October 2007, 10:36

    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…

  9. oliver said on 25th October 2007, 10:52

    Journeyer:

    Barichello statement was actually joke. I like him.

  10. Peter said on 25th October 2007, 12:27

    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.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th October 2007, 12:46

    McLaren’s website has this feature on the steering wheel:

    McLaren.com – Behind the wheel (external)

    And this clickable guide:

    McLaren.com – Interactive steering wheel (external)

  12. johannes said on 25th October 2007, 13:05

    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.

  13. Kollo said on 25th October 2007, 16:06

    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.

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