Lewis Hamilton crashes new Mercedes F1 car at Jerez
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, January 28th 2014, 12:11 GMT|
Mercedes suffered an early setback in Formula 1 pre-season testing at Jerez on Tuesday when Lewis Hamilton crashed the new W05.
The Brackley-based team had appeared to have gained a headstart on the opposition, with its new car completing the most laps during a slow start to 2014 running.
But at 12.41pm Hamilton's car suffered a front wing failure at the braking area for Turn 1, sending him into the barriers.
According to onlookers, the wing broke and slipped underneath Hamilton's front wheels, meaning he could not steer or brake effectively to bring his car under control.
Hamilton's car speared head first in to the barriers on the outside of the corner, sustaining damage to the nose area and front suspension.
The former world champion was uninjured in the crash though, and returned to the pits shortly afterwards.
It is unclear how long the damage will take to repair, but with teams struggling to get their new cars ready for the first test it may be that Mercedes is unable to get going again before Wednesday.
Technical expert Gary Anderson
From what we have seen, it seems the Mercedes front wing problem was caused by a front wing pillar failure.
Normally, one side would fail first and that would lead to the other side breaking, or peel it from its fixings.
From the debris, it appears that one pillar in the remains of the wing is longer than the other, suggesting that is what happened.
The work you do in the factory is all about designing components to take the loads you expect to see at the tracks.
But the endplates can get very close to the kerbs so it's possible to put abnormal loads through them that you don't see in simulation.
It is uncommon for a team to miscalculate something like this because it's a simple load versus strength equation.
So Mercedes will be disappointed this happened after 40kms at Silverstone last Friday and 18 laps here at Jerez.
It's possible there could be a fundamental problem, which is why you have to be very careful about just bolting on the spare front wing and going back out, particularly as it's highly unlikely they would bring a stronger part as a spare just in case.
It could be that Lewis Hamilton clouted a kerb far harder than he should have, but it will be difficult to be absolutely certain about that.
You don't take risks with safety-sensitive components, particularly ones that generate 70-80 per cent of the front end downforce and 25-30 per cent of overall car downforce.
So Mercedes will take its time to analyse this very closely before sending the car back out.