Lewis Hamilton's front wing was broken early in the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, photographs of his car prove, as mystery surrounds suggestions that his second-lap collision with Fernando Alonso was down to an unexpected mechanical failure.
McLaren told autosport.com today that they stand by their explanation that the upper front wing of Hamilton's car broke two seconds before he ran into the back of Alonso on lap two at Bahrain.
They claim the breakage led to a sudden loss of downforce, which sucked Hamilton into Alonso's slipstream much quicker that he was likely anticipating.
The team suspect that the wing breakage was caused as the result of a collision Hamilton made with another car, believed to be Alonso, at Turn Four on the opening lap.
The team's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh said in a statement issued by the team: "It was only when I went into the engineers' room and started looking at the details that I realised Lewis's upper front wing had disappeared about two seconds before the accident, so he suddenly lost downforce."
However, onboard footage of Hamilton's car suggests that the bridge wing had broken, and parts of it flew off, as he exited Turn Four on the opening lap.
The damage has also been confirmed in photographs of Hamilton's car on the opening lap, clearly showing that the bridge wing was damaged early on.
Hamilton has already put the accident with Alonso down to a simple racing incident, and it is possible that the already broken wing could have affected his car's handling and drag levels.
With Alonso appearing to have a messy exit from Turn Two on the second lap, it is possible that Hamilton closed in on his rival much quicker than he expected, and was caught out as he tried to move around his rival.
Speaking after the race about what happened in the Alonso crash, Hamilton said: "I was behind him I went to move to the right and he went to move to the right as well and I ended up on the back somehow. It's racing."