Mercedes F1 team feared Hamilton would suffer Mexican GP failure

Mercedes feared Lewis Hamilton would suffer a suspension failure that would have ended his 2016 Formula 1 title hopes in the Mexican Grand Prix

Mercedes F1 team feared Hamilton would suffer Mexican GP failure

Hamilton got away from the line cleanly in Mexico City, but locked his front-right significantly entering Turn 1, and had to take to the grass and cut the second corner.

ANALYSIS: Why Mexico was a bad race for Hamilton

The lock-up flatspotted the tyre, which caused a severe vibration Hamilton said "rattled his brains", as Mercedes weighed up bringing him in early on safety grounds against the damage it would have done to his race strategy and title hopes.

It eventually pitted Hamilton on lap 17, three laps before team-mate Nico Rosberg who also started on the soft compound.

"He badly flatspotted the tyre, and the vibration metrics were scary from the beginning," Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said.

"Simon [Cole, chief race engineer], Paddy [Lowe] and I had quite a conversation on the radio as to whether we should pit him for safety reasons.

"In any other race we would have pitted him and lost the race, but we kept him out there in order to not draw the championship away from him.

"Every single lap, every single straight, we monitored the vibrations.

"We pitted him a bit earlier because the vibration metrics were going sky high and a suspension failure could have easily happened.

"That was the earliest we could have pitted him. Everything else would have destroyed the race.

"It wasn't a comfortable situation we found ourselves in to make that call, weighing up the championship versus a failure on the suspension."

The call proved the right one, with Hamilton going on to take the 51st win of his F1 career, but Rosberg finished second and still holds a 19-point advantage with two races left.

Rosberg can now wrap up the title in next month's Brazilian Grand Prix, if he wins at Interlagos.

"For Nico it's maybe beneficial now. He has it in his hands," Wolff said.

"If he wins the race in Brazil he wins the championship early. This is maybe a bit easier in terms of tackling the situation, with a little less pressure because he still has another shot in Abu Dhabi.

"It's really interesting, and it's great for the fans what is happening for the championship."

Rosberg was off Hamilton's pace in Mexico, and had to withstand intense pressure from Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the race, but Wolff believes he still had a strong weekend.

"He managed that [the pressure from Verstappen] well," said Wolff.

"We have seen many races where Nico has coped well under pressure. This is one of his very strong points.

"I don't know how difficult it is, I can't just guess, to manage a situation where you know you just need to finish second, so I think he is doing a good job."

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