Two-degree temperature rise led to Hamilton’s ‘tough position’ radio message RaceFans


The engine cooling problem that Lewis Hamilton says put him in a “tough spot” at the Australian Grand Prix was caused by a slight increase in ambient temperatures.

During the broadcast of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton was heard telling his team that they had put him in a “difficult position”. It later emerged that he was referring to the rising temperatures in his car, as he had been told to alter his driving to increase cooling.

Hamilton race engineer Pete Bonnington first told his driver he needed to “lift and coast” to bring his temperature down with about 10 race laps remaining.

Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles said the message was related to the temperature management of Hamilton’s car’s internal combustion engine.

“It was a question of engine cooling and power unit cooling during the race,” Vowles said in a video posted by Mercedes. “We push everything to the limit, as you can imagine, and one of them is engine cooling, and you do that by closing the body or changing the design of the louvers on the back of the car.”

The Formula 1 team must commit to their preferred cooling system well before the race, leaving them at the mercy of the weather forecast, Vowles said.

“That decision is made on Saturday but obviously we are racing on Sunday, 24 hours later, and in this particular circumstance the ambient temperature was one, maybe two degrees warmer than we expected and as a result we- ourselves – and not just ourselves, you would have heard from the teams up and down the grid – were at the limit of what the engine and power unit could handle in terms of cooling needs.

“During the race, when you follow a car, it meant Lewis had to compromise what he was doing,” Vowles explained. “He had to get some dirty air out of the car in front of him and make sure he had fresh, clean air through the radiators to bring down the PU temperatures, but that makes the car race in front of incredibly tough and that’s why its the message got out.”

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Hamilton radio messages at the end of the Australian Grand Prix

Knees Speaker Comment
46 hamilton I have a bulb in the left front.
46 Bonnington Yeah, copy we’ve seen, don’t think that’s a problem.
47 Bonnington George has 22.5.
48 Bonnington so Lewis, we need to introduce a small amount of lift and uphill for the PU times. The tires are good all the way.
48 hamilton [unclear]
49 Bonnington Lewis, if you’re talking about the fastest lap, we don’t think we can achieve it.
49 Bonnington George is 21.9 in the last round, 21.9.
50 Bonnington George 22.2.
51 Bonnington Perez had a lockout in turn 13 and is now doing 22.4.
52 Bonnington George at 22.0.
52 Bonnington A little extra for PU temporary workers. lift and coast
53 hamilton You put me in a really difficult position.
55 Bonnington And we have Alonso in front of George who is traffic.
57 Bonnington So one more round.
58 Bonnington So switch to strat one mode.
58 Bonnington Well done today buddy it’s P4. You just got lucky with the safety car.

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