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Mercedes chief Mike Elliott has explained why Lewis Hamilton said “sorry for the damage” on team radio in the immediate aftermath of the Italian Grand Prix. The Monza track wasn’t thought to favour Mercedes as much as Zandvoort the week prior, but Mercedes were still putting in fast times heading into the weekend.
But Hamilton’s chances of another podium took a heavy hit when he was forced to make multiple power unit component changes, pushing him to the back of the grid in Sunday’s race. The Brit had managed to outqualify his Mercedes team-mate for fifth on Saturday, only to start Sunday’s race in 19th.
He quickly managed to work his way up the field after managing his medium compound tyres while others ahead of him pitted. After putting on brand new softs for his one and only pit-stop, Hamilton once again made several moves before the race finished behind a Safety Car with the seven-time world champion taking fifth.
Hamilton praised the team for their efforts over the weekend on his radio after the race, but confused some when he apologised for “damage” to his car. There wasn’t any point during the Italian Grand Prix where Hamilton appeared to make any contact with another driver or take a blow to his car.
But Mercedes technical director Elliott has now given an explanation on what exactly Hamilton was apologising for. “I think Lewis was referring back to what had happened at Spa, where he tangled with Alonso at the beginning of the race,” he said on Mercedes’ YouTube channel.
“Taking himself out of the race, but also in the process damaging his power unit. Some damage we are still trying to fix and will allow us to bring is back later in the season.
“But time it takes to fix, that’s meant we’ve had to run an older PU at the last race in Zandvoort and this race we had to bring a new PU into the pool. That new PU meant we had to take a penalty and Lewis had to start at the back of the grid.
“I think he had a fantastic drive to come from the back of the field all the way up to fifth, with the car we’ve got, was a fantastic effort from Lewis. What I think Lewis was really apologising for was the fact that he knew if he’d have started where he qualified, he would have had an even better race and it was just simply that.”
In the 2022 F1 season, drivers are permitted to use three internal combustion engine [ICE] units throughout the year. Hamilton’s engine change for the Italian Grand Prix was his fourth of the year, along with other components being used, and saw him exceed the allocation for the season leading to his penalty.
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