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Hamilton's Clash with Leclerc A Battle of Understeer

Minor Contact with Leclerc Costs Hamilton Dearly

08/04/2024

Lewis Hamilton’s performance took a hit after minor contact with Charles Leclerc, leading to a struggle with understeer that significantly affected his race outcome.

Lewis Hamilton stated that his hopes for a strong finish in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix were significantly hampered by severe understeer due to damage from a first-lap clash with Charles Leclerc.

The Mercedes F1 driver had entered the Suzuka race hopeful that the team could capitalize on the promising potential shown during free practice with a new setup direction for the W15.

However, he was immediately set back after the race restarted following a red flag when a minor collision with Charles Leclerc in the first series of turns resulted in car damage.

This led to excessive understeer, explaining why he was so willing to let his teammate George Russell, who had caught up to him during the first stint, pass a few laps later.

“I can say, my car was never what I had hoped for. It’s not what we were aiming for.”

“I sustained too much damage in the first stint upon restarting with Charles, and I experienced massive understeer, the massive kind. That’s why I decided to let George pass, as he seemed faster.”

“I simply couldn’t get the car to turn, and it took us two stints to progressively adjust the front wing more and more to make up for the loss. In the last stint, I was better, but it was too late. I was 10 seconds behind, which was too much.”

Even though Hamilton was greatly encouraged by the regained confidence in the W15 brought about by Mercedes’ new setup direction, it’s clear he doesn’t leave Japan with much optimism.

“I don’t know if we can take many positives from the weekend. Both cars finished, which is good. But we’re 7th, 8th, or 9th in the race.”

Hamilton’s Clash with Leclerc: A Battle of Understeer. Hamilton’s Clash with Leclerc: A Battle of Understeer

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