That’s why Lewis Hamilton drove with sensors in Australia

It is by no means unusual for Formula 1 teams to attach additional sensors to their cars on weekends in order to collect data for further development. However, it rarely happens that these sensors that are not required for the use of the car are not removed even in qualifying and racing.

That’s what happened at the Australian Grand Prix, on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 W13 E Performance car. Sensors that were not installed on George Russell were visible on the sidewalls under the chassis and under the car. And that means some extra weight for Hamilton.

The glowing sensor on the bottom of Hamilton’s W13, which was supposed to measure ground clearance, was particularly stunning. Apparently, Mercedes expected meaningful data on the behavior of “porpoises”, which is still considered the single biggest problem of the “Silver Arrow”.

“The car is really fat anyway.”

“In a normal year, we wouldn’t even consider leaving such sensors on the car,” admits chief strategist James Fowles in Mercedes’ current strategy video for the Melbourne GP at the weekend.

“It usually puts in exactly the sensors that you need to understand what’s going on. But this year is clearly not a normal year for us and the car is really overweight.”

Hamilton finished fourth behind Russell in Albert Park after falling behind his teammate during the pit stop, who was able to complete his tire change under safe car conditions.

Although Hamilton was able to catch Russell at the end of the race, overheating issues prevented the seven-time world champion from attacking. According to Vowles, it’s not uncommon for the two cars’ weight to differ marginally, just because of the sheer number of different parts, which can’t be exactly the same weight.

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Hardly any extra weight due to sensors

The additional sensors in Hamilton didn’t matter: “There are thousands of components that make up the race cars for George and Lewis, and these components cannot have exactly the same weight,” Fowles explains.

“It’s a few grams here and a few grams there, but when our cars were weighed on the FIA ​​scales it showed that the difference was really only a few grams. So the time Lewis lost through the sensors was very slight. And that’s exactly what we had in mind. “.

Vowles stresses that the data collected by the sensors is useful, however: “It’s not like we’re going to turn everything upside down and have the solution ready in one sprint. But at least we’ve found evidence and an understanding of what needs to be done moving forward.”

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