Mercedes look to clutch hardware for cause of poor starts


Following poor starts for both its drivers during the first two rounds of the 2016 Formula One World Championship, Mercedes believe that their clutch hardware is the culprit, and are investigating the source of the issue with parent company Daimler.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both got off to slow beginnings at the Australian Grand Prix, with the new clutch rules brought in for 2016 adding an extra dimension of unpredictability to the drivers start procedure. They now have a one paddle clutch system instead of the two paddle system in place last year, with the role of the second paddle previously being to aid drivers with launch off the start line.

To complicate matters further for Mercedes, different issues have affected each of their driver’s poor starts. In Melbourne both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg got bogged down and were beaten to the first corner by the two Ferrari’s, where as in Bahrain the German selected second gear by mistake, which caused the W07 Hybrid to anti-stall. The Brit on the other hand is said to have reacted slowly to the lights at the Sakhir circuit, which saw him get caught up in an incident with the quickly advancing Valtteri Bottas, who in comparison had experienced a brilliant getaway.

Mercedes Motorsport Boss, Toto Wolff believes the problems are down to the clutch hardware and is confident they and Daimler will be able to find a fix, hopefully before China, but is aware it may take longer to pinpoint the exact issue. Speaking to Autosport.com the Austrian advised:

“We are working on trying to sort it out. The way we assess clutches and the way we run and calibrate them, and obviously how the drivers use them, needs to be optimised.”

“Mainly the collaboration with Daimler is around optimising the hardware and that needs a little bit of time. I am not sure yet when we will have results.”

“Remember we have these new clutches and new start procedures in order to make it more variable, and this is what we have had in Melbourne and Bahrain.”

“And what’s happening between Lewis and Nico is random. When you look at Nico’s start on the formation lap, he made a mistake. He chose second gear and went into anti-stall, so all it is down to is a change in the regulation.”

Neither Mercedes driver appears to be too worried about the issue, and with Rosberg taking victory in both Australia and Bahrain, and the German marque leading the way in the Constructor’s championship, it could just be down to coincidence that the Silver Arrows boys have faltered thus far.