Power unit issue leaves Hamilton ‘on the back foot’

Lewis Hamilton admitted that this afternoon’s power unit problems would leave him on the back foot heading into the Dutch Grand prix at Zandvoort.

Hamilton was quickest by 0.097s from Red Bull rival Max Verstappen in the morning session after completing 17 laps in a severely curtailed session that was red flagged for an extended period after Sebastian Vettel suffered an engine failure in his Aston Martin.

But in the afternoon it was Hamilton’s turn to pit problems, with a power loss just moments after he had completed his first flying lap of FP2 leaving the Mercedes parked by the side of the track at Mastersbocht.

  • Read also: Leclerc and Sainz top Dutch FP2 after Hamilton sidelined

The team subsequently confirmed that the telemetry had flagged up unusual behaviour in the oil system in Hamilton’s power unit.

“I just lost power so they just told me to stop,” Hamilton told the media after the end of practice. “It’s not the end of the world.”

The power unit involved was the original one used in Bahrain and therefore the oldest, so its loss won’t affect the team’s engine strategy for the rest of the season.

“This morning I only really got 20 minutes of running, obviously, with the red flag,” he continued. “Naturally that puts us on the back foot.

“I made some changes into the [afternoon] session, but I only got one lap with it so it’s very hard to [judge] good or bad points from that change.”

While Bottas only completed a total of 20 laps on Friday, his team mate Valtteri Bottas was able to get 51 laps in the books by the time the chequered flag came out at the end of FP2.

©Mercedes

“Valtteri looks like he had a good session so hopefully tomorrow we can make up for some of the time,” said Hamilton.

“We’ve got Valtteri who did a lot of running, lots of data analysis we have from all the long runs. Most other people did their long runs.

“He does a fantastic job and we’re not too far with set-up most of the time so hopefully the great work he’s done today will help.”

Hamilton still has one hour of final practice on Saturday morning to get fully up to speed, providing that traffic and red flags aren’t a factor.

“A clean lap I don’t think will necessarily be the main issue, for me it’s just catching up,” he added.

Despite not getting much track time on Friday, Hamilton said he was enjoying the new Zandvoort track although he admitted that overtaking was going to be difficult on Sunday.

“I knew it was great when I was in Formula 3, but it’s crazy in a Formula 1 car,” he said of the circuit, which hasn’t been on the Formula 1 calendar since 1980.

“The speed we’re going through turn seven, it’s a real racing circuit,” he explained. “I don’t think you’ll be able overtake here because it’s just high, high downforce, super-fast corners, which we probably won’t be able to follow through.

“It will be interesting to see,” he concluded. “Let’s hope that there’s a good strategy for Sunday.

“It’s been a beautiful day in terms of weather, it’s amazing to see the crowd,” he added. “There’s so many people here and it’s good to see people here.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen the full – well, not full yet, as we’ll see it in the next two days – energy that the Dutch fans bring.”

Those largely Verstappen-supporting fans gave full voice to a big cheer that went up when Hamilton’s car crawled to a halt, but so far the crowd response to all the drivers has been good natured.

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