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Jerez testing: Lewis Hamilton crashes on day one

Thursday, 7 February 2013 - 4:20pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Team principal Ross Brawn, whose own future is far from certain with the arrival of Niki Lauda as non-executive chairman and Toto Wolff as head of motorsport, did not need it.

It was not exactly the start Lewis Hamilton was looking for. After the contentious move from McLaren to Mercedes over the winter, his first day in the car was meant to be all about getting his head down and his miles driven up.

Instead it ended in less than two hours and after a few exploratory laps when rear brake failure caused the 2008 world champion to lose control at 160mph, career across a gravel trap and plough into a tyre wall.

Fortunately for Hamilton, who admitted that his "legs took a bit of a thump" he had slowed to 35mph by the time he hit the barrier. "I hit the brake, and for a split second it was working, then the pedal just went straight down. It wouldn't work any more," he said. "Then I just had to brace for impact."

That impact was nothing like the crash he had at the Nurburgring in his rookie year in 2007 when his tyre burst and he had to be stretchered to the medical centre. "That was a lot more painful," he admitted. "Fortunately, I've had lots of crashes in my career and I've been able to bounce back and overcome them, so I'm not fazed by it." The real pain was the time lost on the track and seeing his battered W04 being winched on to a tow truck.

It has been a disastrous two days for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg's aborted outing on Tuesday, with electrical failure, means the two drivers have mustered less than 30 laps of winter testing. Mark Webber, for Red Bull, has clocked up almost 200 laps.

In a sport where testing days are so restricted - there are just 10 more allowed before the first grand prix in Melbourne on March 17 - track time is crucial. Mercedes, it is fair to say, are already on the back foot.

Team principal Ross Brawn, whose own future is far from certain with the arrival of Niki Lauda as non-executive chairman and Toto Wolff as head of motorsport, did not need it.

"We were looking at the computer and seeing other people doing 70 or 80 laps and we should be doing the same," Hamilton admitted. "What's happened is disappointing for all of us in the team because everyone has worked so hard over the winter."

Rosberg is due back in the car today. Hamilton said he would be in at 7.30am for tomorrow's engineering meeting when it is his turn and crossing his fingers that there are no more setbacks.

"We just need to hammer it and try and get as many laps as possible," he said. "If we can get 110 to 120 laps per day then that would be a good comeback. You have got to keep looking forward and remain positive. Better now than at the last test at Barcelona."

 


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