Formula One: Mercedes need to sort out their starts

Austrian Mercedes motor sport boss Torger Christian "Toto" Wolff during the third practice session at the Hungaroring race track in Mogyorod on July 25, 2015.
Austrian Mercedes motor sport boss Torger Christian "Toto" Wolff during the third practice session at the Hungaroring race track in Mogyorod on July 25, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

BUDAPEST (REUTERS/GUARDIAN) - For the second race in a row it all went wrong at the start for Mercedes in Hungary and a rule change coming in after the August break will give the Formula One world champions even more to think about.

"We just had another crappy start, which was the root cause of all the other stuff that came afterwards," Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said in a frank assessment of Sunday's debacle.

Mercedes have started all 10 races this season on pole position, and have won eight of them, but for the first time this year they had no drivers on the podium.

The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen scythed past Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg when the start lights went out, just as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas had at Silverstone for Williams.

Mercedes were left on the back foot in Hungary, triggering a chain reaction that left world champion Hamilton - who also had a poor start in Austria - finishing sixth and Rosberg eighth while Vettel went on to win.

"We need to get on top of the situation. It is not acceptable and it needs to be analysed why it happened," said Wolff. "It is many various reasons, not one particular one."

Wolff said he thought a clutch calibration problem was to blame, with the cars suffering too much wheelspin.

The next race is Belgium and, to complicate matters, there will be restrictions on the amount of information teams can give drivers at the start and that could shake things up.

Ferrari technical head James Allison agreed that the opening seconds had been crucial on Sunday.

"If you get away well at the start and are in free air, and you can have your race without compromise, it makes a lot of difference," he said.

It certainly did for Hamilton, who said that while he supports the changes he believes they could prove to be "disastrous" when put into practice and will require adjustment.

Said the double world champion: "What goes on from after this race is going to be very interesting. I think they might underestimate how much they influence the races. The starts might not change or they might be disastrous. It could make more weaving, who knows?

"They might need to make changes to it. My guess is that it is not going to be the right thing and it is going to be adjusted. It is a good idea, though."

Rosberg, who has been comprehensively outpaced by Hamilton this season and trails him by 21 points in the drivers' world championship, has welcomed the changes and the new opportunity to compete with his team-mate.

"There will be more variables and it will be more difficult to predict," he said. "I like it because it gives me the opportunity to try and beat Lewis in that area. Until now it's been difficult because it was not really in the driver's hands."