Start changes worry Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton driving out of the pits at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was on the back foot in Budapest on Sunday after another poor start, eventually salvaging sixth place after an error-strewn display.
Lewis Hamilton driving out of the pits at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was on the back foot in Budapest on Sunday after another poor start, eventually salvaging sixth place after an error-strewn display.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

F1 leader expects more chaos as new rules come into force from next Grand Prix

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton is bracing himself for the same startline chaos that cost him the chance of victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix for the rest of what could be a tumultuous season.

New rules banning the significant electronic aids and guidance from the pitwall that help drivers to make quick getaways come into force from the next Grand Prix, in Belgium on Aug 23.

Hamilton has suffered terrible starts at the past two races. He recovered to win the British Grand Prix, but he put in one of the most erratic performances of his career in Budapest on Sunday. Hamilton described his race to sixth as "laughable".

However, he believes that starts will now be crucial and predicted that the first few seconds of the final nine races this year could verge on chaos as drivers struggle to judge how their cars are behaving.

On Sunday, Hamilton's clutch overheated after a false start and he found himself going into the first corner from pole position four abreast with Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes team-mate, and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel, who won the race, and Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton dismissed fears that too many cars suffering uncontrollable starts could be dangerous, but said: "I expect more unpredictable starts. I imagine it is going to get worse. It's not dangerous, it's racing."

The startline ban is the first sign that Formula One is acting to curb the power of engineers with their laptops over the drivers.

The constant radio messages that help drivers to control their £1 million (S$2.1 million) machines will also be curbed, forcing the drivers to nurse their cars alone, starting from the Belgian Grand Prix on the epic Spa circuit.

"I imagine the starts in Spa will be a lot like this," Hamilton said. "It would have been a different race (in Hungary) if I had a good start, but how I reacted was not the correct way."

The Briton, however, still leads the drivers' standings with 202 points. He is 21 points ahead of Rosberg and has a 42-point advantage over Vettel.

Still, Vettel, buoyed by his second win of the season following victory in Malaysia, has not given up on his title hopes.

"There is still a lot of work to do to catch up but you never know," the four-time world champion told the BBC.

"I am sure we will try absolutely everything and try to make the impossible possible. The best way to do that is remain calm and try to do your best and then we see where the journey takes us."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Start changes worry Hamilton'. Print Edition | Subscribe