Mercedes tech boss James Allison says the floor damage suffered by Lewis Hamilton following his first lap tangle with Max Verstappen in Mexico cost the Briton an estimated 7 seconds.
Hamilton and Verstappen made contact in Turn 1 shortly after the start and the result was a big piece of the ‘wouvre panel’ located on the Mercedes W10’s floor flying off.
However, perfect strategy and a flawless drive by the reigning world champion allowed Hamilton to secure his tenth win of the season.
“When Lewis and Verstappen tangled at the start there was actually a reasonable amount of damage to Lewis’s car in the subsequent collision,” Allison explained in the team’s Pure Pitwall debrief on Youtube.
“If you watch the race footage carefully, you’ll just see a strip of bodywork flying up past the camera and that strip of bodywork was a piece of Lewis’s floor disappearing from the scene.
“That strip of bodywork is a thing we call the ‘wouvre panel’ and it runs down the outside edge of the floor.
“There was also a little bit of damage to the front wing endplate and these two things combined to give Lewis a loss of aerodynamic downforce equivalent to about 0.1s per lap.”
While the loss in performance per lap may have appeared marginal, it amounted to quite a significant amount of time of the course of the entire race as Allison underlined.
“It might not sound a lot but if you remember that the race is 70 laps long, then over the course of that entire race, that’s worth about seven seconds.
“Remembering that at the end of the race Lewis was less than two seconds in front of Vettel, you can see that those seven seconds are a meaningful amount.
“It adds emphasis to the fact this was a very fine, very controlled drive that Lewis put in on Sunday, able to stay ahead of the Ferrari, showing good pace and good consistency despite carrying that damage throughout.”