Lewis Hamilton says he accidentally activated a switch that meant he only had front brakes restarting the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, causing him to go off from the lead with two laps to go.
Sergio Perez was leading as the race restarted after a red flag period but Hamilton — who had said over team radio he would need to judge how much risk to take — got the better launch and was clearly ahead approaching Turn 1. Hamilton then locked up and went straight on into the run-off area, dropping to the back of the field and failing to score, after activating a braking mode Mercedes calls “magic” on the restart.
“I hit some sort of switch which caused only the front brakes to work,” Hamilton explained. “There’s a button we have to warm the front brakes up and as Perez pulled over I reacted and accidentally latched on the switch and just locked up going straight, because I only had front brakes.”
The error meant Hamilton lost out on a likely 25 points that would have marked a major turnaround after Max Verstappen led most of the race but retired with a tire failure late on, and the seven-time world champion admits he’s left with mixed emotions as the points at the top of the standings remain unchanged.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult two races, and I think today it’s obviously a very painful experience. I think today was really a stroke of bad luck but Max had bad luck too and these sorts of things happen.
“Naturally, I’m very sorry to the team and we just regroup. But there’s lots of positives to take from the weekend in terms of where we recovered to get back to, and we’ll come back stronger.
“Clearly the Red Bull is the quickest at the moment — it was very, very hard to keep up with them today. So to have been in the mix and in that position was really amazing. It’s quite a humbling experience to come away with nothing after all the hard work but these things happen.”