F1 2014: Hamilton crashes out of winter testing in Jerez, Spain

The new Mercedes F1 W05 car on track [Daimler - Mercedes-Benz]

The new Mercedes F1 W05 car on track [Daimler - Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Archant

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton took the new Mercedes F1 W05 car for its first public spin in pre-season winter testing in Spain today (Tuesday) – and ended up crashing into the barriers.

The 29-year-old F1 driver from Hertfordshire took the wraps off the 2014 Silver Arrows challenger this morning with colleague Nico Rosberg before the Mercedes AMG Petronas team kicked off its pre-season programme at the Circuito de Jerez.

Hamilton then took the wheel of the F1 W05 for the first time and set the early pace at the Spanish circuit, with a best lap time of 1m 27.820s in the morning.

However, Hamilton’s day was brought to a premature end by a high-speed crash on the following lap, a front-wing failure curtailing his track time shortly before noon. Kimi Raikkonen subsequently topped the day one timesheets for Ferrari.

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, said: “Of course, it’s unfortunate to end the day early when everyone has worked so hard and we had looked like easily completing the most mileage of anyone here today, but we’ll make that track time back and it’s better to have these things happen now than in Melbourne [scene of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix].

“I’m really proud of the team for what they’ve achieved in getting us here and we’ll keep pushing.”

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The Mercedes F1 W05 emerged for its first test run at precisely 9am CET, when the Jerez track was declared open.

Hamilton completed four single-lap install runs in the early stages, before gradually building into longer stints on day one of the four-day test.

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Afterwards an upbeat Hamilton said: “For me it’s an incredibly positive start to be the first car out on track and completing a good number of laps.

“Other teams have been going out for single-lap runs, starting a few hours after we had first hit the track, so to have started running through our test programme was very encouraging.

“The car feels quite good, especially considering it’s so early in our programme, so overall it’s been a positive day.”

A front-wing failure on his 18th lap ended Hamilton’s running for the day and Rosberg will continue in the car tomorrow (Wednesday) for the second day of pre-season testing at Jerez.

Of Hamilton’s early exit, Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: “Incidents like this happen and that’s why we are here, to find them before we go racing.

“We completed 18 laps and got through our system checks successfully.

“The car now needs to be repaired, which is a challenge in itself at the start of winter testing with regards to the number of spare parts available. However, it’s our job to cope with those challenges.”

Paddy Lowe, the team’s technical executive director, added: “To conclude our day’s running with a front wing failure was an unfortunate end to what had, to that point, been a very positive start to our winter.

“We were the first team to send a car out on track, on the dot at 9am this morning, and were gradually extending the length of the runs when the incident occurred.

“Lewis’ initial feedback was positive once he was able to complete some timed laps, which is a promising indicator for the basic package.

“Concerning the failure itself, we are still analysing its cause, and this process, coupled with the repairs to the car, have brought an end to our running today.”

Lowe added: “The teams at Brackley and Brixworth did a fantastic job to prepare the car for running this morning and tomorrow we hope to start adding to what is already a useful number of laps completed.

“There is a lot of data for us to analyse overnight and the learning curve this winter will be very steep.”

Despite crashing out, Hamilton at least got nearly 80km of driving under his belt – unlike his former team McLaren.

It was a frustrating day in the McLaren Mercedes garage for Jenson Button, with the MP4-29 failing to start a lap.

Despite firing up successfully at the McLaren Technology Centre last week, the car was bedevilled by electrical problems during the day.

The subsequent dismantling, inspection and re-installation of several major components ultimately meant the team was unable to conduct any running today.

Button will now begin the car’s installation programme tomorrow.

* To see pictures of the new Mercedes F1 W05 click here >>

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