Mercedes' problems at Jerez test continue as Lewis Hamilton crashes on official debut
Hamilton debut outing ends after just fourteen laps
By James Galloway and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 06/02/13 5:14pm
Having just recorded the second-fastest lap of the day, Hamilton's W04 went straight on at the Dry Sack hairpin on its 15th lap and ploughed straight through the gravel and into a high-speed nose-first impact with the tyre wall.
Hamilton, reported to have described himself as a "passenger" during the crash, clambered out of the stricken car without assistance but the impact broke the front wing on the new W04, which was promptly put on a rescue truck and taken back to the pitlane.
After carrying out some initial investigations on the car, Mercedes duly confirmed that Hamilton had "suffered a loss of rear brake pressure, the front brakes enabled him to slow the car but he couldn't avoid the barrier.
"We have traced the problem to the hydraulic brake line connecting to the right-rear caliper."
An early-afternoon announcement followed a few hours later in which the team confirmed that Hamilton would take no further part in the day's running, leaving both new car and new driver short of mileage in what is proving to be an acutely difficult first test of the winter for the Mercedes team.
"Privately, Hamilton will be frustrated," commented Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz from trackside. "All he wanted to do today was get a solid base in the car. Instead, all he has done is a handful of laps in which he looked pretty quick. So to have his running cut short will have been frustrating - there's no question about that."
Hamilton's crash is the second high-profile setback the Mercdes outfit have suffered with their new W04 in as many days after they were forced to abandon Day One's running after 14 laps in wake of an electrical fire that stopped the car out on circuit.
Nico Rosberg was unable to return to the circuit for the remainder of the day as Mercedes worked to modify a wiring loom on the W04.
Hamilton had at least already driven the W04 in a shakedown run for filming purposes at Jerez on Monday, but Wednesday marked his official debut for the team in an official F1 test.
Having sat out the early minutes of Day Two's action, Hamilton had completed four installation runs before moving up the timesheet across two subsequent stints, the second one of which ended abruptly with his crash.
The double setback leaves the team uncomfortably short of mileage on their new charger, with the W04 officially only 28-laps-old. Rosberg is due to return to driver duties on Thursday, with Hamilton then returning on Day Four.
"Obviously you want to get as much mileage as possible, but this is just the first test so there is no reason to be desperate," Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff told Sky Sports News.
"There is quite a lot of work to do but we want to do it properly so this is why we are not stressing ourselves to get it done this afternoon. We will do things properly and get out tomorrow morning.
"The first indication is that the car looks good and the feedback from the drivers was positive."