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Mercedes blame hardware fault for slow race starts

Hamilton undone from pole position in both Australia and Bahrain

Toto Wolff believes a hardware problem rather than an electronic issue is to blame for Mercedes' poor race starts.

Slow getaways have been the world champions' Achilles heel in both of the opening races of 2016, with Lewis Hamilton as low as fourth and seventh at the first corners in Australia and Bahrain respectively, despite starting from pole position.

Hamilton blamed himself for his tardy start in the desert, but Wolff believes the problem stemmed from a fault with Mercedes' own systems.

"We tend to believe it is more a hardware issue than a control electronics problem and you can't solve that from one race to the other," Wolff said.

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Questioned whether Hamilton could have been at fault with 'finger trouble', the Mercedes boss responded: "I think it is more random than that. When you look at Nico's start into the formation lap he made a mistake and chose second gear and went into anti-stall. So all that is possible and all that was the purpose of changing the regulations."

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Lewis Hamilton collided with Valtteri Bottas at the first corner of the Bahrain GP

In a bid to find a fix, the world champions have started to work on a new clutch solution with parent company Daimler. However, Wolff was guarded on whether a solution would be in place for next week's Chinese GP.

"We are working to sort it out, the way we assess clutches and the way we round them, the way we calibrate them, obviously how the driver uses needs to be optimised," he said.

"But mainly the collaboration with Daimler is about optimising the hardware and that takes a little bit of time. When we will have results I am not sure yet."

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