Mercedes discovers damage to Hamilton's floor

Keen to understand why his pace was so poor during today’s Australian Grand Prix, the answer may have been discovered around an hour after the end of the race when it was revealed that Lewis Hamilton had damage to his floor.

Losing out to teammate Valtteri Bottas at the start, the Briton was never really in contention again, and was under intense pressure from Max Verstappen in the closing stages.

Pitting before Bottas, even on fresh rubber Hamilton was unable to match the Finn’s pace, as he continued to post fastest laps right up until his own stop 8 laps later.

“I lost position at the start and my race was pretty much done and dusted after the first corner,” said the Briton. “Afterwards it was really about bringing the car home and bagging the points.

“I had to pit early to cover the pit stop from Ferrari,” he continued, “so I had a long second stint and drove super carefully to make sure I had tyres left at the end of the race.

“I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance I had,” he admitted, “but it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a problem for me to finish second.”

However, shortly after, Mercedes took to social media, tweeting: “We have discovered damage to Lewis’ floor in the area just in front of the left-rear tyre. There is a chunk of the floor missing, but we are not 100 per cent sure why yet.”

“It was fantastic to see Valtteri drive so flawlessly to answer some of his critics and remind everybody that he is a class act,” said technical director, James Allison. “Lewis on the other hand was punished for a poor start and had to contend with damage to the floor of his car, but nonetheless was able to drive a strong race to seal off the 1-2 finish for the team.”

An investigation will now be launched into the cause of the floor damage, which could have been caused by debris or running across a kerb.