Lewis Hamilton said his poor getaway in the Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying race was due to a mistake he made with his clutch.
The Mercedes driver admitted he didn’t optimise his getaway from second on the grid. It allowed his championship rival Max Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers to pass him before they reached the first corner.
Hamilton also came out of the first chicane behind Pierre Gasly, though the AlphaTauri driver crashed at the next corner.
“The start was just broke away traction,” Hamilton explained, “subtle, like two millimetres too deep with the clutch paddle and wheelspin – that’s it.”
Hamilton was heard asking about his poor start on the radio after the Safety Car was deployed on the first lap of the race. “How deep did I go?” he asked. “Two percent” replied race engineer Peter Bonnington. Hamilton apologised to his team for the mistake.
Team principal Toto Wolff said the slip-up was costly for Hamilton’s race. “Between hero and zero on a start, there’s such a fine margin,” he said. “Having too much wheelspin happens, to be honest, and that bit us hard today. But there’s everything to play tomorrow.”
The world champion finished the sprint qualifying race fifth as he was unable to pass the cars which passed him.
“I was being aggressive as I could be,” said Hamilton. “I just couldn’t [pass]. McLarens are the quickest on the straights and I just couldn’t get close enough to then capitalise on a straight line. They were just as fast in the straights,if not faster.”