Lewis Hamilton’s wheel-to-wheel battle with Max Verstappen on the opening lap at Imola resulted in damage that cost him up several tenths of a second per lap, according to Mercedes.
Verstappen and Hamilton duelled on the run to Tamburello on the first lap, with the Red Bull driver holding the inside line to take the initiative.
Hamilton tried to hang on around the outside but ran heavily over the yellow kerbs on the approach to Turn 3 and sustained minor damage to the front-wing endplate.
“The initial damage looked really bad, of the order of half a second or so,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin on the incident.
“It was being made to look worse by the fact the footplate was flopping around, held on by some pressure tappings, and that was causing a lot of very inconsistent flow further down the car.
“When we actually jettisoned that, and happily we got rid of it without it puncturing the tyre, the damage was about half of that amount, so, you know, two-three tenths or something.
“The problem is we’re so close to where Max is on pace, it’s the difference between being able to keep up and drifting back a bit, so it was quite a compromise.”
Speaking about the opening lap, Hamilton said: “I didn’t get a good start. Well Max got a better start than me.
“I think I was slightly ahead going into Turn 2 but I was basically avoiding us coming together by going wide.
“Max was just coming and coming and coming across, so of course we had that touch and I had to take the exit and those big kerbs. But I’m grateful I got through it without any more damage.”