Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix were dashed during a standing restart, after he locked-up and went straight on at Turn 1.
The Mercedes driver looked set to move back into the lead of the Formula 1 Championship after title rival Max Verstappen crashed out with a tyre failure. That prompted a red flag and a restart.
Hamilton started from second, behind Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez. Despite a good start to get ahead of the Mexican, Hamilton locked-up and went straight on, taking to the Turn 1 run-off before rejoining at the back of the pack.
Hamilton apologised over team radio before mentioning the “magic”, referring to a button or switch Mercedes uses to warm its tyres and brakes more effectively during race starts.
“Did I leave the magic on? I could have sworn I turned that off,” the Briton said.
After the race, Hamilton explained that he had in fact turned it off, but knocked the switch, re-activating it, when he moved left to counter Perez’s defence at the restart, which moved the brake bias forwards, causing him to go off.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I hit some sort of switch that caused only the front brakes to work,” he told media after the race.
“There’s a button we have to help keep the front brakes up and, as Perez pulled over, I reacted and accidentally latched on the switch. It just locked up and I went straight on.”
Hamilton would go on to finish outside of the points, meaning Verstappen retains his slim four-point championship lead, whilst Red Bull extended their Constructors’ lead thanks to Perez’s win.