Mercedes believe Lewis Hamilton's floor damage caused by kerbs

Mercedes believe the damage caused to the floor of Lewis Hamilton's car came from the kerbs around Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, rather than debris.

Hamilton struggled to match the pace of team-mate Valtteri Bottas during last weekend's season-opener. After the race Mercedes discovered a large part of Hamilton's floor was missing and attributed much of his performance problems to that.

However the Briton wasn't involved in any incidents and it's not believed that he struck any debris, leading the team to blame the kerbs for dislodging the piece.

"On inspection of Lewis’ car after the race, we noticed some damage over what we call the tyre seal area," explained Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles.

"If you look at this image (above), you will see the broken carbon just in front of the rear-tyre on that floor region. 

"That area is quite sensitive aerodynamically, it’s both for downforce and also for balance of the car. And we believe we sustained it during the course of the race while riding over some of the kerbs.

"That floor damage wouldn’t have helped, it would’ve caused the rear to be more unstable than it normally would be, and he did a fantastic job bringing that car to the end of the race."

Vowles was also full of praise for Bottas who put in a dominant display to take his first victory in a year, having failed to register a single win during the 2018 campaign.

"Valtteri was on it all weekend," added Vowles. "You would’ve seen in qualifying he was there in contention for pole position and it was Lewis’ fantastic last lap that really put him ahead.

"Come the race, again his start was perfect, he was able to take the lead of the race and from then, he just lap after lap just pulled a small margin relative to the others behind."