After an unimpressive three years, the British team is feeling the pressure to succeed. Hamilton was signed to spearhead that new effort. (Photo : Reuters)
Lewis Hamilton ended his first Formula One test for Mercedes with a bang Wednesday, crashing his car into the wall after just 20 minutes behind the wheel, The Guardian reported.
Charging down his 15th lap around the track, Hamilton was doing about 186 MPH as he approached Turn 6, affectionately known as the "Dry Sack hairpin," when his rear brakes failed, throwing his car off the track and straight into the tire wall at the Jerez circuit at about 35 MPH, according to Reuters. The crash damaged the front suspension badly enough to cancel out any more track time for the day.
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"I must have been doing about 200mph or so before I hit the brakes coming down the back straight. For a split second it was working but then the pedal just went straight down. It wouldn't work any more. Then I just had to brace for impact. Because I went in straight my legs took a bit of a thump," he explained, according to the Guardian.
"It's disappointing for all of us in the team because everyone has worked so hard over the winter and we didn't anticipate this. But I'm glad we got it out of the way now so we don't have to worry about it in the future," he added.
When questioned by reporters if there were still some positive aspects to take away from his first day testing for Mercedes, he smiled and said, "Definitely. I'm alive," Reuters reported.
The "Dry Sack" corner is a notorious crash spot on the track, according to Reuters. The section of the track was made infamous when title rivals Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villenquve slammed into the wall there during the 1997 European Grand Prix.
After an unimpressive three years, the British team is feeling the pressure to succeed. Hamilton was signed to lead that new effort, but so far things have gotten off to a wobbly start for the team's pre-season testing, adding even more uncertainty to the management group behind the team.
The crash also means Hamilton will only have just about five days to get a feel for the car, but to hear him tell it, the 2008 World Champion isn't sweating his tight schedule.
"I am pretty relaxed about it," he said. "I've been racing for seven years, so it is not like I am lacking in experience."
Hamilton admitted the team needed to make the most out the time they had remaining at the track before heading off to Barcelona for more testing. However, that still seems resolved to charge ahead in spite of the early frustration.
"We're ahead of where they were last year, when they didn't even have the new car here, so it's an improvement and a step forward already, so we can't really complain," Hamilton said, the Guardian reported.
He added: "I'm quite happy with the car, the performance and balance. We've a good foundation we can work from."