Mclaren Denies "hamilton Error"

By: Anthony Fontanelle

At the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton had the chance to become the first rookie to win the drivers' championship. A poor start and a gearbox problem though left him just one point shy of accomplishing the feat. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen showed poise under pressure and went on to become the world champion even as he went into the race sitting on third place.

The controversy of the recently-concluded Formula One season though still continues with reports that Hamilton caused the error which saw him relegated to 16th place on lap eight of the season finale. A Canadian publication La Presse reported that the young rookie inadvertently switched off his car on lap eight. Said newspaper claims that Hamilton was quoted as saying: "My finger slipped on the steering wheel and I accidentally pressed the button used for the starting sequence. The car went into neutral and I had to reinitialize the system, that is, reload the gearbox management program."

This report though is said to be erroneous as Autosport reported that a source close to Hamilton denied that the rookie driver even spoke to the Canadian newspaper. McLaren also denied that Hamilton has caused his car to stall on that fateful race. Autosport reported that a McLaren spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the temporary gear shifting problem Lewis suffered on lap eight of the Brazilian Grand Prix was due to a default in the gearbox that selected neutral for a period of time. It was not as a result of Lewis pressing an incorrect button on his steering wheel."

Even team CEO Martin Whitmarsh confirmed that there is no way that Hamilton could have had caused the transmission malfunction. "It was a gearbox problem, and it went into forced-neutral and changing down seemed to rectify it - it might be mechanical, but we doubt it," said Whitmarsh. The problem with Hamilton's MP4-22 is only one of the few instances that the car showed signs of unreliability. McLaren uses engines from Mercedes-Benz and other racing parts as durable as .

"If it was something mechanical, they usually don't fix themselves. It could be electronics software - but there's no evidence in the analysis to support that. Could be a sensor - but again, there's no evidence in the data recordings," continued Whitmarsh. "So it would appear that the barrels that change gear went out of control - and out of control of the driver - and that's probably hydraulic."

"That could be either a very small Moog servo control valves that were interfered with by a tiny piece of debris or they are sensitive to magnetic interference - something generated a magnetic field which caused the valve to misbehave," concluded Whitmarsh.

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