Hamilton: I let the clutch out and it just underperformed

Austrian Grand Prix start

Lewis Hamilton is blaming a clutch problem for his tardy start at the Austrian Grand Prix, but Mercedes point to a couple of errors he made which in the end allowed teammate Nico Rosberg to post a commanding victory and close the points gap in the championship title race.

One of them was when he clearly crossed the pitlane exit line, incurring a penalty. And the other was at the start of the race, where despite launching off the grid from pole position, he was beaten off the line by eventual winner Nico Rosberg.

“I let the clutch out and it just underperformed,” said the world championship leader. “It’s something that I’ve been having since Barcelona – before that I was having better starts.”

At the same time, teammate Rosberg’s starts have been generally better recently. But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it is not right to suppose that the team has made technical changes against Hamilton’s preferences.

Hamilton Rosberg Austria

“These changes are something that we decided together, with Lewis as well,” he is quoted by Kolner Express.

Team chairman Niki Lauda, meanwhile, said Hamilton was simply upset at the “mistakes” he made at the Red Bull Ring.

Asked if his run of recent form is making Hamilton nervous, Rosberg said: “It would be nice if I’m making him nervous. That he went over the pitlane exit line made it a little easier for me. It was one of my easier victories. I had no pressure.

“I’ve won three of the last four races, which is awesome,” he told Bild newspaper. “Now I can’t wait until Silverstone – only ten points behind Lewis!”