Lewis Hamilton lost control of the new Mercedes F1 W04 and crashed during this morning's first round of testing at Jerez, severely cutting short the data-gathering session the Mercedes team greatly required to fine-tune its latest racing car. This setback for Mercedes followed a rare fire in Nico Rosberg's car on Tuesday caused by an electrical failure.
Camera footage indicates that Hamilton failed to slow his car towards the end of the front straight on the fifteenth lap. Hamilton flew off the track and hit the gravel before slamming into the tire wall. A violent impact, Formula 1 cars often travel as quickly as 300 km/h, or 186 mph, before the braking point into the Dry Sack hairpin.
"I hit the brake, and for a split second it was working, but then the pedal just went straight down. It wouldn't work anymore. Then I just had to brace for impact," said the former McLaren F1 champion.
Thankfully, Hamilton emerged from the wreck unscathed in the incident. However, metal and carbon fiber debris them the crash prompted stewards to wave a red flag to halt the session. Damaged parts are mostly a broken wing and suspension.
"I've had lots of crashes in my career and I've been able to bounce back, so I'm not fazed," said Hamilton.
An incident of great concern to Mercedes F1, both the team and Lewis Hamilton has declined to discuss whether the incident was caused by a mechanical flaw or drive error. That said, preliminary investigations point the cause to a loss in rear brake pressure.
Unfortunately, the only raw footage available on YouTube is in very poor resolution. However, it is evident that a great puff of smoke is released when Hamilton engaged the brakes, backing the theory that a loss in rear brake pressure occurred right before the incident. At this point, it doesn't seem like any other mechanical failure or aerodynamic defect attributed to the crash.
Lewis Hamilton joined Team Mercedes for the 2013 season after racing for McLaren since the beginning of his F1 career back in 2007. Hamilton managed to clinch the driver's world championship title in 2008 but has suffered from a string of bad luck in the following years.
While Mercedes F1 didn't have a successful 2012 season either, Lewis Hamilton took the leap and signed the contract with Mercedes during the tail end of the 2012 season just as F1 legend Michael Schumacher announced his second retirement from racing.
Be sure to take a look at Lewis Hamilton's dramatic crash during Jerez testing below. Also, don't miss Mark Webber's thoughts on the performance of the new Red Bull RB9.