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Front wing failure likely cause of Hamilton-Alonso crash 07 Apr 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 with front wing damage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008

McLaren have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton’s front wing broke immediately prior to his running into the rear of Fernando Alonso’s Renault on lap two of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The unusual nature of the accident - both drivers were accelerating on a straight section of track - prompted cynics to question whether Alonso had ‘brake tested’ his former team mate. Renault’s telemetry suggested otherwise, and McLaren say they have no suspicion of any wrongdoing on the part of the Spaniard.

“When I went into the engineers’ room and started looking at the details that I realised Lewis’s upper front wing had disappeared about two seconds before the accident, so he suddenly lost downforce,” explained McLaren’s Formula One CEO, Martin Whitmarsh.

“We haven’t analysed why that happened but we suspect the structure had been weakened by previous contact. To be fair to Lewis it could have broken of its own accord, but that has never happened before so contact is the most likely cause. There’s certainly no evidence that Fernando did anything wrong.”

Such a failure would have robbed Hamilton’s car of not only downforce, but also drag, giving it an unexpected burst of acceleration, explaining the unlikely impact.