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Hamilton “a great spy”, says former Mercedes engineer

Formula One – MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, Spanish GP 2016. Lewis Hamilton

Seven time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is one of the highest praised drivers in the history of the sport, both for his on track performances and his role as an ambassador for Formula 1.

But former Mercedes engineer Philipp Brandle has recently opened up about the Brit’s ability to pick up details that could make a difference, by watching his competitors.

Brandle, who has worked on Hamilton’s car until 2019, went as far as calling him “a great spy” when it comes to perfecting and improving the chances of him and his team to come out on top.

He started off by telling Servus TV “He takes a very close look at everything (…) For example, there was a time in the cooldown room before the podium ceremony when he noticed a driver in a racing suit that had fewer cables [attached to it]. The point was that you could save weight because every detail counts in Formula 1.”

“That’s why he gave us the feedback that the other team had a shorter cable harness, a smaller connector”, he added.

Brandle continued by pointing out the importance of details in Formula 1 by saying “everything that can somehow save just one gram is important and he looks at such details. And then you can implement that.”

That’s why we often see drivers looking at competitors’ cars in parc ferme or on the grid before the start of the race, with teams usually shielding their cars from the looks of others.

Nico Hulkenberg, while working as a pundit for Servus TV before the start of the Bahrain GP, confirmed that this happens all the time by saying “You collect information (…) You look at how things are done on that car and then you pass it on to your people (…) And of course you hope they can do something with it and make your car faster”.

With the 2021 aero regulations slightly shaking up the performance of some cars on the grid, we can expect to see more spying around the teams, in the battle to find speed gains.

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