Mercedes redesigns steering wheel to prevent Baku Brake Magic repeat


A quick steering wheel redesign is intended to avoid another brake magic error for Mercedes at the French GP

Mercedes F1 steering wheel 2018

Steve Etherington/Mercedes

Mercedes has changed the “brake magic” button that cost Lewis Hamilton a potential win in Baku in an attempt to ensure that it can’t be activated by mistake again.

Hamilton said that a shroud had been fitted over the button as a temporary measure before his steering wheel is redesigned to move the button from its current location behind the top left corner.

The defending champion had just moved into the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the restart, when his brakes locked up and he slid off at Turn One, dropping to the back of the field.

It soon emerged that he had accidentally triggered the “brake magic” button, as he shifted to avoid Sergio Perez, who was attempting to defend his lead. The setting shifts the brake balance forwards to maintain heat under a safety car.

Rear view of 2014 Mercedes F1 steering wheel

Brake magic button is located at the top of the steering wheel (on the right in this view)


Speaking ahead of the French Grand Prix, Hamilton said that he doesn’t blame himself for making a mistake under pressure because the mishap could have occurred at any time.

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“I don’t even count it as a mistake,” he said. “A mistake is when you often drive off the track through missing your braking point or hitting the wall, you know, but it wasn’t one.

“It was an unfortunate kind of unforced error; something that we had that was sitting there that could have happened at any point. And, unfortunately, that is pretty hard but we learn from experience and move forward.”

Describing what has been changed for Paul Ricard, Hamilton said that the button could not be moved in the two-week gap between races. “We’ve just put a shroud around it just to make sure that you don’t accidentally touch it in future,” he said. “That’s for the short term. Obviously the wheel’s not so easy to change or to move buttons. So, we’ll look for a longer-term solution probably.”