Mercedes' post-race analysis suggests a kerb was the likely cause of the floor damage sustained by Lewis Hamilton's car in Melbourne.
Hamilton finished second behind team mate Valtteri Bottas in the opening round of the 2019 season in Australia, but admitted that the performance of his W10 had been impacted by a handling issue.
It was later revealed that an element of the car's floor was missing, a deterioration that likely upset the aerodynamic balance of the Silver Arrow.
In his post-race 'Pure Pitwall' debrief, Mercedes strategist James Vowles shed some light on the possible reason for the damage that had been incurred.
“On inspection of Lewis’s car after the race, we noticed some damage over what we call the tyre seal area,” said Vowles.
“We saw the broken carbon just in front of that rear tyre on that floor region. That area is quite sensitive aerodynamically, both for downforce and also for balance of the car, and we believe we sustained it during the race while riding over some kerbs.”
In addition to inducing a handling imbalance, the floor damage also complicated Hamilton's tyre management during the race.
Vowles praised Hamilton for getting his injured car to the checkered flag.
“Lewis already had a very long stint on that Medium tyre after covering off the threat from Vettel’s undercut, so he was already having to manage those tyres quite significantly, hindering his progress through the race.
“That floor damage wouldn’t have helped,” added Vowles.
“It would have caused the rear to be more unstable than it normally would be, and he did a fantastic job bringing that car to the end of the race.”