Lewis Hamilton: Steering wheel setting distraction was 'dangerous'

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Lewis Hamilton said the distraction caused by his engine setting issue at the Grand Prix of Europe presented a "dangerous" situation as he spent several laps trying to find the correct switch on his steering wheel.

Hamilton was down on engine power and losing as much as two seconds per lap to teammate Nico Rosberg as he tried to rectify the issue via the switches on his steering wheel. This year's team radio restrictions meant the Mercedes pit wall was unable to tell Hamilton the relatively straightforward set of instructions he needed to put his power unit back in the correct setting and instead he was left guessing.

At one stage Hamilton told his team: "This is ridiculous, guys. I don't know, I'm looking at my fricking dash every five seconds trying to find the switch in the wrong position."

Asked how it had felt trying to find the right setting while racing on the challenging Baku street circuit, the world champion said: "Dangerous.

"I'm just there looking at my steering wheel for a large portion of the lap and all the way down the straights. All they can tell me is there's a switch error or a wrong switch position, so I'm looking at every single switch thinking 'am I being an idiot here or have I done something wrong?', but I hadn't.

"I looked at it time and time again, looking at all the switch positions and there was nothing that looked irregular."

As it turned out, both Hamilton's and Rosberg's cars were in the wrong setting at one stage of the race. Rosberg was able to rectify the issue after just half a lap -- partly thanks to an earlier setting change that put him closer to the solution -- but it took Hamilton until lap 42 to make the change.

"I didn't know what the problem was so I didn't know if I had done anything to make it, the engine, not work. The team started with something switched on, so I had it from the beginning and I disabled something and it didn't change anything and then switched it back on and it didn't change anything.

"So in the end I switched it back off again and the engine power came back ten laps after that, but the engineers told me there were just nine laps left to go so I just turned the engine down after that."