Lewis Hamilton was surprised by the tyre performance in F1 Spanish GP after the Silverstone races as he credited Mercedes, while he also spoke of one scary moment towards the end.
In both the F1 races at Silverstone, Mercedes appeared to be struggling with their tyres, which were quickly degrading under the hot August sun. It was the first opportunity their adversaries had to claim a win, and it stoked greater fears of poor performance for the German outfit when the temperatures rose.
And rise they did for the next race in Spain, the result of which once again left members of the paddock scratching their heads: Mercedes were once again impervious, as Hamilton claimed a sweeping victory.
This result, even more puzzling than the last, surprised Hamilton himself, who explained that he was taken aback, if not pleasantly so, by his W11’s ability to work the tyres on the hot surface of the Circuit Barcelona de Catalunya when that of Silverstone was incompatible by comparison.
“I was just in a daze out there, it felt really good,” said Hamilton. “It was a real surprise because we had this problem with the tyres. Management was very, very good and ultimately our understanding of what happened at Silverstone that we brought into Spain has inevitably enabled us to do what we did. We were not expecting tyre performance to be as it was.
“I didn’t even know it was the last lap at the end. That’s how zoned in I was. I was ready to keep going. It’s something I study very hard before the race, understanding what tyres we are going to be using and what strategy we are going to do. And as I came to understand that I could make the tyres longer than we had planned I was even potentially going [to go] for a one-stop.
“But I think the strategy we had was just right. There was no need to take the risk of going on the soft tyre so I had a fresh, brand new medium tyres, which I think was best. I drove exactly the same in terms of managing the tyres as I have done in the past. I think probably improved the efficiency of how I drove in terms of the tyre management.
“I think we just went into a little bit more detail on how we can improve with that and took it on board and was able to execute it perfectly today. Fundamentally, we still need to fully understand exactly what happened in Silverstone. I think we just dealt with different circumstances this weekend in terms of different track and a harder tyre.
“When is the Soft tyre the good one to start the race on? Normally we go to the Medium tyre so just a lot different this weekend in terms of how the compounds worked on this track. But the guys did a fantastic job in terms of understanding that and so I think we had a pretty perfect strategy,” summed up Hamilton.
The Brit praised the intelligence of the Mercedes F1 team as well, who worked hard with regards to making the strategy work and do better with the tyres, even though they still have to understand the main issues. The only hiccup for Hamilton was the carbon piece from Haas’ Romain Grosjean under his car.
“There was one moment,” said Hamilton. “There was someone’s wing was on the exit of Turn 2. It was right by my right front tyre would normally go. It was a big flap. And luckily, in a split second, I managed to put it underneath the car, so my wheels either side. But other than that, no. It was a great, incredible effort from the team, which I’m so thankful for, and a real shock I think probably for us.”
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Here’s how F1 Spanish GP panned out