Lewis Hamilton was cautious about pushing in F1 Mexico GP on the medium tyre, as he notes that Charles Leclerc was fair in fight.
It wasn’t looking that great for Mercedes on Friday and Saturday in F1 Mexico GP, but they came alive on Sunday especially on the side of Hamilton. The Brit made a good start and passed one Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in the pits amid chances of one stop.
The red flag played in the hands of Hamilton when Mercedes decided to put the medium compound for the final stint. Ferrari were in the hope of a drop off on those tyres against the hard that Leclerc was on, but that never happened.
Hamilton hustled Leclerc and got through him crucially where the Monegasque made it as tight as possible to force him on the grass. But the Brit made it stick and kept his tyres alive until the end where he set the fastest lap as well.
He was cautious though and tried pushing to catch Max Verstappen but when he saw the Dutchman’s pace, he gave up. “I could have pushed a little bit harder but I did at one time try to see, okay, I think I’ve saved enough, let me see if I can try and close this gap to Max,” said Hamilton. “I think it was like 10 laps to go, and I did a 22.0 and Max did a 21.9. I was like, ah, I’ll leave it.
“He was just cruising at 21.9. So yeah, so I thought I’d leave it there. And also, I had to be cautious, just careful because obviously my tyres… if I really pushed them for the last 10 laps, they probably would have opened up, and who knows, maybe Charles would have caught me up. So, I just had to be cautious with that.
“Honestly, this weekend, we’ve been very, very slow on the straight. In general, we’ve were quite draggy on the straights more often than not but this weekend, you know, like yesterday, we were losing like two-and-a-half tenths just into Turn 1 before we even start braking.
“So, these guys were very slippery on the straights so, trying to follow closely through Turns 16 and 17 was, was really the only way that I could get close enough and have an opportunity to make the DRS impactful. And yeah, finally, I pressed every button on the steering wheel, maximum power.
“And I didn’t know how far across he was going to go. But split second decision, I decided to go to the right. There’s just enough space there but Charles was really fair. But yeah, great racing,” summed up Hamilton, who noted that the team did not change much in the car from practice to race as he expanded on the meaning behind Jenson Button’s finesse.
“We didn’t change anything obviously since qualifying,” said Hamilton. “I think the car is just quite peaky in qualifying on light fuel. But when you put a load of fuel in it, the car just handles nicer. Just nice to drive and I think we struck a really nice set-up this weekend and particularly today for the race.
“Then, other than that, it’s just really good tyre management. And so yeah, I generally enjoyed it. It’s not the most physical of races, being that you can’t push all the way, you’re saving. You’re doing 200, 300 metres of lift and coast to keep the car cool and stop it from failing.
“So, yeah, but I was I was definitely hoping maybe there’ll be an opportunity to get closer to Max. As for the finesse, it’s about how much you’re sliding the tyre, it’s about the balance that you have. If you have too much wing in… too much front end in the car, then the car is like… imagine it a bit like a seesaw.
“You want to start a long stint – or a stint – with the car understeering, because as the rears go off, the seesaw tips, and then it goes to oversteer. And when it goes to oversteer, that’s when you’re lost most often. Unless it’s the other way around, where the front tyres are the issue, for example. And, just finding that balance is very, very difficult.
“And it’s… you go out and do your laps of the grid, for example, on a Soft tyre, it requires a different setting for the Medium tyre. And I think just really then, just focusing on all of the three sections and figuring out how to… where you can and can’t push. And I think today was just a really great balance of lift and coast and tyre saving. And it’s a technique. I mean, all the drivers know about it,” summed up Hamilton.
Leclerc, meanwhile, noted that the pace of Ferrari didn’t work on the hard compound which is why he couldn’t catch Hamilton. “I think it still confirms the weaknesses of our car, where it’s a very peaky car,” he said. “And whenever we get out of the optimal window of the car, we are losing too much time. And that’s exactly what happened on the Hard.
“At first, I thought I could do quite a good job once we stopped. But then there was a red flag, the tyres cooled down, we went back out and the feeling was just not the same and I couldn’t find the feeling again with the tyres. So it’s a bit of a shame because before that it was really good, especially on the Medium.
“But we’ll look into it, again, on the Hard to try and understand what went wrong there, in order to improve that in the future. But I think short term, there’s no big fixes. I think every time we are, as I said, a bit out of the optimal window, we lose too much time.”
Here’s Charles Leclerc on Turn 1 hit
Here’s how F1 Mexico GP panned out
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