Hamilton 'shocked' by Mercedes tyre woes at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W11 in parc ferme.
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton admitted that he had been shocked at how poorly Mercedes had been able to cope with the hot conditions and softer tyres at Silverstone this weekend in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas started the race on the medium compound tyres, which were a step softer than the tyres used for last weekend's British Grand Prix which climaxed with issues for both drivers.

Wary of not wanting the same problems again this time, both men went for early stops on Sunday, Hamilton switching to hard tyres on lap 14 which was one later than Bottas.

However Red Bull's Max Verstappen was able to start the race on the hard tyre and stayed out until lap 26, by which time Hamilton and Bottas were already struggling with renewed blistering.

“That was such a difficult race,” Hamilton told the media after the end of the race. “I love a challenge but that was just an unexpected challenge.

"Last race we were struggling with understeer, front tyres blistering and running out. And this weekend was the complete opposite."

He said that this time it was the left rear tyre that had been the main problem. "There was nothing I could do. I tried to go slow through the corners to save it but it just wouldn’t work.

“It was a real shock," he said, adding that it was the reason why he hadn't been able to keep in touch with Verstappen or Bottas and had to settle for playing the long game instead.

"I couldn’t attack Valtteri as he was pulling away but I was really grateful in the second stint that I was able to extend [my second stint].

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W11 locks up under braking entering the pits.

“That second stint, I was managing like you couldn’t believe. I was managing to the best of my ability but it just didn’t make a single difference to that blistering.

“I was thinking should I stay out," he added. "But I knew I couldn’t have matched Max’s times at the end, so he probably would have caught me.

"And the tyre might have blown out. If the rear goes then it’s a crash into the wall, so it was good decision by the team [to make a second pit stop on lap 41].

“At the end I was just driving with half a tyre basically. If you look in the mirrors, one half was bald and the other side was okay, so it held together," he said. "But of course I was nervous it was going to explode.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W11 leaves the pits.

Hamilton admitted that he was in the dark as to the reason for Mercedes' sudden tyre woes in recent races which have been particularly prominent in hot weather conditions.

“Not that I know of at the moment," he said when asked if he knew the underlying cause. "But I’m sure the team will be working as hard as they can, because we’ve not had that before.

“I would imagine most likely is obviously Pirelli were struggling with tyre failures last week," he continued. "They just put the pressures up and up and up and up.

"They’re balloons now, they’re the highest pressures we’ve ever had on a track like that," he suggested. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a thing for us.

"But I don’t know if anyone else struggled with blistering like we had, so it’s something we’ll look into.

“Definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore as we experienced it," he added. “I think right at the end I had blistering again but I’d been pushing pretty heavily to catch the guys."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his second position on the podium.

Following his late second stop, he was able to pass Charles Leclerc as well as Bottas to pick up second place behind Verstappen, which he reckoned was the best that could be done in the circumstances.

"I’m really grateful to have progressed and managed to just get my way through the race," he said.

Although he missed out on what would have been his 88th Grand Prix victory, it does men that he's now equalled Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 155 podium finishes.

It was was the eighth consecutive Silverstone race in which Hamilton has finished first or second. It also means that he has still not been beaten by a team mate at Silverstone in the hybrid era - the last time he lost out was prior to that in 2013, when Nico Rosberg won.

Hamilton remains in the lead of the drivers championship after five rounds with 107 points, 30 points ahead of Verstappen who has not moved ahead of Bottas in the standings. Mercedes continue to dominate the constructors standings with 180s points to Red Bull's 113.

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