Lewis Hamilton believes his recovery from the back of the grid in the Brazilian Grand Prix displays how Formula 1’s engine rules need to change to allow drivers to push harder.
Having crashed in qualifying, Hamilton started from the pit lane with a fresh power unit and climbed back up to fourth place at Interlagos on Sunday. Mercedes says the newly-crowned world champion will be able to push hard in Abu Dhabi too, having previously been trying to make four power units last for the full season, and with that number reducing to three next year, Hamilton believes his fightback shows those limits are not helping the racing spectacle.
“[Brazil] is the first time I’ve pushed an engine like that,” Hamilton said. “It was nice – normally you’re managing it. Ultimately they test these engines to a certain limit and then they set a limit below it as the limit and tell you this is how much mileage you have in the race, but I always come in way, way under.
“I always look after it more than I need to. I often turn the engine down and they keep telling me to turn it up and I’m like, ‘No, no, I prefer it down and I’ll figure out a way to catch up in another way.’ But I guess that’s just your fear of pushing it a little bit too much, like the engine blowing up in Malaysia last year, so those kind of things make me look after it even more.
“Next year we’re going to have three engines. I think this year has been good, I just have to implement the same thing I have done this year. I should generally be able to make those three engines last. I think the team has done great, and to be able to push the engine like it was [at Interlagos], it makes me think I don’t like the idea of going to three engines. We should be able to push more.”
Hamilton points to the way the status quo was maintained between the top three cars during the race at Interlagos as an example of how managing the car hampers racing.
“Sprinting is what we’re missing in Formula 1. The fact that these days we’ve got 100kg [220lb], the car is going to be a bus next year – it’s going to be so heavy it’s going to be like a bleeding NASCAR next year, so heavy. The braking distances get longer, the brakes are always on the limit, and I know it sounds negative but as a racer who wants a fast, nimble car that I can attack every single lap, unfortunately that’s not what we generally have.
“[Brazil] was fun because I had that but I was coming from a different place. But if you look at the front guys, they were managing and that is generally what we are doing at the front, so I don’t think that’s too exciting for people to watch. That’s why people look at the most exciting races, particularly when it rains because you don’t have those limitations.
“Races where Max [Verstappen] has been coming through from the back of some sort – or another driver has been – those have been the most exciting ones. So how do we provide that for the future? I’m not sure cutting down the engines is helping it in that direction, but that’s just my personal opinion.”