Lewis Hamilton wanted to risk trying to finish the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix without a second pit stop to have a chance of victory but says Mercedes made the right call overruling him.
Max Verstappen started on the hard compound tire and was able to put pressure on Mercedes in the first stint before pulling out a big advantage, regaining the lead from Valtteri Bottas on the out lap after his first pit stop. Hamilton then ran long while Verstappen pit for a second time, and with a 10-second lead on old tires Hamilton wanted to try and go to the end despite the warnings of a week ago, when he suffered a last-lap puncture on a harder compound.
“I was trying to go for a one-stop at the end but there was a lot of vibration with the tires that we had and I didn’t know if the tire was going to last, to be honest,” Hamilton said. “Not just with the rubber but a rear tire blowout through a corner was too big a risk to take. That would have been the end of the race, so I think it was a good decision by the team.
“I was trying to keep going but there was a lot of laps to go. Max I think was doing 1m29s and I couldn’t do that on the old tire, so congratulations to him, he did a fantastic job. It was an exciting race even for me with the struggles that we had — keeping the car on track and not losing my cool, bringing it home and getting the points.”
Although he would go on to pass Bottas for second place — with a longer middle stint proving crucial — Hamilton says he was struggling more than his teammate in the early part of the race. However, he welcomes the challenge of softer tires as they improve the racing spectacle.
“I was trying to manage — I was trying to keep up with Valtteri, to be honest, and I was struggling within about three laps with the rears. I was managing also but it wasn’t doing anything to help the issue. Then I started to lose ground to Valtteri, so (we’ve) got to look into that as that’s rare for me to have as bad as I’d had; usually I’m on the slightly better end to bad deg but today was worse.
“We haven’t had deg like this before. I don’t know what happened today — we’ve come here with the softer tires which has made the racing more exciting, as we said about the two-stop. Part of me doesn’t want to propose we go with softer tires moving forwards (laughs) because maybe we’ll be in this position again, but ultimately one-stop sucks. We should never be doing one-stops in this sport — it’s never been good watching as a fan. It makes it more exciting when there’s more.”