Italian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says a different tyre choice for his second stint wouldn’t have helped him beat Charles Leclerc.
Lewis Hamilton finished P3 on Sunday at Monza, having been involved in the scrap for the win for the first three quarters of the race. Almost nicking the lead from polesitter Charles Leclerc off the line, Hamilton shadowed the Ferrari driver closely for the entirety of the first stint.
With Hamilton coming in on Lap 19 for the Medium tyre, Leclerc came in a lap later for the Hard tyre. Charles held onto the lead, just, and then had to fend off the Mercedes’ strenuous attack for several laps.
Eventually, Leclerc’s tyre longevity started to pay off as Hamilton lost grip on his tyres and made an error into the first chicane. Hamilton fell behind teammate Valtteri Bottas as a result of the mistake and pitted for a second time on Lap 49. Taking on the Softs, he took the fastest lap point and finished P3.
“There’s not a lot of pleasure from finishing third.” Hamilton said afterwards. “Going backwards is never a great thing. Still, it was a great race. He [Leclerc] did a great job. It was nice and tight for a long time and they deserved the win – they did a better job.”
Asked about the hard battle between himself and Leclerc after the first stops, Hamilton said: “Uhh, that’s racing. Yeah, it’s just racing I guess. I had to avoid colliding with him a couple of times but I guess that’s how the racing is today. You just move forwards.”
As for whether he felt he could have beaten Leclerc had he also taken on the Hard tyre, Hamilton said he didn’t think it changed the winner: “I mean yeah, if I had gone onto the hard tyre I probably would have had the pace to have finished second, with a tyre that goes longer, but I wouldn’t have changed the position between myself and Charles I think. They were ultimately just a little bit too quick today. I did ask in the morning if I could go to the hard tyres and they said no. They said that because we hadn’t run it they didn’t it was quick enough. I think the tyre we were on was quick but I did say in the meeting this morning that the tyre was potentially going to go off the cliff. It was because I was following so closely behind for so long, just really on the ragged edge, trying to get as close as I could to get in shooting distance of trying to overtake. But every time I opened up the DRS – I don’t know if you were going to a different power mode – but the gap would stay the same. It’s pretty incredible the speed they have on the straights.”