British Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says he made the decision to extend his first stint that proved decisive in Sunday’s race at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton won his home race on Sunday at Silverstone in the F1 British Grand Prix. Having been beaten to pole position by teammate Valtteri Bottas on Saturday, Hamilton kept the Finn under pressure throughout the opening stint of the race. This included one attack where he actually managed to overtake Bottas into Brooklands before Bottas wrested the place back on exit from Woodcote.
Bottas eventually steadied the ship to lead Hamilton by around 1.5 seconds when he dived into the pits on Lap 16, shedding his used Mediums for a fresh set – committing himself to a two stop strategy as a result.
Hamilton, having started on the same tyre compound, might have been expected to follow suit but it quickly became evident that he had gone down a different strategy route as he stayed out and Bottas began catching back up again. Whatever might have played out strategy wise between the pair became irrelevant just four laps after Bottas’ stop, when Antonio Giovinazzi spun off the road and beached his Alfa Romeo in the gravel.
With the Safety Car deployed, Hamilton was able to make a pitstop and get back out in the lead. He opted for the Hard tyre at this stop, meaning he had a safe run on them for the remaining thirty laps, while Bottas was still in P2 and on a strategy that forced him to pit again.
Asked about the strategy choice after the race, Hamilton explained the thought process that went in to the two sides of the garage going different directions: “We have the meetings in the morning and they do thousands of simulations of the different strategies. So we’re shown a handful of them: maybe ten different strategies that could happen if we lose position; if we hold position; if we switch positions; all these different things. There was… it’s very difficult for a team – because we are a team – but then individually we want to win. So the team has to do the best and most balance approach for both of us. Most of the simulations come out with ultimately the first car… if you do a good enough job in qualifying, the first car generally gets priority etcetera and it gets quite hard to overtop that, unless you do it on track, or undercut and those kind of things.”
Continuing, Hamilton said: “We had discussed the opportunity of… I think the fastest way to the end of the race was Medium-Medium-Hard, I believe – but there were alternative strategies. That was something I looked into, and I had already decided at the beginning of the race that I was going to take the hard, in the middle stint and extend my first stint to Lap 20 or 21 – whatever it was.”
“Did I know that we were going to stay on the one-stop? No. But, we have to be strategists, almost, a little bit inside ourselves, and it something we’re constantly working on, trying to finesse, because it’s always different. There’s always new figures that have to be put in, from each race, and no-one ever gets it perfect – but the cool thing is that it enabled us to race today. What they probably didn’t expect is that we were going to push so much at the beginning. I think we were expected to save our tyres and stuff – but we were racing pretty hard – which is how racing should be, y’know? So, I’m happy we were able to do that today.”