Hamilton: Bluffing about tyres is ‘very fine line’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton wearing street clothes and mask. Spain, February 2022.

Lewis Hamilton in the paddock wearing street clothes and a mask. Spain, February 2022.

Known for complaining about his tyres only to put in a fastest lap, Lewis Hamilton says his tyre bluffs are a “fine line” as he doesn’t want to confuse his own team.

Hamilton has earned a reputation as a driver who complains a lot about his tyres, at times sounding quite desperate about it.

But it is not because he’s hard on his tyres, rather it is because he is trying to fake-out a rival.

From “rears are dropping off” to them being “finished” or “moving around a lot”, even a “wasted already”, Hamilton’s grumbles about his tyres are all a part of the games he plays.

And very often those complaints are followed by a fastest lap or three, or the Briton staying out longer than the cars he is racing against.

He admits those messages are often said to deceive rival teams, he just has to make sure his own Mercedes team doesn’t fall for it.

“Sometimes, the worst thing if you bluff your own teams. So you’ve got to be careful,” he said in an interview posted onto CrowdStrike’s YouTube channel.

“In the past, there have been times where it’s worked in benefit but it’s a very, very, very fine line.

“The other teams are listening to what you’re saying, so everyone is listening out to who’s pitting when.”

That, though, is not the only part of the game played over the radio.

The seven-time World Champion says he and Mercedes are often on the bubble when it comes to confirming a pit stop as they don’t want to give the rest of the field a heads up.

“I don’t know if people that are watching know that we call the latest time on the lap when they can call me in for a pit stop so usually the second to last or last corner,” he said.

“That gives the team enough time to get the tyres run out before the other team can react.

“That’s super exciting. I really enjoy that.”

Pit stops and the timing of them can often decide a race with the undercut proving to a useful tool in recent years as the Formula 1 cars have not made following, or overtaking, easy.

This year, though, the sport has adopted ground effect aerodynamic cars in the hope of change that, thus leading to better racing.

Hamilton was fifth fastest on the first day of pre-season running in Barcelona, getting 50 laps under his belt in the Mercedes W13 on Wednesday afternoon.


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Hamilton on the ‘fine line’ for tyre bluffs

Lewis Hamilton has said there is a fine line for tyre bluffing.