Sir Lewis Hamilton said he tested Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres at Imola because he plans to be here to race with them in 2022.
As part of the delayed new regulations arriving in 2022, Pirelli will discontinue the 13-inch rubber and roll out their 18-inch successors to work with the next generation of Formula 1 cars.
Pirelli have 30 days of testing to spread across the teams in 2021, and following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola it was over to Mercedes for the latest round of data gathering.
By the end of Tuesday Hamilton had clocked up 130 laps, and he did so because he intends on sticking around in Formula 1 for 2022, countering the prospect of retirement at the end of this season when his one-year Mercedes deal is due to expire.
“Firstly, I don’t ever volunteer for test days, that is probably one of the first ones that I have volunteered for,” he told reporters ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.
“So I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning! I was like ‘damn it’. But it was a really great track to do the test at so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good.
“I plan to be here next year and I want to be a part of that, I want to help Pirelli.”
That being said, Hamilton admitted that he is “pretty spontaneous so it could always change”.
“But I’m enjoying this battle that we’re having [with Max Verstappen]. It’s been more exciting. It’s been even more of a challenge,” he added.
Over the years Hamilton has not always kept his words soft or sweet when it relates to Pirelli tyres. So, the seven-time World Champion needed an early feeling for the 2022 prototypes to avoid similar frustrations next year.
“It’s something that drivers, all of us I think, have wished for – [higher] performance tyres – moving forward. So it was important for me to see, to gauge where the starting point is and what differences I can help [with],” he continued.
“So that, first of all, from a drivers’ point of view, we have more grip, more mechanical grip in our tyres, less degradation. It was a good test and obviously it was the first step with the tyres. But it definitely wasn’t a bad place to start.”