Lewis Hamilton described the Spanish heat as “a killer” for F1 drivers – as Mercedes fear a repeat of their Silverstone tyre woes.
The World Champion and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas again dominated Friday practice, easily outpacing the opposition in both sessions to reaffirm their position as strong favourites for the Spanish Grand Prix.
But hot conditions, and the increased tyre wear that causes, has become the Achilles heel for Mercedes, as shown by their defeat to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend.
With Barcelona usually only visited by F1 in early May, for this race, or the winter, for pre-season testing, it will be a different experience in the scorching temperatures of mid-August – and not one that has Hamilton feeling entirely comfortable.
Now, time to delve into all that data! 🤓 pic.twitter.com/dYURomDjGN
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 14, 2020
“It’s definitely quite tough out there,” said the 35-year-old Briton. “I don’t think I’ve been to Spain when it’s been this hot – it’s beautiful weather but a killer in the car and obviously very tough on tyres as well.
“But it’s been a good day, particularly the second session was better for me, and on the long runs we looked very close with the Red Bull so I think it’s going to be a really close race.”
Tyre blistering was a big issue for Mercedes last week and Hamilton is concerned that it will rear its head again – although there was no immediate sign of it on Friday.
“The tyres are not happy in these conditions. You’re sliding around with overheating tyres,” he added. “I didn’t see any blistering today but then we didn’t see any last Friday either.
“The long run didn’t look too bad. I don’t know how much further we could go compared to Red Bull and that will determine whether it’s a one or two-stop race this weekend.”
Bottas was also concerned about tyre wear. “The morning session was maybe a bit better for me than the afternoon, but still good learnings,” said the Finn. “I think we are looking strong as a team, but the main thing will be on Sunday with the temperatures how we can keep the tyres in good condition.
“On a rough track like this the tyres are wearing rather than blistering. If we were back at Silverstone again I’m sure we could do a better job, but we did long runs on all the compounds today so there will be lots of learning points before we start racing.”
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