Lewis Hamilton has been left in “real shock” that Mercedes struggled so much with tyre management at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Hamilton was looking for a fourth straight win in 2020 and eighth Formula 1 career win at Silverstone but he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas simply had no answers for Red Bull’s alternative tyre strategy with the victorious Max Verstappen.
The blisters on both medium and hard compounds were clear for all to see on the Mercedes W11s and Hamilton, who still manages to hold a 30-point lead in the World Championship with his P2 finish, was simply powerless to stop it from happening.
“That was such a difficult race,” Hamilton said back in the paddock at Silverstone.
“I love a challenge but that was just an unexpected challenge. Last race we were struggling with understeer, front tyres blistering and running out and this weekend the complete opposite.
“The left rear [this time] and there was nothing I could do. I tried to go slow through the corners to save it but it just wouldn’t work.
“It was a real shock. I then I couldn’t attack Valtteri as he was pulling away but I was really grateful in the second stint that I was able to extend [it].
“I was thinking should I stay out but I knew I couldn’t have matched Max’s times at the end so he probably would have caught me.
“And the tyre might have blown out. If the rear goes then it’s a crash into the wall so it was good decision by the team [to pit again].”
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 9, 2020
When asked if he had a reason as to why Mercedes struggle more with the tyres than others, Hamilton said: “Not that I know of at the moment.
“But I’m sure the team will be working as hard as they can, because we’ve not had that before.
“I would imagine most likely is obviously Pirelli were struggling with tyre failures last week.
“So then weekend on and weekend on, they just put the pressures up and up and up and up. They’re balloons now, they’re the highest pressures we’ve ever had on a track like that.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a thing for us. But I don’t know if anyone else struggled with blistering like we had so it’s something we’ll look into.
“Definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore as we experienced it.
“But I’m really grateful to have progressed and managed to just get my way through the race.
“I think right at the end I had blistering again but I’d been pushing pretty heavily to catch the guys.
“That second stint, I was managing like you couldn’t believe. I was managing to the best of my ability but it just didn’t make a single difference to that blistering.
“At the end I was just driving with half a tyre basically. If you look in the mirrors, one half was bald and the other side was okay, so it held together.
“But of course I was nervous it was going to explode.”
Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix - Drivers' Reaction
Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo discuss the Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.