Hamilton wasn’t worried about puncture, kept off kerbs

Date published: November 22 2021 - Michelle Foster

Toto Wolff speaking with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Qatar November 2021

Lewis Hamilton wasn’t worried that his Qatar Grand Prix would be ruined by a puncture even though his team-mate Valtteri Bottas lost P3 as a result.

Hamilton was in a league of his own under the lights at the Losail circuit.

Starting from pole position, he stormed away from the chasing pack and, even when it was his title rival Max Verstappen holding down P2, he was able to grow his advantage.

Mercedes went with a two-stop strategy with Hamilton responding when Verstappen pitted, with the team putting Bottas on a one-stopper.

That did not go according to plan as the Finnish racer, fighting to join his team-mate on the podium, suffered a puncture on lap 31.

Bottas dropped down the order as he limped back to the pits, the driver down in 14th place after his stop.

He retired later in the race, his W12 have suffered damage as a result of the puncture.

While Bottas had an early shower, Hamilton raced his way to the win.

He was asked after the grand prix if there had been any concerns about his own tyres with Pirelli’s initial reports putting the punctures, of which there were four in total, down to teams running long stints and the harsh Losail kerbs.

“No,” Hamilton when asked if he’d had any ‘nervous moments’ after Bottas’ puncture.

“I mean, I wasn’t… I was managing quite well, I wasn’t on any of the kerbs, so it wasn’t a concern for me.

“I assumed they were coming from people running on the kerbs but I was never near any of them, that wasn’t the issue.”

Bottas was one of four drivers who suffered tyre issues, the other three being the Williams team-mates and Lando Norris.

But while Bottas, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi were all on tyres older than 30 laps, Norris’ were only 23 laps old when he had to pit having noticed an issue.

Despite rivals having tyre troubles, Verstappen told Red Bull that he wanted to push harder, the team responded by telling him to watch out for the kerbs.

Asked if he was worried about a puncture, he replied: “No, I wasn’t worried about punctures. Everything felt quite alright.

“Of course the wear around here is quite high with these… higher with the high-speed corners but I was never worried about it.”