Both Mercedes drivers suffered tyre punctures in the final stages of the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff react.
Lewis Hamilton finished the British Grand Prix in dramatic fashion after be suffered a punctured tyre in the last lasp. The Briton however managed to limp to the finish line and win the race.
“That last lap, until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing the tyres felt great,“ said Hamilton.
“Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard, and I was doing some management of the tyre and he looked like he wasn’t. When I heard that his tyre went, I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine.
“The car was still turning no problem so I thinking, ‘maybe it’s ok’ and those last few laps I started to back off and down the straight it deflated and I just noticed the shape just shift a bit that was definitely heart in the mouth feeling because I wasn’t quite sure it had gone down until I hit the brakes. And then you could see the tyre was falling off the rim.
“Just driving it trying to keep the speed up, sometimes it will take off and break the wing I was just praying it would get round and it would not be too slow, I nearly didn’t get round the last two corners.
“But thank God it did, I really owe it to the team, ultimately we should have stopped towards the end once we saw the delamination.”
Despite this crazy situation, the Briton managed to keep a cool head.
“You’d be really surprised, well may or may not be surprised, but I was really chill for some reason at the end.
“Bono [race engineer Peter Bonnington] was giving me the information of the gap I think it was 30 seconds at one stage, it was coming down quite quickly and in my mind I’m thinking like ‘how far is it to the end of the lap?’
“I got to 15 and that’s where it was a bit of a struggle and I could hear the gap coming down from 19 to 10 and I remember giving it full gas out of 15 down to 16 and the thing wasn’t stopping. So I got to the corner and a lot of understeer and I heard him go 9, 8, 7 [seconds] and I was like ‘just get back to the power’ trying to get it to turn.
“Oh my god. I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap. And my heart definitely probably nearly stopped.
“I think that’s probably how cool I was, because my heart nearly stopped,” concluded Hamilton.
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His team-mate Valtteri Bottas wasn’t as lucky. The Finn also got a puncture on lap 50, so he had to go to the pits and ultimately finished eleventh.
“Of course, really disappointing and very unlucky,” said Bottas.
“I was aware I got a puncture so I had to go around the whole lap. So not ideal. We knew it was going to be a long stint with the hard tyre. Of course I was trying to put pressure on Lewis.
“But towards the end I was starting to get more and more vibration. I reported that and then at the end I had in my mind that who knows, there could be an issue. So of course, I started to manage a bit.
“But it just happened like this, so sudden, I couldn’t really predict it happening. Not much more to say really.”
Bottas also warns there could be more problems with tyres in next week’s race, which will also be held at Silverstone.
“It’s going to be an issue for everyone. For sure one stop is not going to happen with the compounds we have next week.
“So I’m sure there still will be lots of things learned from this weekend. But just need to move on, I guess,” concluded the Finn.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff didn’t hide his disappointment with what happened in the last stages of the race.
“When Valtteri’s tyre broke up, I was very disappointed,” said Wolff.
“His flat tyre was at the only imaginable point on the track… He drove another solid race and should have taken eighteen points here.
“Lewis shouted the exact same sentence over the radio. We really didn’t think that could be true. He also got the flat tyre at a very bad time, but he just managed to make it. We were also a bit lucky.”
Wolff was asked whether he thinks Max Verstappen could have won the race if he hadn’t pitted to go for a fastest lap.
“You don’t know if the pit stop saved him a flat tyre or if it cost him the victory,” concluded the Austrian.