During the Eifel Grand Prix qualifying Mercedes opted to put their drivers on medium tyres in their first Q2 run. However, while Hamilton was able to produce a time that put him in P2, Valtteri Bottas wasn’t doing as good and slumped to eighth.
The team then put both drivers on soft tyres, to make sure they get through into Q3. Hamilton admits he would have preferred to get through Q2 on mediums.
“I could have got through on that tyre,” said the Briton.
“I wanted to start on it, just because I always like to do something different, but the team chose for us to both be on the same tyre.
“We’ll see whether it was the right choice tomorrow. I’m sure it was the right choice. The other one would have been a little bit harder.”
Ultimately Hamilton was outqualified by his team-mate by more than two tenths of a second.
“I’ll have to go back [and review the data], but definitely Q2 felt good, and when I got to Q3, it just didn’t feel good, either run, so just the grip didn’t feel the same,” explained Hamilton.
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During today’s qualifying session drivers had trouble getting their tyres up to temperature, due to relatively cold weather. Hamilton thinks this could make tyre management difficult in the race.
“The usual effects from the track getting colder is the front tyres usually suffer a bit more. We generally have a bit more understeer potentially.
“If there’s safety cars, restarting our tyres is going to be a struggle, that’s for sure.
“We’re all in the same boat. I don’t really know how far the tyres will go, but when it gets a bit cooler, generally they can go a bit further, because they work in a slightly different range.
“I hope this is still exciting tomorrow somehow,” concluded the Briton.
After qualifying Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explained why the team decided have both of their drivers start on soft tyres.
“In the debrief, that was discussed, and it’s clear that the soft is the right tyre to start with, and Lewis agreed to that,” said the Austrian.
“The reasons being that starting on the medium, you’re losing about three or four metres against the soft, and all his competitors are around on softs. So it makes no sense to take big risks and a big gamble.
“You could clearly see in Q2 that nobody would have qualified on the mediums, so you would have had a real disadvantage for the first few laps. It was a clear decision.
“Obviously Lewis doesn’t like to be in P2 or worse. That’s why an alternative strategy always makes a lot of sense, just accepting to follow a car is not how he operates.
“The soft was the right choice.”
Wolff also commented on the fact that the teams had limited time for practice running due to both Friday’s free practice sessions being cancelled.
“We’re not so much in the dark, it’s just more of adapting to the new situation, working with less data, and accepting that tomorrow there will be learning by doing,” explained Wolff.
“The whole grid believes the soft tyre is a good tyre to start with, and then we’ll see how that pans out, whether it’s a two-stop or a one.
“Obviously there is no data from long runs, whether the hards or the mediums are the right choice.
“I find it super exciting,” concluded the Austrian.