Mercedes competed at the front in Silverstone for the first time this season. Although they lost their most consistent driver George Russell early in the race. Lewis Hamilton was magnificent with his W13, and the new upgrades worked for him pretty well. The seven-time world champion had the longest first-place stint during the race. He was on course to win the race at home.
But, a late safety car due to Esteban Ocon’s retirement hampered his chances during the final few laps. Moreover, Mercedes’ tyre strategy during the latter half of the race in Silverstone has also been questioned by Red Bull boss Christian Horner. The former British driver has claimed that the Silver Arrows let Ferrari off the hook due to an error in their tyre strategy.
The weekend’s practice was hampered by the rainy weather in Silverstone, resulting in shortened practice sessions. As a result, teams were not able to test the individual performance of each tyres on the track. Hence, Sunday’s race saw the grid relying on three different compounds during the start, a rare sight in F1. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen opted for soft tyres, while the two Ferraris, Sergio Perez, and Lewis Hamilton went with the mediums. However, Max changed to mediums after the red flag while six other drivers decided to go for softs, with no car using the hards.
Luckily, Lewis Hamilton‘s tyre degradation was good, and he went on to drive 33 laps in mediums while catching up with the two Ferraris ahead of him. Meanwhile, the two Ferrari switched to hards early during the 20th and 25th lap. However, with only 19 laps to go, former British driver, Martin Brundle suggested the idea that Lewis could take the soft tyres. This would have allowed him to get ahead of the two Ferraris racing on hards.
Horner Believes Mercedes Had Their Tyre Strategy Wrong
Christian Horner felt that Mercedes missed out on an opportunity to beat Ferrari. Horner blamed the Silvers Arrows’ tyre strategy, which cost them a victory at Hamilton’s home circuit. The former British driver was surprised that Lewis did not go with the soft compound tyres with the number of laps left and the kind of degradation he had shown.
Christian further stated that Lewis went on to the hard compounds during Lap 33. The Red Bull boss thought that the Briton would opt for the soft. This is because it would have been much easier for Lewis to make the grip offset. Horner added, “It felt like Ferrari have been let off the hook there.”
Moreover, Lewis decided to switch from his hards to soft compound with the late safety car after Ocon’s retirement. But the Mercedes driver struggled with the tyre temperature. And this allowed Leclerc and Perez to get ahead of him. Eventually, Hamilton was left fighting for the podium as he passed Leclerc. However, he had to settle behind Carlos Sainz and Checo, who finished first and second, respectively.
Thus, if Lewis had the soft tyres during Lap 33, he would have been in the lead when the safety car was deployed. Horner said that it is tough to pit under the safety car while leading the race. The Red Bull boss concluded, “Hamilton had a free stop. When you’re the lead car, it is the hardest thing in the world to pit from the lead.”