While Lewis Hamilton didn’t enjoy the cleanest of races at the Austrian GP, he originally had a plan to beat Valtteri Bottas for the win. Without the time penalty and multiple safety cars, Hamilton’s original strategy could have sealed him a race victory.
Starting from fifth, the British driver quickly made up places to tuck in behind his Mercedes teammate. Before all the craziness that unfolded at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton was chipping away at Bottas’ lead.
Turns out, the six times World Champion wanted to implement a different strategy to pass the Finn for the win. Hamilton initially planned to go long in his first stint and switch to a different compound and make a move during the dying stages of the race.
As we now know, the Austrian Grand Prix turned out to be a race of attrition. Multiple retirements resulted in a handful of safety car periods, rendering Lewis’ plans redundant. Tangling with Alex Albon didn’t help the Briton’s cause either.
To make matters worse, Mercedes was battling sensor issues on both cars, which required sensible and clean driving from both drivers. As a result, it would have been unlikely for Hamilton to push towards the end of the race.
“Now when you’re in a team like ours, the first car always gets the priority in the stop. And so if you both come out on the same tyres, you’re pretty much stuffed at a track like this.
“Particularly where it’s very, very hard to overtake.
“So I knew that on the same tire, I would most likely be finishing behind. Then obviously the safety car came out and that really kind of messed with things, because I was gonna plan to try and extend my stint as long as I could then stop for the opposite tyre, basically, and just take a risk, because ultimately [when I’m] behind that’s ultimately what I like doing, taking a risk” said Hamilton, speaking to Motorsport.com.
The 6 times World Champion endured yet another difficult race in Spielberg on Sunday. However, he has one more chance to make things right.