Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has insisted that the Safety Car’s arrival did not change the outcome of the British Grand Prix. According to the 5-time World Champion, he was committed to a one-stop strategy and leapfrogging team-mate Valtteri Bottas was inevitable.
Initially, Lewis Hamilton tried to snatch the lead from Bottas on the track itself, but settled for a strategic masterstroke in the pits. Race leader Bottas dove in first for a set of Medium tyres a clear sign that he needed a second stop. Later on, when Antonio Giovinazzi beached his car in the gravel and brought out the Safety Car, Hamilton took it as an invitation to pit.
Contrary to Bottas’ strategy, Lewis Hamilton opted for Hard tyres while the Safety Car slowing the pack resulted in him retaining the lead. So, while Bottas had to come in again, Lews Hamilton saw no need to come in for the remainder of the race.
“I was going to do a one-stop and he was on a two, so it wouldn’t have made any difference, the Safety Car, wouldn’t have made a difference,” said Hamilton.
“When he pitted on lap 16 my plan was to offset as much as I could so I think I went four laps or something and probably could have done another lap or two.
“At the time he was not catching me, which he should have been, but I was keeping the gap the same. I think he came out of the pits seven-tenths inside my window, so I would have pitted and he would be seven-tenths ahead, then it came to one [second], one-and-a-half, stayed around one-and-a-half to two.
“If I did another lap maybe [it would have been] two-and-a-half and I would have come out on my fresh Hards and I could have just sat behind him if I wanted to and he would have had to pit, so would still have had that 21-second gap. So it didn’t really make a difference.”
According to Hamilton, his strategy was a “difficult call” owing to lack of data from the Hard tyre.
“They [the strategists] give us as much information as they can but ultimately I’ve got to figure out how I’ve got to get past this guy [Bottas],” said Hamilton.
“If I can’t pass him on the track how am I going to out-do him on pace, tyre life, all these kinds of things.
“I already in the morning decided going into the race that I was going to do a Hard tyre on my second stint but it was a really difficult call for everyone as we only had one Hard tyre, we didn’t test it in the long runs, I think only one or two teams tested it, so it was a bit of an unknown how off pace you’d be.
“I was supposed to start the race and save the tyres and I went flat out from the beginning which was definitely not expected from anyone and Valtteri definitely did not expect it.
“The long runs, everyone else’s tyres were degrading massively and I had the best long run on Friday than everyone.
“So I’m sure everyone would have seen my data and been looking at how I saved the tyres and tried to do the same, and I just did the opposite!
“I just went for it and risked it all basically trying to get past. We had a great, great battle which is awesome, I hope we get to have more like that.”