F1 | US GP | “Using hard tyres didn’t cost Hamilton the win”, Mercedes’ Motorsport Strategy director Vowles believes
After Lewis Hamilton saw his chances of winning his first race of the season vanishing in front of his eyes, Mercedes' Motorsport Strategy Director explained what happened.
Mercedes Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles has no doubts: Lewis Hamilton didn’t miss the chance of winning his first race of the season in Austin.
Hamilton’s W13 took the lead of the United States GP after Verstappen’s slow pit stop. However, the Briton saw his victory prospects slip away when the new World Champion easily passed him with six laps remaining.
Verstappen left the pits on medium tyres, six seconds behind Hamilton, who was driving the harder compound. After passing Leclerc, Verstappen closed on Hamilton, took the lead and won the race by over five seconds.
After the race, the seven time world champion openly questioned the team’s choice of compound for the final stint. Mercedes’ James Vowles explained their strategy in a video released by the team.
“The decision for what tyres we have in the race actually stems all the way back to the week before the race,” he said.
“In our case, what we’d highlighted is we thought the hard tyre, between the medium and the hard, would be the more useful compound. It certainly was the year prior and we thought the soft – as really turned out to be the case as well – would be too weak in the race.
“We made that decision before the race weekend started and part of the complication that you have is that you have to have enough soft tyres in qualifying to be able to get through successfully against the balance of enough race tyres to have a successful race.”
Using hard tyres for the final stint did not cost Hamilton a chance to win the race, Vowles believes.
“I don’t think so, I think we have evidence from stint one of the race where we have both Lewis and Verstappen on that medium tyre – he pulled five seconds relative to us and in fact we started to fall off the degradation curve at the end of that stint.
“Our car simply on the day wasn’t quite on the pace he needed it to and the hard tyre whilst it was worse at the beginning of the stint actually provided quite a good sensible long stint against the medium. I think the truth is that we had a good shot at trying to win the race, we benefitted from a few circumstances that put us ahead but it wasn’t really the tyre choice that would have made the difference.”
The most successful Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won a race in 2022 but can count three second place finishes to his name. Will he achieve his first victory in one of the three races remaining in the calendar?