Christian Horner believes Mercedes poor tyre strategy cost Lewis Hamilton the chance of winning the Formula One 2022 British GP. Hamilton was competitive all race as the Silverstone circuit proved favourable for the troublesome Mercedes W13 car and having completed one of the longest first stints at a similar pace to the Ferrari’s on newer tyres, James Vowels strategy call for Lewis is now dubious.
The problem for all the teams was the British weather and shortened practice sessions meant none of them really knew how each tyre would perform. This saw the pre-race grid form up with all 3 tyre compounds present, something highly unusual.
For the race start Red Bull Racing put Max Verstappen on the softest tyre while the Ferrari’s, Perez and Hamilton were all on the mediums. After the red flag Max switched to the mediums, no one fitted the hard tyres while 6 other drivers decided to try the soft tyre.
Hamilton’s tyre degradation was good and managed 33 laps on the medium tyre while the Ferrari’s switched to the hard tyre on lap 20 and 25.
With just 19 laps to go, Martin Brundle mooted the idea that Lewis might make that on the soft tyre which of course would see him catch and pass the Ferrari’s relatively quickly.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner echoed the idea stating, “I’m was actually surprised that Lewis, with the amount off laps to go, and the degradation he’s shown, didn’t take the soft”.
“He went onto the hard tyre on lap 33, and I actually thought he was going to go onto the soft, because that would have made it much easier for him to make the offset in grip. It felt like Ferrari have been let off the hook there.”
The concern for Ferrari was Vettel after the red flag had chosen the soft tyre and abandoned it after just 8 laps. However, Sebastian’s car at the time would have had more than double the fuel load that Hamilton’s would have had by lap 33.
With hindsight the safety car brought out by Ocon’s retirement meant the soft tyre would absolutely have been the right choice for Lewis rather than the hard at his first stop. The soft tyre would have seen him pass the Ferrari’s as he did with LeClerc towards the end of the race. Lewis would then have been leading when the safety car was deployed.
However, the Red Bull team boss said it’s tough to pit under the safety car when leading the race. Something Mercedes failed to do in Abu Dhabi which cost Hamilton his 8th world title.
“[Hamilton] obviously had a free stop. When you’re the lead car, its the hardest thing in the world to pit from the lead.”
Of course had Lewis taken the soft tyre on lap 33, it’s questionable whether Mercedes would have pitted him from the lead when the safety car was deployed just 6 laps later.
Then had Ferrari rolled the dice, one of their drivers on the softer tyre would surely have challenged Hamilton at the restart.
Ferrari had their own strategy issues, failing to realise there would be a safety car deployed and despite having 11 seconds to call race leader Charles LeClerc in for new soft tyres the team appeared to dither. Team radio appears to show Charles LeClerc was told the pit window was closed as he approached the pit lane entry.
Yet 3 seconds later the Red Team called in his team mate Carlos Sainz and fitted him with new soft tyres. Sainz retained his position when rejoining behind the safety car.
Of course on fresh tyres LeClerc was a sitting duck, lost the lead to his team mate and was passed by Perez and Hamilton too finishing off the podium