Hamilton believes this strategy would have paid off for Ferrari. “Having looked back I’m not surprised [they did that],” he said. “I think he had the pace to get through on that tyre. And if he had got through on that tyre and qualified in Q3 he would have been on pole.”
Leclerc’s crash left Sebastian Vettel as the only Ferrari driver running in Q3. Vettel was unable to get a slipstream for his final Q3 lap, partly due to Mercedes’ ‘dummy’ practice start tactics, and was bumped back to third by the silver cars.
But Hamilton believes Ferrari “definitely were quicker” than Mercedes in Baku. “Our estimates are Vettel would have been two-tenths quicker than Valtteri [Bottas] if he’d had the tow that, for example, we had. And on top of that Leclerc was always two-tenths quicker than him all weekend.”
Starting on the medium would have put Leclerc at a greater advantage as the soft tyres did not work well in Baku, Hamilton added.
“There are races that we go to that, if you can get through on the harder tyre, it is better. Especially in a race like that where the start distance is so short, the benefit of a softer tyre is minimised.
“So if he’d started on that tyre we would not have seen him. He would have disappeared as we all struggled on the soft tyre throughout the race.”
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2019 F1 season
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