Is Lewis Hamilton’s position really as vulnerable as it might seem going into Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix?
What’s more, two of the quickest starters behind him have landed on the cleaner side of the grid: team mate Valtteri Bottas in third position and Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault in fifth, which has made some great getaways lately.
Carlos Sainz Jnr is among those concerned one side of the grip will offer much more grip than the other. “There is a dirty side, particularly this year off-line it looks very dirty,” he said.
“Today in the out-laps whenever I was trying to overtake a car or get out of line, the dirty side or off-line it was particularly dirty. A lot of stones, a lot of dust coming out of the car in front.
“So I do feel like it’s not the ideal place to start. I like starting sixth, I think it’s a good place to start, it’s just this side of the grid looks particularly dirty.”
Hamilton raised concerns about his starting tyre compound after qualifying. Following various setbacks in Q2, Hamilton was forced to accept starting the race on soft tyres instead of the favoured mediums.
“I did plead to have the medium tyre but they weren’t having it,” he explained afterwards. “Naturally I think we will have a discussion at the end, whether it was right or wrong. It doesn’t matter now, it’s happened so we will just make do with what we have.”
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Max Verstappen, who cleverly exploited Bottas’s tow to join Hamilton on the front row, and Bottas in third place will both start on the medium rubber.
“It’s clearly not the optimum strategy,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, “because after some laps, the soft is clearly going to suffer. That means it compromises your whole race because you probably need to pit into traffic. And then obviously it’s not a great situation.”
But other teams who have qualified on the soft tyres are less concerned. Renault’s sporting director Alan Permane predicted those starting on the soft rubber will be able to do “15, 20 or so laps” at the start, which is hardly a drama in a 53-lap race.
“It’s not as bad as we’ve seen certainly before here in previous years on an even stiffer compound. I think when we had the thicker gauge tires, the C4 we had here one year was awful. This tyre’s behaving pretty well for a soft tyre. So I don’t think we’ve got any concerns.
“Some people were running reasonably long stints on it yesterday afternoon. We saw people I think this morning running multiple laps on it and going faster. So no, we’re not worried about it.
“You see the top three have gone on the medium, that’s because they’re in their own race and it just makes things a little bit more comfortable for them. But I don’t think there’s a great deal between the two.”
Hamilton’s tyres therefore may not be the disadvantage he fears they are. They may even hand him a vital advantage when he needs it most.
The extra initial grip at the start of the race may even give him a useful few extra metres’ advantage over Bottas on that long run to the first braking zone. One ‘disadvantage’ could therefore cancel out the other.
Quotes: Dieter Rencken
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Qualifying times in full
|Driver||Car||Q1||Q2 (vs Q1)||Q3 (vs Q2)|
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1’32.983||1’32.835 (-0.148)||1’31.304 (-1.531)|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’33.630||1’33.157 (-0.473)||1’31.867 (-1.290)|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1’32.656||1’32.405 (-0.251)||1’31.956 (-0.449)|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1’33.704||1’33.038 (-0.666)||1’32.317 (-0.721)|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1’33.650||1’32.218 (-1.432)||1’32.364 (+0.146)|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren||1’33.967||1’32.757 (-1.210)||1’32.550 (-0.207)|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1’33.557||1’33.196 (-0.361)||1’32.624 (-0.572)|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||1’33.804||1’33.081 (-0.723)||1’32.847 (-0.234)|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1’33.734||1’33.139 (-0.595)||1’33.000 (-0.139)|
|10||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||1’33.919||1’33.153 (-0.766)||1’33.008 (-0.145)|
|11||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1’34.071||1’33.239 (-0.832)|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1’33.511||1’33.249 (-0.262)|
|13||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1’33.852||1’33.364 (-0.488)|
|14||George Russell||Williams||1’34.020||1’33.583 (-0.437)|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1’34.134||1’33.609 (-0.525)|
|17||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1’34.594|
|20||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1’35.267|
|Driver||Sector 1||Sector 2||Sector 3|
|Lewis Hamilton||33.361 (2)||31.330 (1)||26.544 (1)|
|Max Verstappen||33.513 (3)||31.613 (3)||26.741 (3)|
|Valtteri Bottas||33.337 (1)||31.459 (2)||26.844 (6)|
|Sergio Perez||33.884 (7)||31.696 (6)||26.635 (2)|
|Daniel Ricciardo||33.631 (4)||31.691 (5)||26.827 (5)|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||33.908 (9)||31.690 (4)||26.888 (8)|
|Esteban Ocon||33.904 (8)||31.894 (8)||26.818 (4)|
|Lando Norris||34.017 (13)||31.889 (7)||26.860 (7)|
|Pierre Gasly||34.029 (14)||31.984 (9)||26.987 (11)|
|Alexander Albon||33.940 (11)||32.086 (10)||26.966 (10)|
|Charles Leclerc||33.967 (12)||32.254 (13)||27.018 (12)|
|Daniil Kvyat||33.939 (10)||32.204 (12)||26.952 (9)|
|Lance Stroll||33.870 (5)||32.194 (11)||27.300 (15)|
|George Russell||33.870 (5)||32.358 (15)||27.355 (16)|
|Sebastian Vettel||34.152 (15)||32.338 (14)||27.079 (13)|
|Romain Grosjean||34.611 (20)||32.728 (17)||27.253 (14)|
|Antonio Giovinazzi||34.358 (16)||32.817 (18)||27.419 (18)|
|Kevin Magnussen||34.433 (18)||32.719 (16)||27.380 (17)|
|Nicholas Latifi||34.396 (17)||32.927 (19)||27.743 (20)|
|Kimi Raikkonen||34.501 (19)||33.098 (20)||27.668 (19)|
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Over to you
Does Verstappen have a hope of beating the Mercedes drivers? Who will take the all-important lead at the start?
Share your views on the Russian Grand Prix in the comments.
2020 Russian Grand Prix
- Stroll surprised Leclerc avoided penalty for race-ending Sochi clash
- Despite F1 drivers’ concerns, stewards don’t give penalty points for “minor infringements”
- Sochi’s turn two is “not right” and should be changed for next year – Steiner
- 2020 Russian Grand Prix Star Performers
- “Slower” Ferrari only beat us because of Q3 tyre rule – Tost
29 comments on “Will Hamilton really miss the medium tyres he ‘pleaded’ for?”
David BR (@david-br)
26th September 2020, 22:52
Even if Bottas gets past Hamilton at the start, it’s difficult to imagine him staying there. Hamilton was over a half second faster on the same tyres: medium v. soft? No chance. Although he’s talked already about ‘nursing’ the tyres, we might actually see Hamilton set a fast pace and leave Bottas with the puzzle of how much of a gap he can afford to leave. Hamilton has been far better at combining speed and tyre preservation. This would be an ideal race to push Bottas to the limit. Could all be undone for Hamilton with an untimely SC cancelling out any gap he makes on the softs, but maybe worth the risk.
26th September 2020, 23:00
if a sc comes out then its advantage to ham as he gets a free pitstop to get rid of softs.
27th September 2020, 5:11
Grab your popcorn. It is going to be an intense race of strategies. Bottas needs to get P2 at the start if he wants to win this race.
27th September 2020, 10:01
Bottas will never actually accomplish anything.
27th September 2020, 10:07
I think Bottas has a great chance of getting P1 at the start tbf @krichelle
27th September 2020, 10:49
I believe that too. I am also thinking that he deliberately wanted P3. Especially considering what Sainz just said. In the F2 race yesterday, Schumacher from P3 easily beat Ilott off the line. Over the last three years, we saw what the driver from P3 can do in the start. It will be easier to pick up the tow from Hamilton..
27th September 2020, 12:48
26th September 2020, 22:52
George Russell’s Williams had the 5th quickest 1st sector, running a different set up to Latifi or just much quicker?
27th September 2020, 0:17
@djarvis I’ve not seen the lap but, looking at the data as seen on today’s roundup, it appears that he was slow at the start of the straight but was purple for the rest of the straight, implying that the exit of the previous corner was average but he had a pretty mega tow which then didnt affect him for the rest of the lap.
26th September 2020, 22:56
We all know he’ll slaughter the rest of the grid tomorrow mainly down to his car advantage and appallingly weak teammate.
Please stop entertaining the Lewis Hamilton drama show, it’s tiring.
27th September 2020, 7:04
I wonder what your point is exactly!
27th September 2020, 8:11
That he could win the GP on dead tyres from 1988, such is the car advantage.
I mean, when was the last time Bottas beat him on merit? It doesn’t happen, partly because of talent but also partly because Mercedes doesn’t let it happen.
26th September 2020, 23:01
For a moment he seemed stuck at p15… Now that would be a fun race.
27th September 2020, 1:48
Indeed, was kinda hoping for it cause in monza he “started” 19 seconds behind the penultimate (albon) and had half a race distance, by starting 15th, or even just 20th with a standing start he should be able to fight for the first positions with the car he has.
27th September 2020, 10:24
Yeah, Ferrari aka vettel’s ‘crash’ could have derailed Hamilton’s progress to that 91st win. As it is that ‘crash’ shows a level of desperation which only belittle’s them as a team.
I can just see their minds – ‘Hamilton hasn’t recorded a time, and he’s running out of time, how can we exploit that situation…’. Answer try and ‘red flag’ Q2.
The fact that Hamilton, with all that added pressure, still managed to set a decent time (4th) is further testament to his skills as a driver.
27th September 2020, 10:44
Sure, not only Vettel’s crash yesterday was obviously deliberate, he has been practising it for the last three years so he could deliver it to perfection. That’s the secret behind all his apparently silly crashes these last few years.
27th September 2020, 0:00
I’m wondering if he’ll deliberately offer Verstappen a better tow. Verstappen has fallen far enough behind in the WDC that he isn’t really a threat.
Plus his team will employ all strategy options to pass Verstappen. if Bottas gets ahead of him the team might not allow some strategies.
It’s the only problem with letting Verstappen have a good toe is the possibility of a collision with him on the first lap.
27th September 2020, 1:15
That’ll take strategy to a while another level and it’s not convoluted either like Ferrari had last year.
27th September 2020, 0:22
Frankly, I cant see why the soft tyres are such a big disadvantage for the top runners. If Max or Bottas jumps him at the start (less likely due to the soft tyre advantage to begin with) and is still ahead at the pit stop, as soon as Hamilton pits he will either get the undercut and regain the lead, or the leader will pit the following lap to cover and then there will be no advantage to starting on the mediums.
27th September 2020, 1:09
If I was Hamilton I’d be tempted to sprint off if leading after the first corner. Try and get a 5+ second gap by lap 10 then if the traffic looks okay switch to a 2 stop.
Simba Wa Nyika
27th September 2020, 3:12
Most likely traffic will still be bunched up at lap 10.
27th September 2020, 6:33
Does Verstappen have a hope of beating the Mercedes drivers? – Not on pure pace
Who will take the all-important lead at the start? – HAM.
27th September 2020, 8:35
I think the RBs and Renaults are pretty good on tyres so Bottas may be in the firing line particularly from Verstappen. When was the last time Hamilton Verstappen Sainz or Ricciardo mucked up a start Bottas on the other hand…
Hamilton would seem to have the pace (as usual) to open up a pit stop sized gap. So given RB are excellent at the strategy wars I wouldn’t be surprised to see Verstappen on the second step.
27th September 2020, 9:06
Low tyre wear on this circuit.
27th September 2020, 10:18
Here is my prediction for the start: Hamilton gets off the line well, while Bottas and Verstappen have similar starts. Hamilton then stays to the left of the the track, giving Bottas a tow and edging him ahead of Verstappen, before Hamilton moves to protect the inside line for turn 2. Order after turn 2 will be Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Verstappen.
27th September 2020, 10:29
Or Hamilton’s allows Verstappen to get ahead then he slips stream Verstappen to retake the position. As long as he keeps Bottas behind Hamilton won’t mind what Verstappen does. Worst case, Hamilton is 4th into the second corner.
27th September 2020, 10:37
Btw, has there been any footage of Mercedes actually using their DAS system in a race, e.g. To heat up their tires after a restart, etc?
If that system is still incorporated, you’d think we would have seen examples of it, particularly in Q2 when Hamilton’s needed to warm up his tires, and his team were insisting he starts on the Fasts, because the Mediums wouldn’t reach temperature in time.
F1 in Figures (@f1infigures)
27th September 2020, 11:06
It seems Bottas didn’t string his best sector times together. He only lost a chunk of time in the final sector compared to Hamilton, but not 6 tenths.
As for the start, the speed-trap figures may be useful. Last time at Mugello Bottas seemed vulnerable at the restarts as he had a slightly lower top speed. I believe Hamilton has the highest top speed, which, in combination with his softer tires, give him a decent chance to retain the lead. Verstappen, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to lose places at the start.
If Hamilton retains the lead, he’ll nurse his tires in the first ten laps or so. If Bottas jumps to the lead, he might force Hamilton to take too much out of his tires, which could be interesting, or extremely boring if Hamilton takes it easy and allows him to build a decent gap.
27th September 2020, 11:36
Slowest formation lap in history coming up!
Comments are closed.