“They should be bald”: Hamilton’s tyre condition didn’t concern Mercedes

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Mercedes weren’t concerned by the outward appearance of Lewis Hamilton’s tyres in the final laps of the Turkish Grand Prix, despite considering a late pit stop for fresh rubber as a precaution.

The team’s trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin said the condition of the tyres wasn’t the concern, but their susceptibility to punctures or temperatures drops was.

“They hadn’t got a lot of rubber on them but to be honest, in a race when you transition from inter[mediate] to dry, every set you take off should look like that. They should be bald because that’s when you know you’re at the transition.

“So the appearance wasn’t really the worry. It was more that we’ve never, ever done nearly 300 kilometres on one set of intermediate tyres.

“We knew that they would be fairly worn and then it’s kind of the risk of punctures and stuff. Although surprisingly there wasn’t a lot of carbon around on the track the risk was quite low. The worry at the end of the race was only really that on a very worn tyre it’s easier to pick up a puncture.

“Also there was some rain coming and our tyres wouldn’t have been great in a reasonable amount of rain, they would have struggled for temperature. So we were talking about a pit stop, but it was really a precautionary stop.”

In ordinary circumstances Mercedes wouldn’t have considered a late pit stop as it wouldn’t have been an option. However Hamilton had enough of a lead over second place for the team to debate a tyre change.

“Having the option kind of creates creates the dilemma,” said Shovlin. “Most races you can’t stop from the lead, take new tyres and still be in the lead.”

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Hamilton said he did not pit because he recalled his experience of sliding into a gravel trap at the pit lane entrance during the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. That error, caused by pitting later than he should have done, contributed to him losing the championship in his rookie season.

Shanghai pit error cost Hamilton 2007 title
“What I’m learning as I get older is most often my gut feeling is right,” said Hamilton. “Most often, like intuition, the first thought that I have is usually the right one, choice-wise, and so I’m learning not to question myself.

“Back in 2007, I was a rookie, I was massively skilled but didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the experience to be able to lead the team, to tell them what was needed. If I knew what I knew now, I’d say ‘guys, I have to come in, I’m coming in’. I didn’t know at the time I could tell my team that that was the case, I was still learning what I could and could not do.”

Over the final laps on Sunday Hamilton asked the team what state his rear tyres were in. “I started getting vibrations in my tyres so I was constantly looking at my tyres, looking out for that bald tyre that I had in 2007. But I couldn’t see, again, in my mirrors. Just like in 2007 I couldn’t see the tread and whether or not it had gone through to that level. So that’s why I was asking the team.

“I was having to save the tyres through the high speed [corners]. Trying to not kill them but keeping temperature up was really key. So that’s brake balance, that’s how you use them on the exit of the corners. It’s the lines that you have to navigate to take – there was a lot of wet patches still out there. And as soon as you touch that, you’re off.”

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2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on ““They should be bald”: Hamilton’s tyre condition didn’t concern Mercedes”

  1. These are the little snippets of information that makes a fan like me relish reading about what goes on in the sport. It is so wonderfully complex and that makes it fun!

  2. Hamilton – First driver ever to change compound of tyres without making a pit stop. LOL

    1. I recall Michael Schumacher pretty much wearing his intermediates down to slicks at Hungary in 2006, @krichelle. Not that it did him many favours – he was passed by Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld, colliding with the latter and putting him out of the race.

      1. Iskandar Mazlan
        17th November 2020, 12:00

        Another plus point for Lewis the GOAT vs Michael!!

      2. It’s hardly something new, as Schumacher did it at the China GP in 2006 as well and won the race because of it. The same thing was happening at Great Brittain in 2008 with Raikkonen vs Hamilton, but it started raining again, so Raikkonen was screwed.

    2. @krichelle Not strictly true, as red flags don’t count as pitstops.

    3. There is a unique champion:he wins races for you with 3 Wheels.He wins races for you with slicks tyres on a rainy day .he comes into a WINNINGLESS team (Mercedes 2013)and make them become not only winners but unbeatable…the list of superlatives goes on and on. Haters ,what else do you want?

  3. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    17th November 2020, 10:02

    Are a set of inters even supposed to last that long? I don’t know if we’ve been so used to Pirelli producing cheese tires that having durable tires seems like a distant memory, but I did find it quite disbelieving that those who pitted for a fresh set on inters weren’t lapping faster than those who stayed out (as is the case with slicks), and there was no drop off in pace towards the end for Lewis or Sergio.

  4. “Back in 2007, I was a rookie, I was massively skilled” This type of shameless bragging is seriously grating and makes it difficult to like the person, especially when it’s constant.

    1. Oh bless, do you find it hard do you. Oh well he should address how he talks then. A rookie almost won the WDC and he shouldn’t say hes massively skilled. He is. Its a pity you are so fragile you get so upset by this comment. Sportsmen do tend to have a high opinion of themselves. Its a necessary requirement. Just like losers have to show envy through dislike.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      17th November 2020, 11:00

      @balue Max, do you believe you are the best driver on the grid? “Yes” Jenson, “on my day yes” Alonso “The absolute best” etc. etc. These are drivers at the very top of their sport. Do you think any aren’t “massively skilled”? Why do you think they shouldn’t say it?
      From 2005 to 2007 Lewis had just won GP3 with 15 out of 20 race wins, GP2 the first season and lost the F1 WDC by one point. It’s not bragging. It’s a statement of fact. Get over it.

      1. @davewillisporter Pretendig you don’t know the difference between being asked and volunteering information about your talent does you know favors.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            17th November 2020, 11:50

            @balue He was answering a question in an interview and referred to calling the pit strategy himself. He didn’t randomly blurt it out. He was putting context on how as a rookie he was leading a race and leading the WDC but didn’t know how to tell his team what he wanted. Paraphrasing (in the context of being in the lead of a race and leading the WDC as a rookie) I had massive (driving) skill but no team or leadership skill back then. That’s not arrogance or bragging. Nuance. Look the word up.

          2. @davewillisporter No, you’re just grasping. It was completely unnecessary and irrelevant, just meant as a brag. He can’t help himself.

            But this is not a one off. It is really just another example. He’s done this from when he started from everything like how good he was with remote controlled cars as a kid, to music, and even taking credit for DAS by helping crack those ‘close minded engineers’ (very demeaning) at his team.

            Bragging. Look it up. Do humblebragging while you’re at it.

          3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            17th November 2020, 16:22

            @balue explaining what actually happened isn’t grasping. You have some weird takes. Read any F1 driver’s book they all do this. As I said, they’re just stating facts. Get over it.

          4. He has every right to brag, a seven time F1 champion. If he doesn’t, who does!!

      2. Lewis owes it to McLaren for not being Champion on his rookie year.

        Why did the team leave him out on tires worn to the thread while leading the pack in China’s GP?

        Was it to assuage Alonso?

        Even if they had pulled it him on time, and this were to cost him some points because he would have lost the lead,
        he would still have garnered some points and would not miss the championship by one point.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          18th November 2020, 20:08

          Nothing to do with Alonso. By that stage Alonso was the enemy after trying to blackmail Ron. They were worried that there would be more rain and kept him out to see if they could last until the rain fell and then pit for inters. I 100% agree with you that McLaren cost Lewis that championship but they gave him a race seat so have to be grateful for that.

    3. The split second I read that I knew some tragic case would have to comment on it.
      Why is it hard for people like you hear a skilled person saying that they are skilled? I’ll tell you why, deep down you know you are a failure in your own life, and people like Lewis expose that.
      Sort your own life out instead of begrudging those who have.

    4. Lol @ the predictable personal attacks from Hamilton fans

      1. @balue Yup, the Hammy defense force cannot stand the fact the we don’t idolize him.

        1. Oh contraire my dear. We “Hammy” fans love your comments. They really cheer us up on a dreary, lockdown, monday morning. Lewis keeps winning and you all keep whining. The gift that just keeps on giving 🤣 Beautiful.

        2. Not me. I love coming on here after another Ham win to feel your pain. Used to be so boring back in the day as the usual ‘well thats just your opinion but the statistics don’t lie’ line was repeated ad nauseam. Much more interesting now now that you can’t trot that one out anymore and have to get more inventive with your retorts. We look forward to your opinions no matter how ill-informed they are, or how often you edit down a freely available Ham interview that we have all seen into something completely different so that it aligns your own prejudices. So knock yourself out sunshine.
          Although up to now you have all been strangely quiet since the weekend. Something happened to put you boys out of sorts?

          1. Hey, I forgot to reply back to you a couple weeks ago where you sent some links for Peter Windsors YouTube channel. I think we had briefly discussed driving style and the intricacies involved. Just wanted to say thank you! :)

        3. So it’s all about me now Ian? Bless..

          Obsessing much?

    5. hehehe,OOOps, your slip is showing,darling :-)

    6. Started his rookie season with 9 consecutive podium finishes (and that was only broken because of circumstances out of his control). Yes he is massively skilled. Every driver talks themselves up, but you have a problem with Hamilton doing so, hmmm, I wonder why. Get over your bias.

      1. @megatron And there’s the inevitable racist insinuation. Didn’t take long.

    7. Come on Balue don’t take it so personal. 🤣

    8. @balue when you include the rest of the paragraph where he admits his shortcomings then it’s not really shameless. Not many drivers will admit their shortcomings publicly. Plus, this is retrospective looking at oneself 13 years later. Shameless would be Giovinazzi today saying he’s massively skilled compared to Lewis. Lewis saying he’s skilled is not bragging, it’s actually a fact and modest as the other F1 drivers have been comparing their skills to Lewis since he got in the car. Lewis has been kind of alone in the skill department despite being supportive of all drivers.

      1. Great point @freelittlebirds
        This @balue

        I think you’ve read it out of context to be able to take offence to it. It was Ham reflecting on what he was good at vs his shortcomings, to highlight what he’s learned

    9. Hehehe love it! You are the gift that keeps giving Balue. Please dont change 🤣

    10. World class sportsmen + athletes are constantly trying to improve – to do this they need to assess themselves accurately. F1 drivers are (to a good first approximation) the best 20 drivers in the world. An accurate assessment of their skill level would be “massively” or “highly” skilled. That applies to all of them. Especially to Lewis, as he was at that time in contention for the title in his first season.
      Lewis was pointing out his weaknesses in team leadership, his lack of nous due to inexperience – in short where he saw himself lacking. But that was in the next few sentences, and you’d have to have read a bit further.
      If any of the drivers didn’t believe in their own fitness to be there, they wouldn’t be there. In fact there are many more drivers who believe they should be there. But all of the successful ones seem to me to have confidence, be self critical, and always trying to be better.
      And LH is now statistically the most successful driver ever. More than I will ever achieve. As Toto said “I couldn’t have done it better”.

    11. OMG lol. Here’s a little violin and small box to put it in.

    12. I get it, I think its the way he words things. But lets be honest, pretty good debut season! Maybe the best we have seen. Just appreciate a great driver and not who they are outside of the car. We’re all different.

    13. A ROOKIE,That got 9 CONSECUTIVE PODIUMS yes 9 successive podium and victories in his very first year in F1 with a 2 times world champion named Fernado Alonso as a team mate and looses by 1 single point the championship to an ace of the caliber of kimi Raikonen is ,indeed a brager.
      For your information:NONE of the past or PRESENT F1 racers will ever match Lewis Hamilton performance:
      Vettel,Leclerc,Verstapen will never get 9 CONSECUTIVE podiums in their rookie year or all the others for that matter,they will not have a 2 time world champion as team mate and beat them either etc etc .
      Tey will not …… ahhhh!
      Do you know at least what a rookie is?

    14. These comments again reveal the true level of Hamilton fans. He’s always perfect in every way and can never do anything wrong, and they’ll attack anyone who says otherwise. It actually reflects on the man itself how he constantly attracts these immature types.

      No other driver or sportsman would volunteer how they have ‘massive skills’ and everyone knows it. Be an adult and be honest about it. Yes, Hamilton is full of himself and it’s not pleasant to watch, and entirely fair to point this out especially at this record breaking time when the guy is summed up.

  5. It actually makes me wonder whether or not someone should have taken the option to put a set of slicks on. If bald inters were quick how fast would a set of brand new softs been?

    Surely someone, probably Renault considering they were at the back of the midfield, should have at least thrown that dice.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      17th November 2020, 11:07

      The problem was tyre warm up on this unusually smooth surface. A set of slicks up to temp would be much faster but getting them there would be very tricky and during the warm up period the risk of sliding onto the wetter parts of the track which on cold slicks would be an immediate off was too great. The 2000’s Bridgestone inters used to wear to slicks and were the perfect tyre for changeable conditions. I think this is the first race anyone discovered that the Pirelli inters can do the same. That said, on a more abrasive surface they would have been shredded, but again on a more abrasive surface the switch to slicks would have been easier so all teams would have done it. It’s a very track specific situation we saw in Turkey.

      1. Warming tyres is easy. Just build divergence or convergence in same axle tyres. if enough, tyres will grip and last.
        If too much, tyres will hold soon but grain quickly.. If not enough car will go off track before tyres acquire traction

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          18th November 2020, 20:11

          Your second sentence proves your first sentence wrong. Warming tyres is not easy. Turkey 2020 is an example of why.

  6. @dbradock What good would it do when there was zero chance of overtaking.

    It would have to be done before the stops in order to continue when people were stopping and pass them this way, but then it was still too wet.

  7. “we’ve never, ever done nearly 300 kilometres on one set of intermediate tyres”.
    Now that is one fascinating comment from the Merc team….and simply emphasises Lewis’s skills.

    1. Don’t forget the fact that the circuit was probably the LEAST ABRASIVE asphalt ever to grace an F1 GP.

  8. Iskandar Mazlan
    17th November 2020, 12:07

    Actually I notice Lewis manage to avoid the wet patches at turn 2 where Albon n Max slid earlier .. despite the speed. He is right, as soon as you touch it, you are off. It happened to Lewis n Bottas in Germany 2019, the wet patch near pitlane entry.

  9. The merc tyres looked like reversed train wheels, no car looled like that, their wear pattern was completely different, even 25 laps from the end.

  10. Warming tyres is easy. Just build divergence or convergence in same axle tyres. if enough, tyres will grip and last.
    If too much, tyres will hold soon but grain quickly.. If not enough car will go off track before tyres acquire traction

  11. Love the picture , how much negative camber is that?

  12. Don’t forget that Hamilton had the luxury of DAS

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