Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2022

Hamilton: Different tyre compound at start could have helped me beat Verstappen

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton believes he may have been able to fight Max Verstappen for victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix had he started on soft tyres rather than mediums.

From seventh on the grid, Hamilton made his way past Carlos Sainz Jnr and team mate George Russell in the closing laps of the race to take second at the finish behind Verstappen.

It marked the second successive race where Hamilton and Russell had shared the bottom two places on the podium. Hamilton described the result as “hugely satisfying” for Mercedes, who are now just 30 points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

“It’s a great feeling for us given the year we’ve had and to obviously see the progress that we’ve started to make last week,” said Hamilton.

“Just getting the second place last week was huge for us already and this is already now two races in a row that George and I have shared a podium, which is fantastic for the team points-wise. To both finish ahead of the Ferraris is huge for us given the pace that they’ve had. I think, given the troubles we’ve had through the weekend, that shows that we’ve got a really great pace.”

Hamilton ran back-to-back stints on the medium tyre at the start of the race, running a longer second stint than any of his rivals to rejoin with 19 laps remaining on the soft tyre and passing Sainz and Russell to finish eight seconds away from Verstappen at the chequered flag.

He credited his extended middle stint as being crucial to his result. However he fell behind Verstappen at the end of the first stint, his rival having started the race on soft tyres.

“I think the race was lost probably with the first stint with that medium tyre,” he said. “But the second and third part of the race was pretty epic.”

Asked what may have been possible had he started on the soft compound rather than the mediums, Hamilton said he would “definitely have been closer to Max, I would have thought.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to go the same distance on those tyres and who knows,” he continued.

Hamilton’s started position was compromised by a DRS failure during qualifying, which left him seventh on the grid. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suspects this cost him a chance to beat Verstappen.

“If we had started where I think we probably should have started, without the problem yesterday, I think then we would have been in a much better place to race Max today,” Hamilton agreed.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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42 comments on “Hamilton: Different tyre compound at start could have helped me beat Verstappen”

  1. Geting rid of softs early was the best call.

    Given how Russell was no match for Max on the final stint with equal tyres, i dont think Mercedes is there yet.

  2. Is this a hint that he gets preferential strategy over Russell ? It’s all ifs and buts for everyone though, the world doesn’t centre around Lewis and his car. He certainly gets the role of the dice though.
    If Alonso had a better start routine and tire strategy you might have got stuck behind him like you did Mick Schumacher a couple of races ago.
    There’s clearly nothing wrong with the Mercedes power unit. With the best reliability and better strategy than Ferrari, Merc are now a top two team.

  3. Give it up Ham, George is your new leader now!

    1. Russell is having a great first season at Merc, and adapted to the poor car better than Lewis at the start of the season. But today we saw a car on pole lose fair and square to his team mate who started 7th, with no mitigating circumstances for George.

      I think he’ll mature into a fine team leader at Merc in the future, but today shows he’s not there yet.

      1. @simon999 – A lot of the early races were merely for investigation which Mercedes confirmed was done primarily by Hamilton. Although Russell did make the most of the package and kept it consistent for his finishes and took full advantage of situations on track, he is having an excellent season.

    2. The last five races tells a different story.

  4. Every time a big mouth, complaining and selfcentred comments. He should quit and Lerlerc has to run to Mercedes.

    1. Funny how Ham in a car 1 second slower to Leclerc has mode podiums than him and same number as Sainz

      1. George has just moved above Sainz in the championship and only dropped 2 points to Lewis who’s in a poor 6th.

        Leclerc’s overtake on Russell today and Hamilton at Silverstone, were in a different league to Hamilton struggling behind Mick Schumacher and Norris for 12 laps today. Hamilton wont podium again if Ferrari fix their problems.

        1. How old are you, 12 or something? What a immature comment, prat.

          1. What’s immature in that comment? Strange.

        2. George has just moved above Sainz in the championship and only dropped 2 points to Lewis

          Maths isn’t your strong point, is it? Hamilton scored 19 pts, to Russell’s 15 and has now finished ahead of Russell in the last five races.

        3. Hamiltons wheel to wheel is not his strong point and is clearly behind on Charles (&Max) level. Just like Vettel from the same generation in which races were always won from the front row.

          1. ? Not sure if I agree with that. I’ll admit Max and to a degree Leclerc have stretched the rules from a legality stand point, that doesn’t mean they are better.

      2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        1st August 2022, 2:15

        Mercedes is not 1 second slower than Ferrari or Red Bull, they never were this season.

        Mercedes took pole on merit in Hungary they are much much closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than the British media wants you to believe.

        1. The revisionism has already started, shifted into full gear!
          I can only speculate what you and others like you are going to say when the Mercs start winning; would it be something like “oh, they’ve been the quickest car all year but were sandbagging to give a fall sense of competition at the front”, yes?! Unbelievable

        2. @jelle-van-der-meer – come on… Merc car has been horrific on pace this season, prior to Barcelona they have been way off the pace and street circuits have been really bad. Wouldn’t say they are 1 second bad of the last few races but they are slowly getting back. Plus the car is definitely the hardest to setup, almost to the degree of a lottery in terms of success.

    2. How old are you John????

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        1st August 2022, 2:20

        How old are you Mat?
        Why question someone’s age if you seemingly disagree with someone’s opinion.

        John’s comment is spot on – Hamilton has a big mouth, is very much self centered and complaining too much including throwing everyone including his own team under the bus if things don’t go well.

        Hamilton certainly can learn self reflection from Leclerc and humility and working spirit from Russell who had to deal with same issues as Hamilton but instead of bitching and moaning just got on with it and so far this season did a better job.

        1. Only one driver cried on the radio and threw his team under the bus this weekend with expletives no less. What a despicable poster you are.

          1. @slowmo Just ignore people like this. They spread nonsensical hatred comments about a team/driver they dislike so can never be impartial. At the end of the day Verstappen and Red Bull are the best driver/team combo at the moment. Although Mercedes and both there drivers are driving near faultless at the minute to pick up points when others do make mistakes.

        2. LOL!! Great WUMming. You deserve an Oscar.

          Hamilton couldn’t have shown more humility after qualifying, given yet another bit of bad luck, if he’d been the great late Mother Teresa.

          I’m afraid you’re another who’s a bit hacked off that Lewis has his mojo back and might hang around as long as Fernando is doing!!

          Meanwhile, the rest of us will enjoy the races – we just need Max to stop been a genius and start to drive like Perez and we really will have some close closing races. LOL!!

    3. Uh Oh, looks like Facebook is leaking again…

  5. Hamilton in my opinion didin’t drive long enough on the Mediums to capitalise on the full benifits of starting on mediums. He choose instead to cover the others who pitted only 3 laps before he did. That really wasnt that much of an advantage to take on the Ferraris who would have been stronger had they not chosen the wrong tires. I think Hamilton second stint on the Mediums shows how well that set of tires would have held up.

    If Hamilton had started on softs he would have ended up like Russell, struggling with a one stop strategy. In fact there’s every reason to believe the Ferraris would have altererd their tire choices based on a mercedes alternative strategy.

    1. Hamilton lost time behind Norris, roughly 6 or so seconds to the leaders. He may not have won but definitely much closer he would be at the end. Mercedes are bad gamblers anyway so who knows.

      1. Completely agree, he was behind Norris for too long, think he would’ve been in contention for a win if he passed him earlier.

    2. What makes you think Russell one-stopped?

      Russell pitted twice – he ran Soft (16), Medium (23), Medium (31). Almost identical strategy to Verstappen (except Russell stopped one lap later on the first set of mediums).

      1. That is enough to wonder why Lewis thought he could beat Max as Russell did that was passed by Max?

        1. Because tire tire degradation was different between the 2 Mercedes, even Russell mentioned before the race, they might have compromised the setup too much in order to get faster 1 lap on his car

  6. The Mercedes is still a 3rd place team with their car even though it has improved. The only reason they are getting a sniff at second is because Sideshow Binotto is running things over at Ferrari.

    1. Ferrari might have faster hardware, but Mercedes are the better team and with the most reliable power unit. George just overtook Carlos in the championship.

  7. This is a misleading headline, it took a while for the car balance to come in for Lewis and for those of us who follow the live timing you could see what was happening and it’s not about being on the wrong tyre,……The first stint was hard work, however in the second stint it came alive for Hamilton, and on the softs his pace was beyond what Sainz and Leclerc could do,

    The strategy was correct which Hamilton acknowledged…. IF Hamilton had not suffered the DRS issue in qualifying AND his Q3 lap put him ahead of Norris there was the possibility of challenging Max, but the Red Bull and Max looked unassailable today.

    1. But if if if….Max had a fresh engine in FP3 then had started on pole? Lewis has incredible good fortune to be where he is. If the weather had turned hot, Ferrari would’ve owned the podium.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        31st July 2022, 23:21

        hamilton will have very possibly got pole yesterday if he didn’t have his issue. No question top 4. Including his bad luck in qualifying, he on balance had more bad than good fortune this weekend. His recovery to 2nd was really impressive, and he was significantly better than Russell. And overall.

      2. Jordan: Dismisses other comment for using “if”.

        Also Jordan: If the weather had turned hot…

  8. Lots of ifs. First Hamilton did very well to clear the Alpines at the start. And did get past Norris as well. That was more than they could have reasonably expected in the first stint at this track. From there being on medium seemed very smart as it opened strategic options. It was Russell on the softs who was under race pressure and strategic pressure from the off.

    I don’t see a lot of universes where this turned out better for Hamilton, strategically. He drove the wheels off to come in 2nd but no way he could beat verstappen starting right ahead of him.

    But for him the summer break is most ill-timed as he probably has most momentum of any driver right now bar Verstappen.

  9. Hamilton completed 19 laps in the first stint with mediums, the same number of laps in the last stint with softs. What he realized is that this first stint could be soft too, that’s all. Is it hard to understand?

  10. He should thank to Russell in some way. Russel was battling with the Ferraris, stopping them somehow, and impending them to not get further away (Verstappen should also thank him). Hamilton also benefited by Redbull’s strategy, which affected his teammate race btw.

    Overall, is far more easier to benefit from external errors instead of being part of the fight. Anyway, chapeau to him. At least he was able to capitalize those errors unlike Perez.

  11. There are always a lot of “IF’s”. The result tells a story of how this is a team sport. Good Driver, Good Car, Good strategy = Good Result. remove any one of those and you get nowhere.

  12. This is a distinct character between very good drivers than the greats. Lewis willing to point out a better strategy in public even if the reasoning might be debatable. Other than the fact that he also affirm the team that his tyre are still okay during the race.

    Charles is just too nice. Ego and ruthlessness of a champion aren’t present.

    1. Well, you have folks like @jelle-van-der-meer who think Lewis should aspire to be as nice as Charles (he actually is in the ways that matter but that’s another story). He also claims Lewis is quick to throw his team under the bus. Yet the driver he supports unleashes all sorts of potty-mouthed tirades against his team whenever trouble strikes – every single time! Remember Q3 just the other day? And all the times he ranted about the team being unable to build something as simple as a functional DRS. Bias is such a weird thing.

  13. No bias in your post at all!

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