F1 2013: Hamilton’s Mercedes tyre troubles in Spanish Grand Prix
PUBLISHED: 21:28 12 May 2013 | UPDATED: 21:33 12 May 2013
LEWIS Hamilton’s pre-race fears about tyre wear were realised in the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix as the Mercedes Formula 1 driver “went backwards” after starting from the front row.
Despite qualifying second at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, the 28-year-old F1 star from Hertfordshire failed to finish in the points in Barcelona.
A frustrated Hamilton crossed the line 12th as Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag for Ferrari in front of his home fans. Lewis was forced to convert to a four-stop strategy during the race and during his five race stints used option/prime/prime/option/prime tyres.
Sunday’s result in Spain reinforced the feeling in the F1 paddock that the current Mercedes car, although super fast in qualifying, is still well off the pace in race conditions.
Speaking after the opening European grand prix of the 2013 season, Hamilton said: “A difficult afternoon today and going backwards is never fun.
2013 Spanish Grand Prix
Provisional Spanish Grand Prix result
1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
3 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
6 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
7 Paul di Resta (Force India)
8 Jenson Button (McLaren)
9 Sergio Perez (McLaren)
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
11 Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber)
12 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
“We switched to a four-stop strategy during the race but I suffered with a lack of grip and balance throughout and we were never really able to get the tyres working.
“I know that everyone at the team is working so hard and we need to keep positive. I’m sure we will figure the problem out and we’ve got to keep pushing together to close the gap. I will be doing my best to help and encourage the guys.”
Also struggling for race pace, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg salvaged a sixth-place finish after starting from pole position, running an option/prime/prime/prime three-stop strategy.
Rosberg: “I had a very tough race this afternoon. The start was good and I managed my first stint well to keep some of the quicker cars behind me.
“From there, I had to drive my own race and we began to go backwards as it made no sense to destroy my tyres by trying to stay ahead.
“We didn’t have the pace of the quickest cars today and there’s a growing gap to three teams ahead of us which we need to get on top of. We have a very quick car but we have to make it work for us in the race.”
Team principal Ross Brawn admitted it wasn’t a great afternoon for Mercedes AMG Petronas after completing a front-row lockout in qualifying.
Brawn said: “We endured a very difficult afternoon and the comparison between our competitiveness in qualifying and in the race was particularly disappointing.
“Nico did an excellent job managing the tyres to make just three stops and his level of performance showed what our car is currently capable of on tracks like this.
“Lewis didn’t have a good balance at any point and that simply made a critical situation worse, which forced him to convert to a four-stop strategy midway through the race.
“We must find the key to why we are losing performance on Sunday afternoon and find the right solutions to improve.”
Director Toto Wolff admitted tyre wear on race days is costing the team, and Hamilton, valuable points. He said: “Today’s race showed a similar pattern to what we have seen with our team in recent seasons: we have a quick car but it works the tyres too hard.
“The drivers experienced the reverse situation to what happened in Bahrain: Nico drove a very controlled race and was able to make a three-stop strategy work, while Lewis was forced to stop four times because he simply didn’t have enough grip at any point through the race and the car was sliding around.
“It is very clear that we have not yet found the right compromise between our performance on Saturday and Sunday and that we will need a lot of hard work to get it right.”
The F1 circus heads to Monte Carlo in a fortnight’s time for the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix – the jewel in the sport’s crown.
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