Lewis Hamilton says he backed off to around half-throttle in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix to ensure he did not suffer the kind of tyre problems that hit Ferrari.
Both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were struck by tyre problems in the closing stages of the race – with Vettel dropping to seventh place after needing to stop for replacement rubber on the penultimate lap.
Hamilton had been mindful of the condition of his tyres on the closing stint – after a small blister appeared on his front right tyre – but says that when Ferrari hit trouble he went into full conservation mode.
“I had signs of blistering in the last race – I had a right-front blister in the last race,” said Hamilton when asked by Motorsport.com about how much he was managing his rubber. “The team said generally it wouldn’t be a problem but it did appear.
“Then I heard about the blow-ups and I backed off. I went basically to half or 60% throttle everywhere, so I was really slow the last two laps I think.
“I was basically three, four seconds off the pace. I just wanted to bring it home. I had a 19-second gap so fortunately I could have gone slower, but I didn’t feel I needed to.”
Tyres to Milan
Pirelli believes it may take a few days to work out exactly what caused the Ferrari failures, as its investigation at Silverstone on Sunday night has thrown up no obvious explanation as to what the cause of the problems was.
While it is sure that Raikkonen and Vettel’s problems were different – with only Vettel suffering a puncture – it does not yet have an answer for why Ferrari hit trouble.
The tyres that failed are being flown back to Pirelli’s Milan headquarters where detailed forensic work will take place to try to understand whether the issues were caused by wear, debris or another factor.
“I believe we need to send some of the tyres to Milan to make a better analysis but obviously we are pushing to have something in a few days,” said Pirelli F1 racing manager Mario Isola.
“We are investigating 360-degrees. I am not excluding anything. To be sure, we need to come to the right conclusion and we need to be with an open mind and consider everything.
“It is too easy to say it is wear [related] and close the investigation. This is not professional from our side. It is important we find the right answer. It could also be a puncture, we don’t know.”
Isola does not believe that Raikkonen’s failure was wear-related from running too long a stint, and is confident that neither issues were caused by structural problems.
“It is not a problem of fatigue – so it is not a problem of integrity,” he said.