Plaudits for Hamilton after holding on to win at Silverstone despite a puncture striking his Mercedes on the final lap; Pirelli currently investigating cause of race’s late three tyre deflations
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 03/08/20 6:56pm
Mercedes have revealed the astonishing speed Lewis Hamilton maintained while grappling with a punctured tyre on the dramatic final lap of his British GP victory.
The world champions said Hamilton still clocked a mighty 230 km/h – 143mph – down Silverstone’s long Hangar Straight despite the left-front tyre being punctured.
Mercedes posted on Twitter:
With all four tyres working, F1 cars normally clock around 300 km/h (186mph) on the flat-out run to Stowe corner.
Hamilton said he had to balance taking the neccessary level of risk to get to the chequered flag ahead of a fast-closing Max Verstappen “without losing the car altogether”.
Pirelli, F1’s tyre suppliers, have launched an investigation into the cause of the three punctures late in the race after Hamilton’s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz suffered the same fates.
It is understood the Italian firm are looking at wear issues at the end of long stints on the hard compound and the possibility of track debris also playing a role after several incidents during the race.
F1 holds a second race at Silverstone this weekend – the sport’s 70th Anniversary GP – and the current plan is for Pirelli to make available softer-compound tyres than last week.
F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn, Hamilton’s first team boss at Mercedes, on Monday described the Englishman’s driving on the final lap as “mind blowing”.
“No front left tyre on the car and he still took Copse and Stowe corners at more than 130km/h,” wrote Brawn in his post-race column. “He reached 230km/h on the straight with only three wheels, and a front left tyre flailing around – absolutely mind blowing.
“He judged it to perfection to win the race by a few seconds and a brilliant example of the amazing talents and bravery of Lewis.”
“I’m amazed you can actually drive that quick on a damaged tyre.”
Sky Sports F1’s Jenson Button – 2009 world champion
Hamilton explains how he navigated dramatic final lap
With his front tyre letting go just after he exited the Wellington Straight near the start of his final lap, Hamilton had to navigate Silverstone’s final 13 corners to take the chequered flag – including its fastest and most famous sequence of turns.
Recounting the final lap to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton explained: “I nearly didn’t make it through the next two corners – particularly Turn Seven – and, rather than panicking, I was ‘okay, how do I get this thing home?’
“I only have half a lap or whatever it is to get back. How can to get back? Am I going to lose this race? All these questions starting going and you’re like ‘no, keep going, keep up the power and keep up the speed’.
“As I tried to accelerate, the tyre starts to deflate more and I think I’m going to lose the wing and maybe the wing will go under the car. You have all the different scenarios that face you – and the thing doesn’t want to turn right obviously because of the busted tyre!”
“I made some switch changes to lock all the diff[erential] and just tried my hardest to get round without losing too much time.”
The ailing Mercedes was chased down all the way by Verstappen and Hamilton added: “I could hear him catching me. He’s 30 seconds, he’s 20 seconds, 19, 15, 10, seven and I’m thinking ‘jeez, this is one of the most horrible feelings’ hearing someone catch you like that and get overtaken just before the line or something.
“But, thankfully, with everyone’s support we managed to bring it home.”
Hamilton added: “The thing is, I don’t know why I managed to be cool during the period. But I had no choice – survival instincts come over you. That’s really what I was thinking – ‘I’ve come all this way, I’m not going to pull over and back off completely and let everyone drive past’.
“How can I still get there with taking as much risks as possible without losing the car altogether?”