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Hamilton hits out at Pirelli

NEWS STORY
28/11/2020

Lewis Hamilton launches an astonishing attack on Italian tyre manufacturer, accusing it of continually failing to get it right.

With the teams having rejected the tyre originally intended for 2020, which were in themselves a stop-gap before the introduction of 18-inch wheels in 2021, Pirelli opted to stick with its 2019 compounds.

However, the pandemic caused the sport to delay the introduction of the 18-inch wheels until 2022, consequently Pirelli opted to tweak its current compounds.

Having been given two sets of the new tyres to use over the course of Friday's two sessions, the response from the drivers was unfavourable, most complaining that they were just about good enough for one lap.

However, nobody expected the outburst from Hamilton, who let Pirelli have both barrels.

Asked his reaction to the tyres, the world champion initially stifled a laugh and then went silent for a few moments, before finally replying.

"I'm trying my hardest not to say anything," he admitted. "What I want to say is weekend in, weekend out, every year we've got a team here from Pirelli. I have the utmost respect for the guys that come here and load our tyres up, bring them here, and keep us safe. And they do an amazing job.

"We've had the same tyre for the last two years," he continued. "At the end of 2019 they brought a new tyre, which they normally do, and it was quite a bit worse. So then they just said, 'Okay, well now we just keep the tyre that we had from last year'.

"So they've had two years now to develop a better tyre... and we've arrived with a tyre that's three kilos heavier, and it's like a second worse per lap.

"I know for the fans that doesn't really make any difference," he continued, "but from a driver point of view, we're working with brands and partners who are at the forefront of technology, and elevating and moving forwards. And if you're going back after two years of development, I mean, I don't know what's happening.

"It definitely doesn't feel good out there," he admitted, "and it's a worry. I prefer to just stay on these tyres. If that's all they've got, and that's the best they can do, which it clearly is, we'd be better just to stay with this tyre."

"Obviously they've made changes, I think to the constructions," added teammate, Valtteri Bottas, "they seem quite a bit heavier, so that should improve on the reliability side, which is an important matter. But when it comes down to performance, there's not a huge difference.

"I think, honestly, from what we saw today on the track, the new tyres are a slightly slower in terms of pure lap performance."

"They were not a step forward," said Sebastian Vettel. "The opposite pretty much.

"It was probably worth a shot, but I hope we don't see these tyres again. They are quite a lot worse compared to the tyres that we currently run."

Asked if he would prefer to keep the current tyres for a third season, the German was in no doubt.

"If that one is the only option for '21, then absolutely, I would love to stick with the '19 tyres," he admitted. "I think as long as we don't have a tyre that gives us anything that the current one doesn't give, such as less overheating, or a better chance to fight each other, we shouldn't get onto a different tyre.

"This one is worse for sure, and it will make all the problems that we struggle with already only worse."

"It's difficult to know what compounds we were running," said Max Verstappen, "but we were a bit over the place to be honest in terms of grip and balance so we will look into that and speak to Pirelli about it."

"They're OK, though they were a little slow," added Daniel Ricciardo. "But to be honest I'm not completely sure at the moment what we're trying to get from them.

"I know I think structurally they're trying to make it a bit safer I guess, with what happened in Silverstone perhaps. But yeah, the front tyre felt a bit weaker so there is a bit less grip."

"I flew to Paris to be a representative of the GPDA, and sat with the FIA, all the teams, and Pirelli," said Hamilton. "The previous target letter, we weren't involved in that, and they haven't listened to a single word we've said in previous years," he added, referring to the letter the drivers send each season telling Pirelli what they are looking for in terms of performance.

"So going there we delivered what we wanted, and lots of emails have gone back and forth to help them, and it's still no better. So I wouldn't say that we can do any more.

"Ultimately it's technology. I don't know if we are at the limit of technology or it's just their limit."

The Briton is further concerned that the 2022 switch to 18-inch wheels will further exacerbate the issues.

"I think when we go to the bigger rim, I've heard we lose grip when we go to that tyre," he said. "So I think what we actually really need in F1 is slightly less downforce and more mechanical grip, and a lot of that comes from the tyres so that we can follow closer.

"But it doesn't seem that we're going in that direction. Naturally I think in sport we don't want to go backwards. So I think there's much more to do."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Lakota, 28/11/2020 15:00

"With zero competition, what do you expect? Need another tire manufacturer to push each other. "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Wokingchap, 28/11/2020 10:49

"Endless problems with pirelli tyres, just endless."

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