Demonstrating just how dominant Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG F1 team are right now, the British driver still managed to win the British Grand Prix last weekend despite crossing the line on only three intact tyres. He had a lead of more than 30 seconds over second-placed Max Verstappen (admittedly helped by the Red Bull driver’s decision to pit for fresh rubber and go for the race’s fastest lap), which quickly fell to just six after the W11 received a last-lap puncture.
For Hamilton, it was a careful balance between keeping the pace up enough to stop Verstappen catching up, and keeping a 1000bhp car with only three functioning wheels on the track. From our TV screens it may have looked painfully slow compared to the normal pace of a modern F1 car, but make no mistake - that Mercedes was still being pushed. Hard.
Since the race’s dramatic conclusion, Mercedes has revealed that Hamilton still managed to hit an astonishing 230khm (143mph) on the Hangar straight. He didn’t even seem to have any issues hitting all the apices, either. In the end, his lap took 1min 55sec to complete - slow for F1, but still several seconds faster than the quickest time a GT3 car managed at Silverstone during qualifying for last year’s Blancpain GT Series.
Hamilton wasn’t the only driver to be hit with tyre issues late on - both his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr suffered punctures during the closing stages of the race.
This won’t change Pirelli’s approach for next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, which will also be held at Silverstone. It pinned the blame for the failures on the long second stints most teams opted for after pitting during the second safety car period, which put an incredible strain on the tyres.
It’ll still be bringing tyres that are one compound softer than those used last weekend since this will avert any similar issues - teams will be forced into using two-stop strategies. This should also mean a more interesting race - aside from that last-minute drama, the British GP wasn’t exactly a thriller.