“In all my career, I don’t remember having such a small window” — Hamilton says 2024 Pirelli F1 tyres hampering the drivers

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
Spread the love

Lewis Hamilton’s Miami Grand Prix weekend has been up and down so far, much like the W15 from session to session this season.

After exiting the Sprint qualifying session in the second part, the Sprint then saw him drop from P8 to P16 following a 20-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

It also saw him engaging in a heated battle with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas as the Danish driver picked up 4 penalties.

Qualifying for the race was also a struggle, but Mercedes managed to improve their speed with set-up changes between the Sprint and Grand Prix qualifying. Hamilton secured third position in Q2 with a very strong lap, but he ultimately qualified P8 behind his teammate George Russell as he lost over 0.4s in the final segment versus his Q2 time.

Speaking after the session, the British driver expressed his bewilderment at how the car suddenly came alive in Q2. He was only 0.164s slower than pacesetter Charles Leclerc.

“I thought the first two qualifying [segments] were generally better.

“Q2 was… the car felt mega in Q2 all of a sudden and then got to Q3 and it disappeared again. It’s the first time it’s really worked in Q2 this year I would say.”

Hamilton gave a regretful response when asked if he knew what had caused the loss of pace in Q3.

“We don’t know. We really, really don’t know and I couldn’t tell you, honestly.”

Throughout Friday and Saturday the drivers have been dealing with tyres overheating and a lack of grip because of them.

The seven-time World Champion did not hold back in his remarks about the current Pirelli tyres and just how much more of an operating window Bridgestone tyres gave in the past.

“Q2 was the best the car had felt, and then it just felt nowhere in Q3. We’re just working in a really minuscule window of tyre performance.”

“I think it’s this tyre. In all my career, I don’t remember having such a small window.

“This is the thing, you look at Q2, I’m a tenth and a half off, suddenly I’m like ‘what the hell, I’m not far off the Red Bull’.

“And I definitely think the car is peaky, we definitely have problems with the car, we do know the aero balance is not where we want it to be.

“But I think, massive chunk of it is just these tyres.

“You look back in the day where you had a much bigger working window to work with, so then you can just optimize the balance and then have good grip through the whole lap.

“I don’t know. It’s definitely… it’s definitely my least favourite.”

In their bid to understand the W15, Mercedes has been experimenting with drastic set-up changes between sessions, but the Miami Grand Prix has seen them not fiddle around with things too much.

The 39-year-old is happy with the balance. The W15 just fundamentally lacks speed.

“I think we maximized set-up, the car was good with great balance.

“I don’t know if we’re the same pace as the guys ahead, but we’ll wait and see. But we’re a little bit further up, hopefully we can try and attack and see what we get.”