Christian Horner believes Lewis Hamilton’s intermediate tyres looked “dangerous” towards the end of the Brit’s first stint in Turkey.
Due to changing his ICE, the Mercedes man was handed a 10-place grid penalty and thus started the Turkish Grand Prix in P11 after taking pole, behind both Red Bull drivers.
He was unable to get ahead of either of them in the race, but it did briefly look like he could beat Sergio Perez when he decided to try and reach the end on his first set of tyres rather than pitting as most did.
While he was keen to do so though, he ultimately obeyed his team and came in as per their command, although he strongly believed that it was the wrong call.
“[Esteban] Ocon’s did, I heard, so I assume they probably could,” he told Sky Sports when asked if he felt his tryes could have lasted.
“The tyres are bald so you don’t know how far they will go, so there’s definitely a little worry of the life of the tyres.
“But also, I wasn’t really that fast at the end there. I was struggling, had low grip, not really sure why, but then all of a sudden I’d have not such bad pace. But I was losing performance to the guys behind.
“I think probably in hindsight I should have stayed out or come in much earlier because when you come in with eight laps to go you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that medium (intermediate) tyre on a drying track, so then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions.”
💬 “Strategy calls in conditions like today can be so tough.
“You have to rely on your Team, accept the choices they make and hope it's the right one – as I always say, we win and we lose together.”
The speed was there, let’s keep pushing in Austin, LH. 👊 pic.twitter.com/1Y0cgBiPV8
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) October 10, 2021
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Toto Wolff disagreed with his driver, saying it was “clear” that he wouldn’t make it to the end without pitting, and his Red Bull counterpart agrees.
Horner says he was briefly worried, but not after seeing how bad the tyres looked.
“At one point you think he is going to get to the end and from what we could see, those tyres were looking dangerous so it was inevitable he was going to have to pit,” the Red Bull team principal told Sky Sports after the race.
“At the point that they pitted, that was to our maximum advantage because at that point you could see Charles [Leclerc] as well, the tyres overheated and blistered quite badly and then the pace was lost.
“For us, the crucial moment was for when to pit Checo. We could have left him out to keep holding Lewis, [but] we decided to pit him to make sure we had track position because we didn’t believe that those tyres would make it to the end of the race.”
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