Formula One: Hamilton facing tyre dilemma

IN THE DOLDRUMS: "We don't want to be in this position. One more race like this (Monaco) and we will be much further behind." - LEWIS HAMILTON (above), Mercedes driver, on Ferrari's ascendancy this year.
IN THE DOLDRUMS: "We don't want to be in this position. One more race like this (Monaco) and we will be much further behind." - LEWIS HAMILTON (above), Mercedes driver, on Ferrari's ascendancy this year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Briton to ascertain why his car is lacking grip, even though Bottas is not as severely affected

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton has said that he is determined to solve the problems that have stymied his bid for a fourth Formula One world championship after a difficult weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The British driver, who finished in seventh place in Monte Carlo last weekend, will go to the Mercedes factory at Brackley, England, to address the performance weaknesses that have cost him vital points in his battle with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who won on Sunday.

Hamilton started from 13th on the grid and with overtaking always a difficult proposition at Monaco, his task was damage limitation and he said he was happy with the result. However, he now trails Vettel by 25 points in the title race and it is clear that he cannot afford to be bogged down by similar problems again.

"I'll be pushing and the guys will be pushing to fully understand because we don't want to be in this position," Hamilton said. "One more race like this and we will be much further behind."

What is of concern for Hamilton and Mercedes is that he has experienced similar problems twice this season, although on each occasion his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was not affected as badly.

In Sochi on April 30, Hamilton also struggled for grip, finishing fourth while Bottas started from third on the grid and won the race.

Bottas, too, struggled with finding the optimum operating window of temperature for his tyres in Monte Carlo but this did not affect his weekend as severely as Hamilton, with the Finn qualifying in third and finishing fourth.

"That's really what I have got to try to understand this week," Hamilton said. "There's so many things we have got to look into to try to understand why one car could make it work and the other couldn't. I will definitely look into it."

The problem is a pressing one, not least because the Sochi and Monaco circuits share characteristics with the next round in Canada on June 11.

Montreal is also a low-abrasion, low-grip surface with short-duration corners and is also utilising the same tyre selection - including the ultrasofts that are the most problematic for Hamilton.

"As we get on top of that ultrasoft then it puts us in a much better position to attack," Hamilton said. "Montreal has been a great hunting ground for me in the past and I plan for it to continue. We are going to work very, very hard to make sure the car is in a place (to ensure) we are ahead of those Ferraris."

Mercedes trail Ferrari in the constructors' championship by 17 points and the team's director of motorsport, Toto Wolff, said: "Our target is that (Monaco was our) worst race of the season."

"It is about bringing the tyres into the right window; we have a fast car but she doesn't like the tyres and that is something we need to understand."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton's tyre dilemma'. Print Edition | Subscribe