Formula 1 Racing

Hamilton has never known F1 tyres to have such a “minuscule” working range

Hamilton "never had so much understeer in my life" in F1 Chinese GP

The recent Miami Grand Prix proved to be extremely tricky for drivers to find the sweet spot with their rubber, as a combination of temperatures, track surface and layout created a perfect storm of difficulty.

For Hamilton, things have also not been helped with his Mercedes car being especially sensitive to tyre temperatures where it can easily fall in and out of the perfect operating range.

Reflecting on how things are at the moment, the seven-time world champion thinks that the characteristics of Pirelli’s current 18-inch tyres are something he has never experienced before.

“I think we’re just working in a really, like, minuscule window of tyre temps,” he said. “I think it’s this tyre. Definitely, in all my career, I don’t remember ever having such a small window of working.”

With the penalty of being out of the right window quite extreme, as tiny time loss in F1 these days can mean a large number of positions, Hamilton said it was not an easy situation to deal with.

“Honestly, it’s probably the most frustrating thing,” he added. “You look back in the day where you had a much bigger working window to work with. Then you can just optimise the balance and then just have good grip throughout the whole lap. This is definitely my least favourite.”

Hamilton is not the only driver to feel that tyre temperatures are dictating so much about overall performance at the moment.

WilliamsAlex Albon said Miami had highlighted a trend of tyre temperature obsession in F1 right now.

“[It’s] more about tyres than anything else,” he said. “It feels like China was a bit the same. 

“You drive a bit quicker – you go slower. So there’s a lot of almost race management going on in your qualifying laps trying to keep your tyres alive.

“The track’s too hot for these tyres. And with all the pressure limits and everything going up, each year, the tyres are struggling. “

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said in Miami that rival Mercedes had to embark on an act of ‘desperation’ in qualifying as it tried medium tyres.

“I think everyone was trying to get something out of it and it just didn’t work out, because the tyre characteristics here were simply incalculable,” he said.

“Teams tried it with more or less air pressure and slight changes, and warm-up phases were different. Mercedes even changed to medium, I think that was an act of desperation. That shows that nobody had it under…

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