Lewis Hamilton described how he feared he would lose victory on the last lap of the British Grand Prix after suffering a puncture.Max Verstappen caught him rapidly as Hamilton dragged his Mercedes home following his left-front puncture.
Hamilton said he had been concerned the tyre might fail in a high-speed corner, after being warned his team mate Valtteri Bottas had suffered a puncture late in the race.
“As the minutes go by I feel worse and worse when I realised what happened,” said Hamilton. “I think in the heat of the moment you have the adrenaline going and I guess kind of that fight for survival instinct comes out and I was able to stay calm and really measured and try to bring the thing home.
“But of course, I was just thinking of the things that could have happened if the tyre gave up in a high speed corner or something like that, it would have been a much different picture. So I feel incredibly grateful that it didn’t and that we just managed.”
After his puncture, Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington gave him a countdown of how far away the closing Verstappen was.
“I heard that Max was just catching me at a crazy speed,” said Hamilton. “I got onto Hangar Straight and I could hear him, I think he was 19 seconds at that point.
“So I was trying to pick up the speed down that straight but the wheel was obviously making a real mess. And I was thinking, ‘geez, how am I going to get through these last few corners without losing too much time?’
“Fortunately I got around [Stowe] and then once I got to the last two corners, that was really when it was a disaster. And I could hear ‘seven, six, five’. And I just managed to keep it together.”
Hamilton said he had no warning his tyre was about to fail despite knowing the fate that had befallen his team mate.
“I was constantly looking at the tyre. It was quite smooth and was working really well through turn three so the thing was turning fine. I was trying to gauge just how worn it was, but I didn’t have any feeling where they’d been particularly really worn.
“Then just down the straight you could feel the sudden loss of RPM. At full speed the RPM drops as you start getting extra friction from the tyre as it’s not rolling at the same speed. And also you feel the balance shift to the left.
“So it was a bit of a panic and I nearly didn’t make it around turn seven but then after that I managed to make it through all the corners.”
Mercedes will investigate what led to the puncture, said Hamilton. “My team did a fantastic job through the weekend but I think we’ll have to look into why we had this tyre problem. I know that a few people did, maybe it was debris or maybe the tyre was just worn out.”
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Hamilton’s radio messages from the last 10 laps
|Hamilton||Did he make any mistakes? Or tyres keep backing off?|
|Bonnington||Just maintaining a small vibration nothing massive.|
|Bonnington||Same lap time as Valterri that lap|
|Hamilton||Yeah I have a vibration too|
|Bonnington||Gap at three seconds nine laps remaining|
|Bonnington||Gap to Valterri 3.4|
|Hamilton||Is he complaining about balance?|
|Bonnington||Valterri with a 29.7, gap 4.0. Gaining time in the low speed corners.|
|Hamilton||Who’s the fastest person on track?|
|Bonnington||So inside the top ten it’s Max with a 29.2. Albon has fastest lap. He is currently 28.7|
|Bonnington||Gap at 7.5 seconds|
|Bonnington||Three laps remaining|
|Hamilton||What strat can I use?|
|Bonnington||So other car has a puncture so look after the tyres as best you can. The strat mode would be strat mode 11. Please don’t go for the fastest lap. We just need to get the car home. Tyre integrity is everything .|
|Bonnington||So front left failure. Front left tyre failure for Valterri. There may be debris from that tyre around the circuit. So Max is the car behind at 15 seconds.|
|Bonnington||Verstappen has just stopped to take the fastest time. He will be going for fastest lap so don’t bother trying.|
|Bonnington||So one more lap Lewis just bring it home.|
|Hamilton||I think something happened to my front left tyre also.|
|Bonnington||OK copy so same again. Verstappen 30 seconds behind.|
|Bonnington||Verstappen 25 seconds. This is the last lap you’ve got 20 seconds to Verstappen.|
|Bonnington||17 seconds, 16 seconds. Strat 5. Ten seconds to Verstappen. Nine seconds to Verstappen. Seven seconds to Verstappen.|
|Hamilton||Is that the last lap?|
|Bonnington||You’ve done it, you’ve done it! Woah, that’s it mate.|
|Hamilton||There was no flag.|
|Bonnington||You’ve done it though mate. Just stop the car just pull the car over. We’ll come and get you. Stop stop stop.|
|Hamilton||You sure? I think I can drive it with the wheel off.|
|Bonnington||No, no it’s dangerous just stop it there. We just need to preserve the car. Preserve our stock bits.|
|Hamilton||Shit that was close. The car is honestly fine. It’s not running down.|
|Hamilton||That was close guys.|
|Bonnington||Yeah it was about six seconds. It was a close call too close for comfort but yeah awesome work mate.|
|Hamilton||The tyre was feeling fine. I must have hit something on the track.|
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