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Would Lewis Hamilton have won without a safety car?

With the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set a negative personal record. Never before in his 16-year Formula 1 career has the Brit remained without a win after ten races, although he almost won his home race in 2022.

After the restart and Max Verstappen’s technical problems, the two Ferrari drivers got caught up in a duel that Hamilton used to gain ground on the medium tires. At that point, the Mercedes driver was the fastest man in the field, so he was just 1.7 seconds off the lead before Charles Leclerc pitted.

After Carlos Sainz and the Monegasque picked up new hard tires from the pits, Hamilton took the lead of the race and was able to continue to set strong lap times on the old medium tyre, only marginally slower than the Ferrari drivers’ times on fresh tyres.

Lewis Hamilton: “Pace was great”

However, when Hamilton pitted himself on lap 34, the mechanics botched the tire change with a laytime of 4.3 seconds, meaning the Briton came back on track 2.5 seconds behind the Ferraris.

The seven-time world champion was now catching up as his hard tires were 13 laps fresher than Sainz’s and eight laps fresher than Leclerc’s. “We lost a bit of time during the pit stop and then I chased and chased them. The pace was great on both sets of tires,” says Hamilton.

In the first phase of his second stint, the Briton lost some time because the hard tires weren’t quite up to temperature. But within a few laps he reduced the gap to Sainz, who had previously let Leclerc pass, from four to just one and a half seconds before Esteban Ocon triggered a safety car phase with a technical defect.

Safety car thwarts Hamilton’s chance of victory

While Leclerc surprisingly stayed behind with the old hard tyres, Sainz and Hamilton took the opportunity to switch to new soft tyres. At this point, however, it was clear that the Mercedes driver would no longer win the race as his tire advantage over Sainz became obsolete.

“I just tried to stand out as much as possible [mit dem Reifenunterschied]. I was getting faster and faster, the tires were getting stronger and I was slowly starting to catch up. If we hadn’t had the safety car, I think I would have been able to beat those two at the end. But it wasn’t meant to be,” Hamilton said.

At the restart, Sainz was able to pass his team-mates fairly quickly, while behind them a great battle between Leclerc, Hamilton and Red Bull driver Sergio Pérez, who was also on new red tyres, took place.

Sainz and Pérez ended up too fast for Hamilton

Hamilton initially had to give up his position against Pérez, but when the Red Bull driver then attacked Leclerc hard in the last corner, the Briton took the opportunity to slip through and temporarily moved up to second place.

But Pérez passed again and Leclerc didn’t give up and overtook the Brit on the outside in the fast Copse curve. Hamilton was then finally able to prevail against the Monegasque.

“They were just too fast for us today,” says Hamilton about race winner Sainz and second-placed Pérez. “In the end it was just a bit difficult once you have a Red Bull behind you because they are so quick on the straights. So we still have to make some improvements. But being on the podium is a big bonus for us .”

Three-way battle with Leclerc and Pérez: “Formula 1 at its best”

He still enjoyed the gripping three-way battle: “I definitely had that! It reminded me a lot of my karting days and I think that’s Formula 1 at its best. The fact that we were able to do it lap after lap like that driving is a testament to the right direction, which I think we’re going in now.”

“I was just grateful that I was able to fight. Because I haven’t been in fights like this in a while. I’m also so grateful for the hard work that the whole team has done to get an upgrade here. We are one Step closer to them. So we have to keep pushing.”

Hamilton: Not yet capable of winning, but “not far away”

Hamilton is observing the emerging Mercedes performance with benevolence: “I think it’s very encouraging that we were in the fight. There were other times. I mean, for a while I was able to match the pace of the Ferraris and at some stages I was even faster. And in the end we also had the fastest lap, which I don’t think we’ve managed to do this year.”

“We’ve had an upgrade this weekend and I think the race pace has definitely improved. That’s been our strength in general this year, but it’s definitely helped us get a little bit closer. I don’t think we’ve done it yet We can win on our own, but we’re not that far off,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton remains winless in 2022 Formula 1 season

The fact that he still hasn’t won a race at this point in the season leaves Hamilton cold: “It’s not a strange feeling at all. Things like that just happen. I may not have had many years like this in my career, but there have definitely been years in my career that I haven’t won in a while.”

“But the progress we’ve made over the past few races definitely gives us hope that there’s still more to come. There’s potential in this car and we just have to keep doing our job, keep our heads down, stay focused and not give up.”

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