Lewis Hamilton says he trusts measures put in place after the British GP tyre debacle
But Mercedes star admits missing Silverstone test places them on the back foot
By Mike Wise at the Nurburgring. Last Updated: 04/07/13 11:38pm
Lewis Hamilton: Positive changes being made
Lewis Hamilton says he trusts the measures introduced by the FIA and Pirelli in the wake of the British Grand Prix tyre debacle.
Hamilton was the first of four drivers to experience identical left-rear tyre failures during last Sunday's race at Silverstone. Leading from pole position, the Mercedes star ended any hopes fans might have had of a home win when he suffered the early blow-out on the Wellington Straight.
With safety now the watchword, the FIA and Pirelli have acted swiftly. This weekend's German Grand Prix sees a new, hopefully tougher, rear tyre introduced as a stop-gap measure with another on the way in time for the Hungarian GP.
"I have to trust the FIA and Pirelli. I'm not someone that dwells on something so I just forgot about it generally; I went home and did my thing," Hamilton said on Thursday. "Then I heard that they were making some positive changes and steps forward and that's what we all want to hear."
Hamilton fought back to finish fourth at Silverstone while team-mate Nico Rosberg went on to take the chequered flag. It's a result that gives credence to the notion that the excessive tyre degradation Mercedes have long suffered might now be a thing of the past.
The problem has revolved around the rear tyres, which are precisely what's changing this weekend. Yet Hamilton has no concerns that Mercedes might be sent back to square one.
"I don't think there's a concern. We don't know what to expect. We're just going into it with an open mind, so we can react just as soon as we know what the situation is," he said.
"It's all ifs and buts and what-ifs. I have no clue, no understanding of what difference it's going to make. As long as we don't have experiences like we had in the last race, that's all that matters really."
Hamilton did acknowledge, however, that missing the upcoming Young Driver Test, where other teams will get to try the Hungary for the first time, will disadvantage Mercedes.
The Brackley team must miss the test, to be run at Silverstone between July 17-19, as punishment for the controversial test they undertook with Pirelli in May, when the tyre to be used this weekend was first run.
The FIA announced the day after the British GP that it will allow race drivers to take part as well provided they stick to testing tyres only.
"Ultimately it is a disadvantage but we'll do our best to overcome it," Hamilton admitted. "When we do get the tyres in Hungary, we'll be playing catch-up. But we've got some really good people here and I don't think we're going to struggle to catch up."
The situation has also highlighted the tricks - which Pirelli has said contributed to the blow-outs - teams use to extract the most performance they can from tyres. Besides altering the pressures and camber angles, they have also been swapping the rears around.
The latter practice has surprised some but, according to Hamilton, it's nothing new. "I don't know who came up with it," he said. "I've been swapping tyres since I started Formula 1. It's been done for many, many years.
"Everyone does it because there's a slight benefit in doing it."
As F1 wrings its hands on the subject of safety, Mercedes at least gave Hamilton the chance to gain a little perspective - not to mention have some fun - on Thursday when he took a W154 out on the famed and feared Nordschleife.
Britain's Richard Seaman used such a car to win the 1938 German GP at the track and Hamilton said: "It's just incredible, the power they had back then. It's very weird with the brake on the right side and throttle in the middle.
"I was going down a hill and I'd forget where the brake was, panic a little bit and my heart would be in my mouth.
"I felt like I was going to fall out of the car. I don't know how they did it.
"It's just the greatest track in the world and driving it without barriers or anything, just trees, I just can't imagine the approach for one of those drivers on a race weekend - knowing it could be your last lap."