Lewis Hamilton: Power mode ban not a concern, says Mercedes driver

Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has no concerns about the introduction of a rule that appears to be aimed at slowing Mercedes down.

F1 bosses are considering a rule that would prevent the use of high-power modes in qualifying, with which rivals believe Mercedes have an advantage.

But Hamilton said: “It is obviously to slow us down but I don’t think it will get the result they want.

“They’re always trying to slow us down but it doesn’t change a huge amount for us.”

The rule being considered would force teams to use a single engine mode throughout a race weekend.

This would effectively ban power boosts used in qualifying because teams could not afford to run their engines at that level of performance all the time without causing reliability problems.

Mercedes are believed to have the most effective qualifying engine mode, especially after an upgrade over the winter.

Teams have used engines in this way since the complex and high-tech hybrid power-units were introduced in 2014.

The rule change has not been confirmed but teams have been told governing body the FIA is considering it, and there is a high chance of it coming into force before the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the month, the race after this weekend’s event in Spain.

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas said he believed it could make races less interesting.

“We are not panicking about it,” the Finn said. “The first thing that came to my mind was that in races every team has different modes how much they want to risk (the engine).

“If there was the same engine mode for everyone there could be less overtaking because everyone is just running same modes rather than playing with them and sometimes using more or less power.”

Hamilton and Bottas said Mercedes had been working long hours since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix last weekend to work out why they suffered the heavy tyre wear that led to their defeat by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The issue was believed to have been caused by a combination of softer tyres, higher ambient temperatures and higher minimum pressures demanded by tyre supplier Pirelli.

For this weekend’s race in Spain, Pirelli is supplying its three hardest tyre compounds, but the weather is expected to be even hotter than it was at Silverstone.

“It was definitely something that was not on our radar,” Hamilton said. “But you learn most in those situations where you are heavily challenged.

“We have gone through a deeper evaluation of what caused the issue. We understand it better; doesn’t mean it can’t happen again but we have a better understanding of what leads to it. Here the track is going to be in the 50Cs and everyone is in the same boat.”

Vettel hoping to improve

Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel said he was “sure” his form would improve after two difficult weekends at Silverstone, where he was out-paced by team-mate Charles Leclerc.

The German four-time champion has been given a new chassis after a crack was discovered in his during an investigation after the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Vettel said: “I don’t expect miracles. Hopefully a smoother weekend.”

Vettel criticised Ferrari’s strategy after the last race but denied that the atmosphere in the team was tense.

“We are trying to do everything we can,” he said. “It is never relaxed if things don’t go your way or they go wrong – we didn’t have a great race. It’s wrong to judge emotions on reaction immediately after the race.

“We try to come back up. There is not much difference in the atmosphere from the weekend before that or even from the weekends before that.”

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season after the team decided not to offer him a new contract and his struggles have led to speculation that he might not see out the season with them.

Asked whether he had such concerns, Vettel said: “I don’t think so. We haven’t even considered or spoken about it. It is not just a question for myself. I know the job I can do. It has not been the cleanest run but if things calm down and I get a decent chance then I will use it.

“At the moment it is not all plain sailing and all calm; it is rather rough seas.

“But I have to do the best I can which is staying focused and waking up and trying to do the best I can and being fairly open-minded and trying to tackle it.

“I didn’t have a great weekend in Silverstone and didn’t get a great feeling with the car, wasn’t able to extract as much from the car as Charles was for whatever reason.

“There is not much I can do apart from work with everyone around me on my car to make sure we get the best package together.”

And asked if he felt he was getting equal equipment to Leclerc, he said: “At the moment, I would think so. If not I would say otherwise.”

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