Lewis Hamilton voices Mercedes frustration, says tyre call was wrong

Sir Lewis Hamilton finished fifth at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ Sir Lewis Hamilton has observed that there is more spray coming off the cars now than there was before in wet conditions.

The Singapore Grand Prix was delayed by an hour, and by the time it started, the track had dried enough for the Intermediates to be used, drawing criticism of the FIA.

In Japan last weekend, the weather arrived again on race day, as it had done during Friday practice, but the race start time was kept as originally planned.

Perceivably, the conditions had not worsened to the extent of needing extreme Wets, but as the drivers set off from the grid on the opening lap, it became apparent that it was too wet for the Intermediates.

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This was confirmed when Carlos Sainz aquaplaned at Turn 11 and span off into the barrier, causing a red flag period, during which a recovery vehicle was sent out onto the circuit.

Pierre Gasly, in horrible visibility, was nearly hit by the crane, in what could easily have been a repeat of Jules Bianchi’s fatal crash in Suzuka in 2014.

Thankfully, the FIA’s negligence did not lead to any serious consequences this time, and the race resumed after another lengthy delay.

With 40 minutes left on the clock, the event became a 28-lap sprint race, and Max Verstappen stormed out in the lead by 27 seconds from Charles Leclerc.

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Hamilton was stuck behind the Alpine of Esteban Ocon before and after the change back onto Intermediates from Wets, and try as he might, he could not get past the Frenchman.

In hindsight, the seven-time champion might have opted for a different set of tyres at the start of the race.

“We probably all should have started on extreme wets. When we did the laps to the grid it was inters, but I guess it just then started to rain a bit more,” explained Hamilton.

“If we had all started on extremes, we would have just kept going and it would have been fine. It was definitely tough with the visibility but it was awesome at the same time.”

Hamilton indicated that the visibility out on track is worse this season due to the spray coming off the new ground effect-based cars, but he enjoyed the challenge.

“This year, here, pretty much everywhere, the visibility has been pretty bad. It seems like there is maybe more spray this year,” he theorised.

“But the battle was a lot of fun, I had a lot of fun. He did a great job to stay on track and stay ahead, I was trying everything but I think we had the most fun!”

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In the end, a draggy W13 car prevented Hamilton from taking fourth place away from Ocon.

“We were just incredibly slow this week, slowest out of everyone on the straights,” he stated.

Hamilton’s team-mate, George Russell, ended up in eighth having been passed on the final lap by Fernando Alonso, who was narrowly pipped to sixth on the line by Sebastian Vettel.