On the surface it looked like another easy win for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend, but the reigning world champion admitted that he had been nervous about getting caught out by another late upset in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Last month Hamilton suffered a last lap tyre blow-out at Silverstone but clung on to take victory in the British Grand Prix. He admitted that he had been concerned about something similar thing happening again in Spa.
“It wasn’t the easiest of races,” he told the media after the end of the race on Sunday. “I was a little bit nervous that we might have a scenario like Silverstone with that right front towards the end, so I was nursing it.
“It looks like the tyre has plenty of rubber on it, so maybe it was fine and I was all worried for nothing.
“[But] I had a lockup into turn 5 which started to give a bit of a vibration, then one into the last corner,” he continued.
“The tyre temperatures were slowly dropping. No matter how much you were pushing, you lose rubber and then you start to lose temperature in the tyres, so it was a bit of a struggle.”
Hamilton admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the current trend to one-stop racing and a focus on tyre management.
“Today it’s really tyres – everyone’s doing a one stop. This whole one stop thing really is boring,” he told Sky Sports F1. “At the end of the day we’re all just managing out there, which is not racing.
“We’re all managing, at the end everyone’s backing off so that the tyres don’t deflate, blow up – we have no idea what they’re going to do.”
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Hamilton was able to nurse his tyres to the finish, ultimately ending up with an eight second advantage over his team mate Valtteri Bottas and the same again back to Max Verstappen.
Other than worries about the tyres and a brief scare when it appeared the engine lost some power, victory had never really appeared to be in doubt once Hamilton won the sprint into La Source and then out-dragged Bottas and Verstappen up to Eau Rouge and Raidillon and along the Kemmell Straight.
“That start is a nightmare because it’s one of the shortest runs to turn 1,” Hamilton admitted. “Out of turn 1 I had a big snap trying to get on the gas to get the gap.
“It worked to my benefit to be honest that snap because it meant [Bottas] was right on my tail and had to lift,” he explained. “When they got to the top of the hill he didn’t have enough time to slingshot. No shake and bake today!
“If I didn’t have that snap I would have had a cars’ length, but he would have eaten that up down the straight.”
Hamilton’s fourth Belgian Grand Prix win means he extends his lead at the top of the drivers championship to 47 points after seven of the 17 rounds of the 2020 season.
Mercedes meanwhile are more than 100 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors standings, which Hamilton said reflected the strength of his team’s line-up compared with that of their rivals.
“What you’ve got to look at with Red Bull is that they have a very good car and I think people downplay it, but they’ve got a very, very strong car and Max is doing a great job with it.
“But unfortunately both drivers aren’t there, like me and Valtteri are there. That makes it harder for them,” he said. “If you don’t have a team mate backing you up you don’t get the constructors points, and you can’t play the strategy on the cars your’e racing against.”
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