Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s strategy director James Vowles explained the reason why the team fitted the Medium tyre instead of the Hard Pirelli compounds onto Lewis Hamilton‘s car during the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton won the race whilst having to defend against Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen and overcoming tyre issues in the later stages of the race. The reigning world champion was on the Medium tyres compared to the likes of Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas who were on the hardest tyre available.
The Brit managed to make the set of Medium tyres last for 67 laps around Monaco, also suffering a late hit from Verstappen at the Nouvelle Chicane. Hamilton still managed to bring his Mercedes home to victory, capturing his third win in the Principality.
Verstappen was demoted to fourth after being handed a time penalty for an unsafe release, having collided with Bottas in the pit lane.
Hamilton dedicated the victory to the late Niki Lauda, who passed away prior to the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Mercedes’ strategy director Vowles explained on the ‘Pure Pitwall’ debrief video on the teams’ YouTube channel that the data the team gathered from Hamilton’s long run on the tyres during Thursday’s Free Practice 2 session, indicated that he could last the race on those tyres no problem.
“The reality in Monaco is, you won’t overtake. So even though we had the hard tyres ready in the pit lane to fit in the car, if we had to do a pit stop at any point, we would of just been fourth out of the four cars in that train,” said Vowles.
“We were one of the top teams to have both Medium and Soft tyres available to long run in FP2. The track conditions were slightly worse than what they were going to be in the race but were still representative enough to understand how the tyres are performing.
“On those long runs we did on the Mediums, we were able to see that their life would just about make what we needed to in the race to achieve the stints that happened when the safety car came out. And that’s what triggered our decision.
“In Monaco, you typically want the softest rubber you can get away with for the stint length that you are trying to get to. And we knew it would be tight, we knew it would need a lot of management but believed based on the Thursday data that the Medium tyre would do the job.”
Vowles also explained how the Medium tyre was the right compound to be on in an event of wet weather arriving in Monaco. Prior to the race, the weather forecast predicted a 90% chance of rain arriving but never arrived during the Grand Prix.
“If you can see our weather radar, you would of seen a sea of blue come in from the east towards the circuit,” explained Vowles
“It actually broke up. There was a very little bit of light rain during the race but we had forecasted that there was going to be slightly heavier than that. Not enough to go to inters but enough to be very difficult on dry tyres.
“The Medium may well have provided slightly more coverage in those conditions being a slightly softer compound and that’s why we erred towards that slightly softer, Medium tyre.”