Hamilton: It was a good gamble and really great strategy


Lewis Hamilton credited the strategists at Mercedes after claiming his 98th victory in Formula 1 on Sunday during the Spanish Grand Prix.

After claiming his 100th pole position on Saturday, Hamilton was forced to work for the victory, with Max Verstappen overtaking him into Turn 1 on the opening lap of the race.

The seven-time world champion looked to have the advantage in terms of race pace though, remaining within 1.5 seconds of the Dutchman throughout the first stint.

“Such a close start, obviously there was a little rubber down on the right-hand side and the Red Bull made a great start,” Hamilton said after the race. “Then I was just hunting and I was so close for so long.”

Verstappen was first to pit onto the medium compounds, with Hamilton staying out a further six laps in order to build a tyre offset.

After coming out of the pits Hamilton got back up onto Verstappen’s gearbox, but was still unable to get past the resilient Red Bull driver, prompting Mercedes to pit Hamilton again with 23 laps remaining.

“I didn’t think in doing that I was going to be able to make the tyres last,” he explained.

“I just managed to just keep them in somehow. A long way to come from 20 seconds back, but it was a good gamble, really great strategy.”

The key to the two-stop strategy was the ability of Mercedes to put Hamilton onto a second set of medium tyres, something that the team had kept in mind all weekend.

“The plan all weekend to make sure we had two mediums, to be able to do a two-stop,” Hamilton added.

“Even though one-stop potentially looks better, I know from experience here that a one-stop is very, very hard to pull off.

“As soon as we had the pace that we had, I knew as soon as I could get past him if I could. I was about to get, I think, a shot to get past him before I pitted.

“I was really conflicted: do I come in or do I ignore the call and stay out? I did what the team asked and that’s because there is great trust between us.”