x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Hamilton's aggressive style suited cold tyres at German Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton's ability to get the best out of his tyres in cold conditions was a factor in helping him spring a surprise by winning in Germany.

A delighted Lewis Hamilton vaults over a barrier to go and celebrate with his McLaren-Mercedes mechanics after winning the German Grand Prix on Sunday at the Nurburgring.
A delighted Lewis Hamilton vaults over a barrier to go and celebrate with his McLaren-Mercedes mechanics after winning the German Grand Prix on Sunday at the Nurburgring.

It was ironic that the very thing that has led to Lewis Hamilton being criticised by other drivers, the media and the public ended up helping him win the German Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton's aggressive style allowed him to pull off some important overtaking manoeuvres as well as do the best job of warming up his tyres in the cold conditions.

It was a fantastic race at the Nurburgring and it was great to see three drivers in Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber battling in three different cars for McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.

I was pleased to see Hamilton come out on top as a lot of the criticism that has come his way has been unfair.

I thought that he was at fault for the collision with Pastor Maldonado in Monaco, but other than that the other incidents he has been involved in were racing ones in my view.

I found it disappointing he received so much criticism from other drivers, both past and present.

Not one of them can honestly say they have never made a mistake in their racing careers, and to criticise a driver for getting it wrong in trying to make up a place, an error they have all made at one point or another in their respective careers, is a bit rich.

Hamilton is a terrific talent and he has made racing much more exciting, not just this year but since he came to the sport in 2007, by his willingness to have a go and not be content just to sit behind another car.

Yes, not all of his overtaking moves have come off, but the vast majority have, and he drove superbly in Germany and fully deserved his second win of the season.

It was not easy for the drivers because the cooler conditions at the track made it very hard to get heat into the tyres.

Formula One cars are used to running in hot conditions, and the tyres thrive in that climate, generating the heat which helps them stick to the surface and provides grip for the drivers.

When the climate is much colder the tyres struggle to warm up and do not give as much grip, and a number of drivers struggled with that throughout the race.

You can have the best set up car, but if you have cold tyres, your car becomes difficult to control and the handling changes massively.

But what you saw with Hamilton was that his attacking style allowed him to get more heat into his tyres at the important stages of the race.

The most obvious example was when he came across Alonso after the Spaniard had exited the pits in the lead after his second stop.

You could see Alonso was struggling for grip as he exited the first turn, and Hamilton, who had done a great job of warming up his tyres on his own out lap, was able to confidently sweep past the Ferrari into the lead.

A lap earlier he had been in the same position when he came out in front of Webber, who should have had the advantage on newer rubber.

But Hamilton was able to aggressively defend his place by forcing the Red Bull wide, and then he immediately pulled away.

In every stint of the race on fresh tyres Hamilton was able to pull away in the early stages and that proved crucial.

In those conditions his ability to be aggressive and push his car hard got better heat in his tyres than both Alonso and Webber, and with all three so well matched it probably was the deciding factor on what order they stood on the podium in at the end of the race.

I am pleased for Hamilton. He seemed to come to Germany in a much better frame of mind than he had been in at Canada, Valencia and Britain where his mind appeared to be elsewhere.

He seemed more relaxed and happy with the car and his McLaren team and it certainly showed in his performance.

It is almost certainly too late for him to challenge Sebastian Vettel for the world title, being 82 points adrift, but hopefully he can go on from this and keep fighting for wins at the front and keeping everyone entertained with his attacking style.

Johnny Herbert is a former F1 driver with three career victories. His column is written with the assistance of staff writer Graham Caygill


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