Hamilton: Red Bull has better set of strategy cards to play

Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull strategically holds “better cards” heading into Formula 1’s 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with its drivers starting behind the world champion on different tyres. 

Hamilton: Red Bull has better set of strategy cards to play

Mercedes driver Hamilton upset the formbook to clinch pole position ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, who both made mistakes on their final Q3 laps at Imola and missed their own respective chances to head the grid

Perez is starting on the soft compound tyres after he and Red Bull opted to prioritise ensuring a Q3 berth over using the medium tyres in qualifying’s middle sector, sacrificing what would have been a better starting strategy as a result. 

Hamilton and Verstappen did get through Q2 on the medium tyres, which means their race strategy can have great flexibility by being able to run longer in the first stint. 

But it is understood that the 2021 Pirelli C4 softs are not degrading rapidly in the weekend’s cool conditions, which increases Perez’s chances of taking the fight to Hamilton alongside his teammate. 

Speaking after taking his 99th F1 career pole, Hamilton was asked for his thoughts on how Mercedes might battle both Red Bull cars in Sunday’s race – the reverse situation to many events in recent seasons where only Verstappen has been able to bother the Black Arrows up front. 

“If we’re able to get off in order, then they obviously have a bit of a better set of cards in terms of strategy,” said Hamilton.  

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t pull out something unique and do something different.  

“I’m not really sure what happened with Valtteri [Bottas, the 2020 Imola polesitter who qualified eighth after topping both Friday practice sessions and Q1].  

“It’s very hard to overtake here so obviously we probably won’t have the support of him early on, but nevertheless maybe he will make it through.  

“But otherwise we’ve just got to focus on our job and try and do absolutely everything and more to keep these lads behind.” 

Read Also:

When asked by Motorsport.com to explain the difference between his two Q3 laps – the second of which was fractionally slower than the 1m14.411s that secured pole – Hamilton said: “I didn’t honestly know whether or not we could do it.  

“The first lap, for example, of Q3, started I think a tenth up out of Turns 1 and 2 and I knew that I was onto a good lap, but the second sector lost a little bit a Turn 12 [Acque Minerali].  

“The second time around, unfortunately came out of Turn 2 and 3 [Tamburello] a tenth and a half down, I think it was, or a tenth down, and by the time I got to Turn 9 [Piretella], I was a tenth and a half down, but managed to regain that through the middle and the last sector.  

“So, having those two together I think would have been the perfect-perfect lap – but I’m honestly so happy with that [first] lap.  

“The first lap really is obviously where it counted. So, grateful for it.” 

shares
comments

Related video

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

Previous article

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

Next article

Seidl: Self-criticism after Imola mistake typical of Norris

Seidl: Self-criticism after Imola mistake typical of Norris
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Emilia Romagna GP
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Red Bull Racing , Mercedes
Author Alex Kalinauckas
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021