He clinched a record pole position and behaved like a superior role – made an impressive gap between Ferrari duo Raikkonen and Vettel. But the unlucky Brit dropped behind Vettel when Ferrari took advantage of the virtual safety car period, while Hamilton was affected by faulty pit strategy.
In the final stint of racing Hamilton put pressure on Vettel, especially push hard on the DRS zone but unable to overtake him. Finally, the Mercedes ace decided to settle for second place and admits that he was also saving his engine for another day.
From 2018 F1 season, each driver is restricted to just three engine units — a reduction of one from last season
“I was having to save the engine, it was overheating,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve got to do seven races with this engine, preferably more if I can. So, I was on the limiter and I was too hot but I was pushing, I was just like ‘I’m going to keep going’. I was nervous of damaging the engine at the same time. I cooled it down and then it started coming back, I got relatively close.”
“I was quite close behind in his tow, just nicked the right-front, didn’t make the corner,” said Hamilton. “And after that, I was trying to catch up, temperatures again on the limit, constantly being pushed and pulled. And then I just thought I couldn’t get him in those laps, my tires (are) going to be worse now, I’m driving at 110 percent, I’m risking everything just for seven points. And I should probably sit back, save my engine and use the life in it for the next race.
“That goes against my spirit of racing. I want to race right down to the last line. I’m fit enough, I felt good.”
In qualifying Hamilton was 0.664 seconds faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with the Finn’s teammate Sebastian Vettel third quickest.
Mercedes boss Wolff confirmed the existence of the mode but says that the lap was more down to the driver than the power unit.
“There is a party mode in the car, we switched the party mode on in Q3,” Wolff said. “There was no difference from the first run in Q3 to the second run in Q3, he just said that he had a great lap, pulled it all together, carried more speed through the apexes.
“The gap was down to Lewis Hamilton putting in a lap with the grip level that he didn’t seem to be able to extract before. Everything was in the sweet spot, I guess. There wasn’t any difference in modes.”