The switch to softer compounds and the rise of tyre pressures compared to last week put on a critical challenge to the Mercedes cars. The combination of blistering and graining on their rubbers force them to give the win up for the first time in 2020 at the 70th Anniversary GP.
Post race Lewis Hamilton has confirmed the massive struggle he had often underlined in the team radios: “It was a really challenging race out there today. I'm just grateful that we managed to bring it home in P2 and score some good points.”
Not a quote you’d expect to hear from the six time world champion that congrats Red Bull and Max Verstappen for having managed the race way better than Mercedes: “Fair play to Max on the win, Red Bull didn't seem to have the same tyre issues we encountered. We didn't expect to struggle with the blistering to the extent we experienced it. The first stint was difficult, in the second stint I was managing the tyres like you cannot believe. I was doing everything I could to nurse the tyres, but it made no difference to the blistering. I was pushing so hard in those final laps to pass Charles and Valtteri that it felt like I was racing with half a tyre at the end.”
Valtteri Bottas is unimpressed as well, possibly also for having reached the checkered flag after his team mate despite a great start from pole: “That was a frustrating race today. It's never great to start from pole and finish P3. I think we were pretty much on the backfoot from the moment I lost track position to Max.”
The race strategy upset the Finn as well: “We potentially could have gone longer in the second stint, the way Lewis did, to be able to push more towards the end of the race on fresher tyres. I tried to keep up with Max, but as soon as I started to push in the final stint the tyres just fell apart. We really struggled with the blistering today; as soon as you have blisters, you lose the grip and the performance, and it becomes very tough.”