Verstappen had an easy job. He had soft tires for which he ran during the safety car. Hamilton, on the other hand, stayed on the track, which he later blamed on the team on the radio. According to the team, it was an attempt to win the race, even though the chances were not great.
In addition, Hamilton gave Verstappen a slipstream on the straight with a slightly faster restart. Last but not least, Hamilton had a wrong engine setup. However, he downplays the impact of this error.
“I got into race mode late, but on the straight I was in race mode,” said Hamilton, as quoted by Autosport. “They were just very fast on the straights.”
Hamilton was warned by his race engineer Peter Bonnington during the safety car to switch to a balanced race setup, the Strat Five. He reminded him again when Hamilton was already in the final banked corner. At the time, he was briefly without the 160 horsepower available from the MGU-K unit.
But Hamilton is also right that Red Bull’s speed on the straights is enormous. In the race, Lando Norris set the fastest speed on the speed trap, but both Red Bull drivers were right behind him. Verstappen reached a speed of 326.9 km/h on the speed trap. The Mercedes drivers finished at the opposite end of the table. Hamilton’s speed was only 315.3 km/h.
“Our car has too much resistance,” said Toto Wolff. “And until we fix that, it will be very difficult to fight them on the straight, especially on a track where it is difficult to overtake. Never say never. But the probability (that we will succeed in overtaking Red Bull) is less than 50%.”