Lewis Hamilton has revealed how using the wrong engine mode during the restart for the Belgian Grand Prix helped him fend off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to ultimately win the race.
When the safety went back in following a controversial clash between the two Force India drivers, Hamilton was under pressure by F1’s world championship leader, who was running the ultra-soft tyre — which was considered to be an advantage — as compared to Hamilton’s soft tyre.
The Briton went on to explain that the use of a wrong engine mode meant that Vettel was tucked up behind him from the exit of La Source hairpin, which got the German too close on the run up Eau Rouge and Raidillon, which compromised Vettel’s run down through the Kemmel Straight, which was enough for Hamilton to hold the lead – which ultimately handed him the victory of the Belgian GP.
“Initially I got a very good start when we were on the back straight, I got a real good pull away,” said Hamilton.
“I was able to catch him out, as I did in Baku on the three or four starts with the safety car. I broke away, but didn’t have the right power mode.
“I pulled away initially, and then he started catching me up, so he went into the last corner.
“Initially it felt like that’s a mistake, but in actual fact it was actually a really good thing, because if I came out of the last corner with that gap, he would have had the momentum, being three or four car lengths behind, to really propel and really get a good tow, and come and slip past me.
“It worked out perfectly.”
The British driver also revealed the tactics he used climbing the hill – up Eau Rouge and Raidillon – which kept the German driver at bay.
“We got into Turn 1, I had very cold tyres, so I had a small lock-up. He was on the gas before me, I could hear him, and then as we were going down that straight I didn’t keep it full lit the whole way, I was at 90 percent throttle, just to keep him as close as possible.
“I knew he wasn’t going to come by, because he knows I would overtake him then at the top part with the tow.
“As we were going up Eau Rouge, that’s where I really gave it maximum power. We got to the top and he had no space to really propel himself, so he just pulled out alongside. It was a cool battle, but it was really great to go into Turn 5 having done just enough to stay ahead. I was really happy with that.”
“After that it was like nine or 10 laps or whatever it was of qualifying, heavy, fast laps, to try and continue with that gap.
“He was very quick, he had the better tyre, so I had to pull out some really good laps in order to stay ahead of him, because he was very, very quick in that second phase.”