Lewis Hamilton says F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli should have brought softer rubber for this weekend’s race in Portugal.
However the Mercedes driver predicted another “close” and “exciting” contest with Red Bull at the Autodromo do Algarve.
Formula 1 is racing on the track near Portimao for the second year in a row. It was resurfaced prior to its first grand prix last year, and Hamilton said grip levels at the track have only improved slightly since then.
“It’s pretty much the same,” he said. “I think it’s a little bit grippier but it’s very windy. Today. I think everyone was struggling, sliding around out there.”
“It’s difficult to say whether it’s the car or the wind or the track,” he added. “It’s definitely been a real challenge today.”
Pirelli has nominated the three hardest tyres in its range – the C1, C2 and C3 – for this weekend’s race. Hamilton believes they should have gone a step softer.
“Generally it feels like we came here last year and the tyre was too hard and we’ve come here again this year with the same tyre – or actually, they’re even harder this year,” he said.
“It feels like we’ve come with too hard a compound in my opinion, I think it should have been mid-range, C3 [and] C4. But everyone’s on the same one so we’ll get through it somehow.”
Hamilton and Max Verstappen came away from the first two races with a win and a pole position each. They were separated by a tenth of a second at the end of today’s running.
The world champion, who leads the standings by a single point, expects there will be little to choose between them over the rest of the weekend.
“I think it’ll be a close run,” he said. “We look like were close. I don’t know how Max’s lap was. Mine wasn’t perfect. We’ve definitely got some time to come from the car and some improvements to make.
“I’m sure they have too. But it’s close, as it has been the last couple of races, so it’s exciting.”