Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are no closer to solving their tire degradation woes despite finishing on the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“I think it’s just been a work in progress,” said Hamilton when asked about the W04’s tire problems. “We haven’t cured anything, it’s not been a long period of time since Barcelona where there was big trouble.”
“I guess we’ve just been to two tracks where it’s not got high speed corners, so therefore it’s not really been a problem. We’ve worked on a couple of techniques to look after the tires a bit more, brake cooling and all that kind of stuff has been added as well, which helps.”
Hamilton was positive about his car’s performance but admitted he was struggling for grip towards the end of the race which led to him being overtaken for second place by Fernando Alonso:
“I guess it’s just grip, just lack of grip,” he said. “The car was fantastic, I’m assuming those guys had even better than that.”
“But generally it’s been really good. I was just lacking a little bit of grip in the lower speed… perhaps the chicane. Fernando seemed to be particularly quick in the lower speed corners.”
He added he’s yet to get to the bottom of the braking problems that have plagued him since switching to Mercedes: “Generally, again, very similar to other races. Still need to improve and that’s where Fernando was really catching me everywhere.”
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.