Formula One's Hamilton says tyre rules deprive fans
Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain at a pit stop during the qualifying session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19, 2014 - by Srdjan Suki
Hamilton claimed a British-record 34th pole position and he did it without going out for a meaningful lap in final practice on Saturday morning as the rain teemed down in Shanghai.
With FIA regulations only allowing four sets of intermediate tyres and three of full wets for a race weekend, many teams opted to save them so they could have a fresh set for each of the three qualifying stints later.
That left fans who had paid RMB900-3,700 ($145-600) for a grandstand seat for the weekend looking at an empty track for much of free practice. Hamilton said maybe the rules should be changed.
"Yeah, I mean, we all had to save our tyres," he said in the post-qualifying press conference. "I don’t think it’s great for the fans that we don’t have a huge amount of tyres."
With a dry race forecast on Sunday, teams took the gamble of cashing all their wet weather tyres in qualifying on a track described by Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg as a "tyre killer" because of its extended spiralling bends taken under braking after high-speed straights.
Hamilton, second in the drivers' standings behind Rosberg after three races, thought the rules could be re-examined so drivers could at least "go out and run so they (fans) can see us driving".
"I’m sure people are tuning in and turning up to the track to watch us drive and we’re kind of a little bit restricted, obviously with the engine mileage and also with the tyres.
"It would be cool if we had a little bit more tyre-life, then we would do some more running."