Lewis Hamilton says the reason he recently volunteered to test Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres with Mercedes was because he plans to remain on the grid in 2022 and wanted to sample the new product that will be used next year.
By his own admittance, Hamilton has rarely been keen on the often fastidious task of testing. But the seven-time world champion, whose contract with Mercedes expires at the end of this season, asked to take part in the two-day work session at Imola.
“Firstly, I don’t ever volunteer for test days,” Hamilton admitted. “That is probably one of the first ones that I have volunteered for.
“So I immediately regretted it when I woke up in the morning! I was like ‘damn it’. But it was a really great track to do the test that so I enjoyed the day and the weather was good.
“I plan to be here next year and I want to be a part of that, I want to help Pirelli.”
In addition to experiencing Pirelli’s 2022 tyre design, Hamilton, who has often criticized F1’s exclusive tyre supplier in the past, also wanted to contribute to the product’s development and possibly improve its grip and degradation characteristics.
“It’s something that drivers, all of us I think, have wished for – [higher] performance tyres – moving forward,” he said.
“So it was important for me to see, to gauge where the starting point is and what differences I can help [with]. So that, first of all, from a drivers’ point of view, we have more grip, more mechanical grip in our tyres, less degradation.
“It was a good test and obviously it was the first step with the tyres. But it definitely wasn’t a bad place to start.”
Although he anticipates continuing his career in F1 in 2022 with Mercedes, Hamilton suggested his situation regarding 2022 was fluid amid a challenging year, but one he’s enjoying.
“I’m pretty spontaneous so it could always change,” he admitted. “But I’m enjoying this battle that we’re having [with Max Verstappen]. It’s been more exciting. It’s been even more of a challenge.”
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