Lewis Hamilton believes that World Champion believes the chances of recovering to the points in Belgium will be much tougher than Shanghai, where he started from 22nd and finished seventh.
In Spa he will start 21st after Fernando Alonso’s power unit penalties ensured that Hamilton won’t actually start last.
Hamilton says the high pressures mandated by Pirelli will make it hard to keep the tyres alive over a stint, especially as he tries to fight his way through the pack.
“It’s completely different to China,” said Hamilton. “In China we didn’t have [tyre] failures the previous year, and therefore they didn’t put the pressure up to a ridiculous number. That is the case here. They had failures last year, they’re nervous of failures this year, so they put the pressures up to 23 or 24 whatever it is, which is so high, I’ve never seen pressures like that in my whole racing career. That doesn’t help.
“Plus it’s very hot, and being at those pressures, we get blisters. In China the tyres went a lot longer, it was cooler, and the tyres behave more like normal tyres. Here there’s not really much you can do to stop the tyres from blistering and overheating. Tomorrow is going to be interesting with that, so it’s definitely a much harder race than China ever was.”
Hamilton said one of the big problems will be running in traffic.
“As I said before its going to be a very, very hard race. If I had a choice of tracks to start dead last and overtake, this is definitely not in the top three for me in terms of an overtaking circuit. Whilst you can have a good tow up to Eau Rouge, being this hot, it’s going to be hard to follow.
“Being in the traffic it’s very unlikely I’m going to get to my stop target or go longer than the guys in front of me. I envisage tomorrow it’s even going to be hard to get into the top 10 with the tyres the way they are. I hope that I prove myself wrong, and I hope that I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Hamilton insists that he will start from the grid rather than pitlane, despite the obvious risk of getting involved in a first corner accident.
“I never like to start from the pitlane. It means you have to wait for them to come past you in the pitlane exit. By the time I get round the corner they will be half way down the hill, almost going into Eau Rouge, the last car.
“That means then I have to catch up. Of course, there’s a possibilities of me crashing in Turn One and you avoid it, but there’s also possibilities that there’s not, and then I just give up seven seconds or whatever it is. I can’t afford to lose any time. So my plan is to start from the grid.”
Regarding a realistic target he said: “All I can hope for is just to aim as high as possible, and try and get up as high as I can. It feels unlikely that it will be a podium position, but it’s not impossible. Things could happen, safety cars, all these sorts of things. But with these tyres the way they are, which is a bit of a mess, it’s going to be tough out there for everyone. It’s definitely going to be tough to come through and get on the podium and win.”