An unimpressed Lewis Hamilton wants softer tyres, more pit-stops and a lot more fun at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
But most of all, like his team-mate Nico Rosberg, he wants to understand the new ‘ultra-soft’ Pirelli tyres better and bounce back to the front of the field in Saturday’s key qualifying session.
The defending three-time world champion, who lies 43 points behind his championship leading Mercedes team mate, revealed his frustrations on Friday after struggling with Pirelli’s new ‘ultra-soft’ tyres during Thursday’s opening practice sessions.
Seeking a first win in nine races since clinching his third title at the United States Grand Prix last October, the 31-year-old Briton knows he is running out of time to rekindle his flickering title defence.
Not only does he need to reduce the deficit to Rosberg, and quickly, but he has also to keep the rest of his rivals at bay – a task thrown into clear relief on Thursday when Daniel Ricciardo made best use of the new rubber when he topped the times by six-tenths of a second for Red Bull.
Hamilton knows that, if the Australian dominates again in Saturday’s qualifying and then makes a clean start, it will be difficult to pass him without the aid of some smart strategy.
Like many, he had hoped Pirelli’s new compound would not only create more grip, but also provide more strategy options.
Instead, almost scathingly, he dismissed the new tyres as “pretty much the super softs -- with purple paint”…. And then forecast another predictable procession in Sunday’s race unless the weather intervenes.
"Unfortunately, most likely, it's going to be exactly the same as the years before,” he said. “There are no real great decisions being made that are going to make this race any better.
“The last three or four years, it's been a one-stop race, which is the most boring. Everyone knows if you have pole position you are going to win and with a one-stop race it's a procession.
“I was messaging a friend the other day and he said 'I'm not coming to Monaco 'because it's a train’... I said 'Yeah, I'm in it and, hopefully, at the front'… but then, the other night, I was thinking ‘why don’t we have more stops?’
“For me, the ultra-soft is not soft enough. We need ultra-, ultra-, ultra-, ultra-soft -- four times softer so we can do more stops. That would mix it up.
“In my first years here, when there were more stops, it was way more exciting, but they won't do that…. we'll be two seconds faster than last year, but overtaking will be the same…
“Everyone should know this is a track that you can't overtake on so qualifying's going to be the race and, on Sunday, you’ll see a procession, a train. Again!
“Hopefully, because it's so close, whoever's first, second and third, it will come down to that one pit stop…”
Hamilton’s frustration and disappointment was countered by Rosberg and Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe.
“For us, in this case, it's great that we have an extra day with the situation we find ourselves in," said Rosberg. “We have more time to dig and to try and find some more performance. It's important we do our homework.
"We have so much information on the tyres with temperature sensors here, there and everywhere. We can create an accurate picture of what they are doing on track.
"We are looking to extract a bit more out of these tyres, which we're running for the first time in Monaco.
"We want to see if we can get a bit more out of them for qualifying because the Red Bulls were doing something pretty good -- and we need to try and understand it."
Lowe added: “We didn't run the ‘ultra-soft’ in the Barcelona tests so we hadn't run it at all, until Thursday.
“But that’s not such a terrible omission – running it around Barcelona in February was not particularly representative of what we've seen here in Monaco.
“Now, we have a lot of new data… Of course, it's one thing to have the data and another to turn it into performance! But that’s what matters, and that brings in the engineering as opposed to just data gathering."
He added that the circuit had been resurfaced in many places and this also had affected the team’s data and performance.
“Probably about half of the track is new tarmac,” he said. “So, you can't predict exactly how that's going to affect the tyres. Sometimes, there’s a limit to what you can learn from a prior simulation because it's not been calibrated. So, you have to go out and do that on the day.”