Why Mercedes gave Hamilton that fateful pit stop – and why it cost him victory

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Mercedes’ decision to bring Lewis Hamilton into the pits on lap 65 of the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix will forever be remembered as the moment that lost him the race – and probably one of F1’s most disastrous pit calls.

But why did they do it? As the data from the race shows, Mercedes were not the only team to think it was a move they could and should take.

In fact, more than half the teams took the opportunity to pit one of their cars during the Safety Car period caused by the Max Verstappen-Romain Grosjean crash. In the case of Red Bull, switching Daniel Ricciardo to a softer set of tyres gave him the performance boost he needed to reclaim fifth place from Kimi Raikkonen with a forceful pass.

All of the drivers who did come in for a late pit stop had one thing in common: they had enough of a gap over the next car behind them that they could expect they wouldn’t lose a position by doing so. Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Jenson Button, Felipe Nasr and Felipe Massa all took the opportunity to make a ‘free’ pit stop and get on fresher tyres, and all held their positions.

What’s more, several of them had smaller margins over their closest pursuers than Hamilton to begin with. Hamilton had a lead of more than 19 seconds over Nico Rosberg when he came in, yet lost the lead to Rosberg and second place to Sebastian Vettel. How did it go wrong for Mercedes?

For 30 seconds after Verstappen speared the barrier at Sainte Devote the Virtual Safety Car boards were illuminated. This was the first time they had been used in Formula One, but they were swiftly replaced by the Safety Car boards. It was this more conventional development that caught Mercedes out.

“We got our numbers wrong”, Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff admitted. “We thought we had the gap for Lewis to take fresh tyres and come back out in the lead behind the Safety Car, ahead of Nico and covering off any risk of another competitor taking fresh tyres. But the calculation was incorrect and he came out in third place.”

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The pit stop itself was not especially fast but that wasn’t where the bulk of time was lost. Hamilton’s 65th tour – his in-lap – took over two minutes and 11 seconds. For comparison that of Ricciardo, who was heading to the pits at the same time, was a shade under the two minute mark.

The difference was down to the location of the Safety Car on the track. Hamilton caught it in the second sector of his in-lap. When he pulled into the pits Rosberg and Vettel hadn’t caught it yet, and the time they gained catching the Safety Car as they looped around the Monaco pits was where they gained the time Hamilton’s strategists thought they had in hand.

This was not the first time Hamilton has been caught out pitting under the Safety Car at Monaco. Two years ago he was passed by both Red Bull drivers in a similar situation, though the circumstances on that occasion were somewhat different.

Today’s scenario was more similar to Singapore last year, where Mercedes brought Hamilton in from the lead for super-soft tyres under a Safety Car period with just eight laps to go. On that occasion he fell behind Sebastian Vettel but was easily able to pass him to win.

However in Monaco, where track position is even more critical, Mercedes surely would not have brought Hamilton in at all had they thought it was likely he would lose the lead. They expected he would be able to put on fresh tyres, strengthening his position at the front, without losing any advantage. But his ‘free’ pit stop turned out to have a high price.

Why did Mercedes do it? Clearly they thought they saw an opportunity to gain an advantage at no cost. They were also relying on input from Hamilton about the state of his tyres. Tellingly, in the press conference he revealed he had been keeping an eye on developments on the track side video walls and had formed a mistaken impression that Rosberg and Vettel had already switched to the super-soft tyres.

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“I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted,” said Hamilton. “Obviously I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting.”

“The team said to stay out, I said ‘these tyres are going to drop in temperature,’ and what I was assuming was that these guys would be on [super-soft] and I was on the harder tyre.”

“So they said to pit. Without thinking I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same.”

As Mercedes being the post-mortem on this one they will surely find more than one way their strategic game needs to be sharpened up.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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116 comments on “Why Mercedes gave Hamilton that fateful pit stop – and why it cost him victory”

  1. Dave (@bigchrome)
    24th May 2015, 22:27

    It’s totally unexplainable. Terrible decision by Toto. Track position is the only thing that matters at Monaco.

    1. But Hamilton’s admitted he was part of the decision? And he can always say “No thanks.” That’s what I never understand about drivers who blame the pitwall in situations like this.

      Mclaren did something similar to Button a few years ago and in the same situtation the driver didn’t refuse the pitstop.

      1. To be fair, Hamilton did say ‘we win as a team, we lose as a team’ and not said anything negative to his team. Clearly he was pressing for a pit due to mistakenly thinking Rosberg & Vettel had done the same. And possibly Mercedes probably trusted his judgement highly enough not to overrule him.

      2. The driver contributed information on the tyres, as he’s supposed to. Then it’s the team’s decision, obviously, because the driver doesn’t have all the data and doesn’t know where all the other cars are.

      3. But Lewis did not have the same info the team had. It’s not an excuse, they should tell him neither Nico nor Seb had pitted.

      4. From what I have seen /read about it, it was certainly in part Lewis seeing the guys out on the screen, thinking there was something he wanted to counter and asking for a stop that made team decide to bring him in @hairs, @brum55. Maybe if he had asked about his teammate, they would have told him that they had not brought Rosberg in for fresh tyres.

        Surely though, they would have told him to stay out if they had known/figured it would bring him back out behind Vettel/Rosberg.

        Its a mistake as a team, and you win and lose them together as they say.

      5. he can always say “No thanks.”

        A driver has to trust his team. He does not have as much information at hand as his team, and they have all sorts of resources to help them determine the best strategy.

        In short, whatever information Lewis was feeding them, they cocked up. It turned out to have dire consequences. A team at that level should not be making that kind of mistake (which they have done on more than one occasion over the last couple of years, as pointed out in the article).

    2. @bigchrome Dave You and me are the best strategist at the hindsight. Nobody an beat us at that :) But for a fact we should understand this was taken after a series of discussions between Pitwall and Driver.

      To be fair with Lewis, he said you win and lose as a team. I think the problem here is Nikki. He let the team down without full information. He is the one who is thrashing the team the most. He is 1) too passionate about Lewis 2) (Maybe) Did not realize that a conversation happened between Lewis and Pitwall before the team 3) becoming politically correct by distancing himself from the issue and dumping the mistake on Toto and the rest of team.

      I have better respect for Toto and the Mercedes team today compared to Niki. No wonder Ross brawn left. he knew that Nikki will be meddling to much in the operations of the team !!!!!

      1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
        25th May 2015, 9:37

        Niki did in fact know of the conversation between Lewis and the pitwall. I think Arrivabane was right when he said Merc made the decision out of arrogance. The level of risk an unnecessary pit involved far outweighed any potential gain. What if a wheel nut refused to come off, or he was held up by traffic from other pitting drivers? What then? This was a gamble of the utmost stupid variety made a guys who thought they were untouchable.

        Fortunately for them, they only lost 3 points in the grand scheme of things. Even then, the 3 points lost seem like nothing considering they put up 14 more points on their closest competitor. So when Lewis says ‘we win together and we lose together’ sadly, the only loser in this scenario is him himself. No wonder Paddy took time to pose in the team photo beaming like a Cheshire cat.

    3. @bigchrome Why Toto?

    4. RP (@slotopen)
      25th May 2015, 0:30

      You know you’ve messed up bad when all your numbers and analysis lead u to a conclusion that is obviously wrong to even sophomoric fans. I saw it and was confused because it just didn’t make any sense.

      Did they discuss pit and safety car windows pre-race? A processional race with one safety car is normal.

      Plus, it doesn’t feel like they consider the risk of a pit stop going poorly. it doesn’t feel worth it if u already have the lead and good pace.

      1. plus the only threat to Ham was behind your second driver,
        so why even risk pitting Ham,
        pitting Nico would have made more sense because he was the one that could have lost position to Vet..

        1. @lethalnz They thought HAM wouldn’t have lost track pisition had he pitted, while it’s OBVIOUS ROS would’ve had he.

        2. @lethalnz pitting Nico would have made more sense

          seriously? putting you in charge would make “more sense” I guess, hamilton had a 19sec lead, they thought they could get him out before Ros and Vet came around to the front strait. How would bringing in Rosberg make more sense when Vettel was right behind him? Please enlighten me!

          1. If they were not sure , then why did they not do an extra lap ? that way they would have known what the other drivers/teams were going to do .

    5. Mercedes’ decision to bring Lewis Hamilton into the pits on lap 65 of the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix will forever be remembered as the moment that lost him the race – and probably one of F1’s most disastrous pit calls.

      One of F1’s most disastrous pit calls?? Give me a break Keith!

      First of all, have there never been pit calls before that have lost a driver a race? I HIGHLY doubt this is an isolated incident.

      Second of all, it’s so early in the season it’s not as if it’s an utterly vital race, especially considering the pace advantage the mercceded has. Mercedes have pretty much got the WCC in the bag unless Ferrari or one of the other teams can have the mother of all performance improvements. And Hamilton only has Rosberg as competition for the WDC. As far as we have seen since post Spa last year, Hamilton has Rosberg pretty much covered.

      So how exactly is this one of F1’s most disastrous pit calls?

      I’m also disgusted at the reaction from people over this incident. Yes, Mercedes made a mistake that cost their driver a pretty much assured victory, but the driver we’re talking about is Lewis Hamilton. The very same driver who, thanks to Mercedes providing him with the most dominant car in F1 history, now has twice as many F1 titles to his name as when he joined them.

      And speaking of the driver, let’s talk about Lewis Hamilton. He’s had more accidents than any other driver on the grid and subsequently cost his team more points than any other driver on the grid.

      He’s been driving great the last few years but prior to that was a walking car accident. Tell me, how many times was Hamilton referred to as ‘disgusting’ , as Johnny Herbert described Mercedes yesterday, for having an at fault incident? How many of you called for him to be sacked or to resign?

      Yet that’s exactly what’s happening here. The driver makes a mistake and costs himself and the team the race – oh, never mind, better luck next time. The team makes a mistake that costs the driver the race – this is disgusting, stupid, someone should be sacked!


      1. It was a disastrous pit call because Hamilton was completely dominating the race, 20+ seconds ahead on a track where overtaking is practically impossible, it was one of the most certain victories anyone could have ever imagined. And somehow they managed to lose it and end up third.

        While it’s true that people are overreacting when they call for stupid things like “someone should resign”, they are just a vocal minority, most people don’t think like that.

        “He’s had more accidents than any other driver on the grid and subsequently cost his team more points than any other driver on the grid.”
        That is just a straight-up lie. Maldonado, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Vergne, Gutierrez, Sutil, Webber etc. are/were statistically more likely to crash out than Hamilton, even Senna was more likely to crash out (graph. it’s outdated – relevant only up to April 2014 – and Hamilton has only been involved in one incident [Spa 2014] since then).

        There was one year where you could maybe argue he was the most crash-prone on the grid, being 2011 (though could also argue Maldonado/Sutil). But he had no collisions in his rookie year, and while he probably had more crashes than the average driver between 2008-2010, it was no more than 2-3 incidents a year. You could argue that he cost himself the 2010 championship with his two crashes that year, but fact is if he hadn’t been driving so well he wouldn’t have had a chance for the championship in the first place. He still had a chance in the final race, whereas a driver of Button’s calibre didn’t. And since 2011, he has had barely any incidents where he was at fault, the only one I can think of is Brazil 2013. The rest were him being taken out by other drivers.

        1. Interesting graph. I note it doesn’t actually differentiate between the driver being involved in someone else’s accident, or causing the DNF himself. As a predominately front-running driver, Hamilton would be statistically less likely to be caught up in someone else’s accident than one who predominately starts in the midfield.

      2. +1000000000

  2. All those reasons are valid, but track position at Monaco is everything. Why they felt they needed to cover Ferrari, when Ferrari didn’t bring their mechanics out (and Seb was 3rd, he had 2 Mercs to overtake) is something I’m struggling to answer.

    1. It was Lewis who Felt that he needed to cover Ferrari and Nico.

      BTW if Vettel had taken the second place at the start from Nico, we would be having a Ferrari winner today which could have been even more disastrous for Mercedes !!!!

      1. @tmax maybe Lewis wanted to pit, but it’s the team that has to tell him: “nah, mate, they are not pitting”.

        I’m sure it was a joint decision. But the team is the one that has more data. I’m no Lewis fan, nor Merc fan, I’m watching this from a neutral POV. But I really feel the team is the one where the fingers must be pointed at.

        1. Agree with this. Mercedes would have only allowed Hamilton to pit if they thought he would come back out in the lead. As Toto said afterwards, they miscalculated.

      2. Lewis simply told them the tyres will be cold on restart because he thought the others went and put supersofts and will have better heat at the restart. Nothing more nothing less. He didn’t call for a pit he wasn’t insisting on anything.
        So annoying how fans have to twist the truth at everything.

  3. Well it seems they disn’t take into account all of the variables (losing time by catching the safety car), but it also seems like Hamilton forced the issue to pit by raising concerns over the tires.

    Besides, I always thought the driver had final say on when to pit.

    1. When a driver requests for pits then the decision making process swings suddenly stronger to his requests compared to the other way around. The driver has the best feel for the car and that is the biggest variable/factor of them all

    2. Hamilton asked the pitwall if he should pit, because his tyre temperatures were dropping and he thought that might be an issue if Rosberg/Vettel were on fresh supersofts.
      He didn’t demand to be pitted, he merely raised concerns over the tyres. He wouldn’t have even asked about the tyres if he didn’t think Rosberg was pitting, so really the cause of this whole thing was the fact that Lewis saw the Merc pit crew coming out on the television screen, making him think they had pitted Nico.

      And the team has the final say on whether they are pitting or not. Apparently he got a message from the team telling him to pit about 500 metres before the pit box.

      1. Daniel (@dstaplet13)
        25th May 2015, 2:41

        Yeah he might not of explicitly demanded it, but raising his concerns pushed the team to make the decision for him to pit. Had he had no concerns about the tire temps, the team probably would not have pitted him. Of course seeing the pit crew out would impact his decision, it certainly would have impacted my decision if I was in that position (because I would think Rosberg would be pitting).

      2. JayR (@deidunxf1)
        25th May 2015, 9:40

        500 metres on a 3.3km track. He got the call 50m from the pit lane entry. Just a correction.

      3. No, the guy driving the car has the final say. The team can’t make him turn into the pits, nor can they keep him from turning in.

        The team told him to stay out, he complained that his tires would suck, so they reacted to his concern and told him to pit. Had he just listened to the team in the first place, he’d have won the race.

        1. Remember China 2007. McLaren kept Lewis out much longer than needed, he had a flat tyre when he finally came in and lost it in the gravel trap on the pit entry. Had that not happened Lewis likely would have won WDC in his rookie year instead if loosing out to Kimi by 1 point.
          Lewis has to trust the team as they have more info than he does. He’s busy driving the car as fast as possible beating the best if the best. His team have to have his best interests in mind. If not he needs to move on to a team that does. Ferrari have a history of looking after their number one. He’ll be looking that way come 2017.
          Mercedes need a strong team principle that can make snap decisions, someone like Ross Brawn or Ron Dennis, this tri leadership nonsense will be the downfall of Merc.

  4. I also can’t understand why they didn’t instruct Nico to slow down to ensure Lewis emerged in front of him. As Vettel was unable to pass, this would have cost them nothing.

    1. Perhaps because they got bad press for asking driver in second place to slow down in the past race?

    2. Also, why I understand that many are placing blame on Lewis for not ignoring pit orders, he doesn’t know how far behind his rivals, or whether they are doing – unless he has a compelling reason to say otherwise, why wouldn’t he trust that they’ve got it right. They have much more information available than he does.

      1. LOL Since he did question their decision, and wouldn’t trust that they’ve got it right, I don’t know what you are talking about.

    3. @fluxsource Presumably because they didn’t expect Hamilton was going to come out behind?

      1. @keithcollantine as soon as Safety car picked HAM up it was clear he was going to start losing time compared to others driving to min lap time. I understand if it was last sector, few corners to go so no time to decide but no it was in middle sector… They had 40sec possibly…

        1. @ivan-vinitskyy

          as soon as Safety car picked HAM up it was clear he was going to start losing time compared to others

          They didn’t realise the time lost would be enough for HAM to lose the lead.

        2. JayR (@deidunxf1)
          25th May 2015, 9:45

          Also, on top of the 40s. . . add about 10 or so seconds from the time it takes to enter the pit lane to the pit box to tell him to just drive through and explain it later. So in essence they had a little under a minute to rectify this. Again, Merc’s main weakness is reacting to changing conditions. They seem to get caught out every time something unexpected comes up.

          I know Suzuka 2014 is a race every F1 fan would like to forget, but even then they kept out both drivers too long to a point they were losing a few seconds a lap on the chasing field. Luckily for them the lead they had built was substantial enough it didn’t cost them anything.

      2. @keithcollantine I guess so – otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. Although I do hope there was some attempt along the lines of “oh bugger… slow down Nico!”

        1. That assumes that Rosberg is going to immediately obey it. He might have argued if he thought he was being screwed.

    4. Mark (@marlarkey)
      25th May 2015, 10:19

      Nico couldn’t have slowed down because he was required by the safety car to drive to time.

      1. @marlarkey – no, he hadn’t caught safety car yet and time they are given is min time to get through sector, not max time.

        1. He had caught the Safety Car by the time Hamilton exited the pits, though.

  5. The Mercedes pit crew waiting for a while before anyone came in, I guess that’s what Lewis saw on the screens.

    1. I’ve just re-watched the footage from Verstappen’s accident onwards. Assuming the screens around the track show the FOM broadcast (likely), there were two shots of the pit lane prior to Hamilton coming in. One was of a Williams stop (white car, white-suited crew) and one of a McLaren stop (dark car, black-suited crew). Mercedes pit crew have black suits. I wonder whether Hamilton mistook Button for Rosberg when he glanced at the screen.

      1. Michael Brown
        26th May 2015, 2:42

        Before both of those, the first shot of the pit lane was actually the Mercedes crew waiting for someone.

  6. Interesting that the team told him to stay out, but he said that the tyre temperatures would drop, hence, suggesting a pit stop himself. Looks like Lewis also incorrectly assumed that Nico had made a pitstop.

    While you would expect better advice from the Mercedes pitwall, it’s also not completely incorrect to assume that Lewis hinted at pitting himself.

    Hasty and sloppy work from Mercedes

    1. @todfod, Hamilton assumed Rosberg and Vettel pitted. Why else would he have wanted to come in if they remained on track? The only reason Hamilton wanted to come in is because he assumed the other guys pitted and Mercedes did not tell him the others guys were staying out. Mercedes pit wall did no do their job. They are suppose to feed the driver important info…you know things like whether or not Vettel and Rosberg pitted.

      I think people are getting hung up on the tire temps/pressure dropping comment made by Hamilton. The tires in the pits are warmer than the tires on track because they are kept in blankets. If the safety car is going too slow, getting heat into the soft compound tire is going to be harder than pitting for a set of soft tires that are pretty much ready to go the moment they bolted to your car. All Mercedes had to do was tell Hamilton the other guys have not pitted. They are in the same boat as you. For whatever reason, they withheld that info. We will never know what went on over the radio. Its rather bizarre that the radio communication between Hamilton and the team was not aired and that Paddy Lowe seems to be MIA.

      1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
        25th May 2015, 9:47

        Paddy Lowe MIA? Dude was smiling his face off on the team photo post race.

      2. Given that the “discussion” took place shortly before Hamilton had to turn into the pits, its understandable that they didn’t find time to tell Lewis that Rosberg (and Vettel) were staying out. On the other hand, they also didn’t know that Hamilton did think they had pitted Rosberg now, did they @sudd

        Sure, if Hamilton had mentioned pitting “just like Nico” they would have surely told him Rosberg was staying out, but alas, there was little time, the drive told them about his worries about the tyres, and they told him to get a fresh set, surely thinking he had time to come out ahead (Hamilton wouldn’t have even considered not coming out ahead, because he thought Rosberg and Vettel had pitted, so he had no reason to hurry up even if he hadn’t been right behind the SC there.)

  7. What surprises me is that it is dumped 100% as Mercedes fault. Imagine a situation where Lewis had asked for a pit stop. Mercedes said no while Vettel made one and came back with fresh rubber and attacked lewis who had felt his tires are not doing well. Imagine how that would have played out. The crowd would have pounced on saying that Mercedes threw away the race because look at SGP , he came back and took the lead plus he had such a gap. Imagine if lewis had overtaken both. Now they will be apologizing to Nico.

    I only see this as a decision that did not materialize as they thought. Mercerdes apologizing like this itself shows a team which cannot stand with their decision. Niki Lauda is also making it more dramatic and letting the team down.As Lewis said you win and lose as a team.

    I agree this pit stop cost him the victory but there are so many calls like this which hash gone the right way. Similar to Ferrari calling in Alonso in AbuDhabi in 2010 this cost the driver a victory.

    1. Pressed submit before completing the last sentence. “Similar to Ferrari calling in Alonso in AbuDhabi in 2010 this cost the driver a victory. There are a few which will go the other way but that does not mean that the pit wall was entirely foolish. It is taken with a combination of lot a lot of factors.”

    2. Exactly, we know from yesterday that Vettel can do sub 1m16s on low fuel with new super softs.
      Lots of people saying track position is everything but if Vettel had pitted with Ham complaining about dead tyres that could have been around a 5s deficit which is roughly the gap between Merc and Marussia in qually.

      1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
        25th May 2015, 9:51

        Except, Lewis did in fact pit and Lewis could do sub 1m15s on low fuel with supersofts and still couldn’t pass Vettel. All this despite Vettel also complaining of dead/cold tires. People saying track position is absolutely king in Monaco are only speaking facts and truth.

    3. @tmax kind of a strange comment – Hamilton didn’t actually say “I wan’t to come in”. Hamilton doesn’t have live GPS data of all cars including the safety car. Hamilton didn’t know who else was pitting. You think that his comment about old tires was enough to throw the whole team of strategists off balance? I just don’t see who else can be blamed beside the team.

  8. Someone at the team got v-e-r-y jealous about Lewis’ new 3-year contract value.

    1. HAHA- yeah, and Nico had some Monaco intelligence unit hack Lewis’ radio telling him to come in. I’m surprised more people aren’t blaming Nico for this- after last year isn’t it clear that he’s a cheater and will do anything to win??? It is such an obvious plot that at German team wants a German driver to win… Never mind that the team is British and the driver is ??? who knows- he grew up in Monaco.

      The whole thing does remind me more and more of Senna-Prost though. One calculating and strategic and the other emotional and blindingly fast. How much of the call was Lewis’ and how much was the team’s? We will probably never know.

  9. Okay, What lap did the safety car come out? It didn’t wait for the race leader at the pit exit. At one point I saw it letting Jenson by with no sight of Lewis. Was Lewis in the pits then?

    1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
      25th May 2015, 9:54

      Monaco is just a bizzare track to me. It has so may unconventional F1 rules and even then some of them are barely understandable. Can’t do practice starts in the pit lane as it is too narrow. That I understand. But why did the safety car have to meet the leader in the second sector? What’s the point of that exactly?

  10. Hey @keithcollantine it’s not possible that hamilton caught the safety car in the second sector, because at that point it wasn’t called out yet. Mercdes have pitted Hamilton because they thought they had enough time due to it only being a virtual safety car at first, during which Hamilton could’ve easily pitted in time because of the delta time that the virtual safety car gives to the drivers. Just before Hamilton went to the pits the actual safety car was called out and the delta time was cancelled. It was simply too late to react for him and Mercedes to tell him to stay out. Rosberg and Vettel were able to push (at considerable pace of course) in order to get in front of Hamilton. The call from Mercedes itself was actually a good one, but then the race director changed the virtual safety car to an actual safety car and the deltas were no longer in place.

    I hope that clears things up. It’s not the Mercedes strategists fault, not Hamiltons, it was just an unlucky situation.

    1. I’m afraid that isn’t quite correct. The SC finished its first whole lap at the same moment when Massa left the pits. That was before Lewis had entered the pitlane.

  11. Track position is king at Monaco, everyone knows this.
    You don’t come in for tires with fifteen laps to go when you are in first controlling the race with a decent lead at Monaco only under extreme circumstances like a torrential downpour would this even be considered.
    There wouldn’t have been enough time for the team to service both cars either.
    This incident reminds me of Eddie Irvine at Nürburgring 1999 when the Ferrari pit crew only had three tires waiting for him, because they wanted Michael Schumacher to win the title.

  12. The Mercedes Chief Strategist, James Vale has got quite a few calls wrong when the pressure is on.
    Hungary last year is a race that comes to mind.
    I’m not convinced Lewis would have been passed by Vettel had he not pitted during the Safety Car in Malaysia and the team almost gave Rosberg the lead in Bahrain by pitting him before Lewis.
    It seems whoever makes the strategy calls at Mercedes is/are not quite sharp enough and this is whilst the Mercs are pretty dominant. The cracks will be all the more apparent when the Ferrari really closes the gap and regular race deciding calls are required.

    1. Probably to do with 1 guy doing strategy for both drivers. I’m sure better job can be done with each driver getting it’s own dedicated strategist worrying with just best result for his driver.

      1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
        25th May 2015, 9:58

        Just a light hearted question here: Who would get stuck with Vale if each driver got his own strategist? Would prove really awkward if each driver decided to get their own strategist leaving Vale without a post essentially.

        1. I think the bigger concern might be “who gets stuck behind the other in the pitlane” with two strategists and no no.1. driver @deidunxf1

    2. RP (@slotopen)
      25th May 2015, 3:21


  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th May 2015, 23:40

    It’s obviously Lewis’s fault – the guy is just too fast and he paid the price today for being the fastest driver. If he had not built a 20 second lead, they would not have brought in. He just destroyed Nico to the point that even Mercedes, his own team, couldn’t keep up with him.

    He should be awarded 50 points and a Monaco super victory for just being so fast that no one had any clue what was happening:-) That’ll teach him to be the best!!!

    1. Although I know this is a humorous comment, there’s probably some truth in that. If Hamilton didn’t have a pit stop’s advantage over Rosberg, Mercedes would have never cleared him to come into the pits, as he wouldn’t have been able to emerge in the lead. Ironically, Nico losing a bit of time to backmarkers in the laps just before the safety was seemingly what gave him the win.

    2. Well, this applies with the Bahrein race too.
      If you remember, Mercedes delayed his pit stop to do Rosberg’s first so Rosberg could defend himself from Vettel’s undercut.

      Doing so they let Hamilton stay on the track on old tyres long enough to vaporize a 5 seconds lead into nothing. The guy almost was penalized for being to fast.

      Mercedes management is a mess. Wasn’t their cars so good, they would be nowhere.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        25th May 2015, 2:13

        Yep, I forgot about that. That was insane but I think Mercedes is making very questionable calls when it comes to Hamilton’s strategy. At some point, they need to assume it’s not coincidence and talk to that person and explain to him that he has to put Hamilton ahead for 1.5 years to make up for the bad calls in the past otherwise it’s the highway.

        I think he will make the best calls if his job is on the line the next time a decision comes for Hamilton.

      2. Well, it was vice versa in Barcelona.

        1. JayR (@deidunxf1)
          25th May 2015, 10:31

          Vice versa? If anything they screwed over Hamilton (he wasn’t going to pass Nico in Barca) by having a slow first pit stop (can’t remember how slow it really was) nullifying the undercut they were attempting on Vettel. This forced them to siwtch strategies and it robbed Lewis of he chance of even pushing Nico.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            25th May 2015, 15:25

            @deidunxf1 Well said – that race was also decided by Mercedes. Lewis was getting the mop ready:-)

          2. They left Rosberg longer than ideal and he was losing time so that Hamilton would get out from pit ahead of Vettel.

  14. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
    24th May 2015, 23:57

    What happened today just highlights perfectly what I hate about safety car periods, cars being allowed to pit and completely change the running order. Yes, Mercedes today made a choice, a very bad one, but the simple fact is that because of pitting under the safety car the race was completely changed.

    The safety car should be to neutralise the race and make the track safe, that’s it. Yes, they will get bunched up, that is unavoidable, but I’m tired of seeing a random lottery of strategy/pitting under the safety car. Again, I’m very aware that Mercedes made a choice today and nobody forced them to but with the pit lane closed under the safety car nobody would have the option and the race would be neutralised, nothing more. Isn’t that what a safety car is for? To make the track safe, then resume where they left off beforehand? Not an opportunity to make a tactical advantage, or as has been in the past, an opportunity for some guys to get very unlucky because the safety car was out at the wrong place/time and they lost out to others pitting.

    Oh and before anyone accuses me of just saying this because I’m pro-Hamilton, I’m not. Again, it was a choice the made and they have nobody to blame but themselves today. I just generally want to see less races completely changed by strategy and luck under a safety car.

    1. maarten.f1 (@)
      25th May 2015, 7:10

      @weeniebeenie I get your point. But consider this: A driver wants to (or rather needs to, his tyres are pretty much gone at this point) pit at lap 29, he has a 30 second lead, plenty of time for an easy stop. But suddenly the safety car comes out, reducing his lead to nothing, and he’s not allowed to make that pit stop until the safety car comes in. And if this happens to a few drivers, the running order is changed anyway.

      Bottom line is that safety car situations can mess up people’s races. Whether you keep the pit lane open or close it. I prefer it to be open, if teams want to/need to make a stop then they are free to do so. But if they make a bad call, as happened yesterday, then it’s all on them. Nobody told them to pit.

      1. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
        25th May 2015, 15:43

        Tyres don’t go from perfect to shot in one lap though, if his tyres were on the way out he could have stopped in the laps before the safety car. That is his risk, knowing a SC could come out. They would also have to judge it based on the track of course, pushing it at Monaco is obviously riskier than one of the Tilke car parks.

        The safety car can always mess up a race for someone, absolutely. No way to avoid that bunching up of the field. Well actually there is, have everyone instantly start trundling round at a set speed limit, and on the restart they’re still the same gaps apart but that’d never happen, obviously.

        What I just hate seeing are races hugely affected by the safety car like yesterday, whether it was a stupid decision by a team or a good one. For every cock up like yesterday there has been a race where someone has been at the right place at the right time when a SC comes out, pits, and ends up making up a huge amount of places. I mean, does anyone like seeing races decided like that?

    2. No need to mess up with rules any more just because Hamilton couldn’t win.

    3. I’d agree that it highlights how much a safety car can ruin a race, but disagree with your solution.

      The safety car is a waste of everyone’s resources. The VSC will do the job for the vast majority of situations. Where that isn’t enough, I would argue that having the cars going around at any speed is dangerous in itself. Especially, as was pointed out on TV at the time, when they can go faster under the safety car than the VSC.

      I’d say (and I’ll keep arguing for this, even though I know it’s not going to happen) that, where the VSC is not enough, the cars should line up on the grid. The race is neutralised much more quickly, there is no (or at least less) random pit stop advantage. Yes, it still kills any gap a driver has built up, but no more than a safety car. It’s safer for the marshals and the drivers, and it doesn’t waste racing laps running around behind an advertising board… I mean safety car.

  15. Anyone ever notice that Lewis seems to have a habit of meeting disaster in the pits?
    In China 2007, having led most of the race, he slid into the gravel on the pit entry after a disastrous strategy that resulted in his tyres were worn to the canvas causing him to lose 7 seconds to Alonso in one lap. This ultimately cost him the championship.

    In Canada 2008, having led most of the race, Hamilton hit into Raikkonen as he was waiting at the red light at the exit of the pits. As well as losing him a potential win, the 10-place grid penalty he received from this probably cost him at least third in the following race. Given how the championship ended, it was almost extremely costly.

    In 2012, Hamilton lost large amount of points throughout the year to slow pit stops and other pit crew problems – team cost him a chance at victory in Malaysia when the struggled to fit the right-rear tyre, he lost around 15 seconds in pit stops in Bahrain and finished 8th after qualifying 2nd, he lost two positions during the pit stop phase in Monaco after a slow pit stop (dropping from 3rd to 5th), he lost 10 seconds in the pit stops in Valencia which made him wear his tyres out fighting Raikkonen and arguably led to him meeting Maldonado on track and being taken out from third…
    Also there was Spain, where the fuelling guy set the handle to drain fuel in qualifying and after realising, didn’t compensate the fuel load well enough, causing Hamilton to be disqualified from a dominant pole and be sent to the back of the grid, losing a probable win.

    There were more pit stop issues in races such as Austria 2014 and Spain 2015 that seemingly cost him, and now this. Seems like Hamilton’s mortal enemy is the pit lane.

    1. *resulted in his tyres being worn to the canvas.
      My kingdom for an edit button!

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th May 2015, 15:46

      I agree with you – last year’s championship Lewis had to put up with so many issues while Nico seemed to benefit from every one of Lewis’s misfortunes to the maximum. Same thing yesterday – Nico benefited massively from the team’s call.

      But I’m worried because as folks on this forum have pointed out this is 3 times in a row that Lewis has been in trouble. He lost his lead in Bahrain, he had a bad stop in Barcelona that prevented him from catching Nico and now this. Mercedes needs to sitdown with the strategists and force them not to be equal but to make up for 3 races over the season which practically gives Lewis #1 for strategy over the season simply as a make-up session.

      Lewis will not want that but the team does owe it to him in all fairness and they need to pay up. And don’t get me started about 2014 because a DNF in Abu Dhabi would have robbed Lewis of the championship and neither Toto nor Niki’s apologies could have gotten it back for Lewis. Sorry you lost, it’s our fault. Now let’s celebrate Nico’s championship!!!

  16. Order of events

    -Mercedes decide to pit Hamilton and send pit crew to box
    -Box, Box!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th May 2015, 2:14

      Noone’s pitting Lewis, stay out!


    2. I’m not convinced #2 happened, even Hamilton said the team told him to stay out initially.

      1. According to Toto’s statements to Ted (Kravitz) right after the race was finished, #2 actually happened.

    3. If the pit advised Hamilton to STAY OUT *after* the SC was deployed, why they decided to completely disregard their own advice and decided to bring Lewis in a few moments later ? An audio transcript of the team radio communications between driver and team during the VSC/SC period, would definitely shine a light on the matter.

  17. Simply put, the team made the inexcusable mistake of never telling him Rosberg wasn’t going to stop.

    All this talk about tyres and stuff would he forgotten if they had told him Rosberg wasn’t pitting.

    1. Ah, but he also didn’t ask if those behind were pitting..

    2. maarten.f1 (@)
      25th May 2015, 7:13

      No, the crucial mistake was the miscalculation. They figured they’d have enough time in hand to make the stop without losing position. They didn’t need to tell him Rosberg and Vettel weren’t going to stop, because they miscalculated they could make it.

    3. You’re assuming they knew he thought the others had pitted.

  18. What’s more, several of them had smaller margins over their closest pursuers than Hamilton to begin with. Hamilton had a lead of more than 19 seconds over Nico Rosberg when he came in, yet lost the lead to Rosberg and second place to Sebastian Vettel.

    That’s not quite true. All of them held a margin that was higher then the pit loss bar Perez who took the risk of Button not pitting almost right behind him.

    Perez and Button pitted on lap 64 and Button had nobody behind him in the window. Them pitting allowed Ricciardo to pit on lap 65 with no-one in sight behind him and Nasr actually had a high enough gap to Grosjean (some 26s at the end of lap 64) due to the latter losing time correcting his off with Verstappen the lap before. Finally, Massa only had the Manors behind and he was lightyears ahead of them.

    Still, this is just nitpicking. Hamilton also had almost 26s and your point that he lost a lot of time behind the SC in sector 2 is quite good.

    1. What is interesting is whether the team knew how much time he lost by the time he signalled his tyres were going to cool off – he came on the radio mere seconds before coming to the pit entry, so the team had very little time to decide. Certainly, telling him of the actual gap to Rosberg, or why the crew was out in the first place, or asking him why he suggests a stop was not possible.

      It was a split-second decision – and I get the feeling Mercedes knew of the actual, decreased gap if they had time data with more frequent refresh than the live timing. Probably they even had sector 2 gaps available, although that must have been nip and tuck as well.

      1. Actually, according to AMuS, Mercedes didn’t have the gaps for a crucial lag in their delta timing software. So all they had was the near-26s lead and the fact that Lewis lost some time behind the safety car. In other words, the team was effectively blind when it took the decision – still, I feel like they should’ve gone conservative and prioritise track position over the state of the tyres. Rosberg and Vettel would’ve never pitted due to insufficient gaps so worst case scenario, Lewis would have been on equal footing to them on worn rubber.


    2. As a final note, if there’s something the Americans do better it’s exactly the flexibility and adaptability they show in these kind of situation – admittedly, they practice full course yellows a lot more often than their Europeans counterparts do due to their short tracks (their big 2.5-mile ovals are still shorter than most of the European circuits) and lack of run-off areas.

      Still, they realised over the years that pitting right after the cautions fly may lead to teams scratching their heads in confusion, so they sensibly introduced a rule to close pit road for a lap or two until the safety car gathers the field.

      Of course, if such a rule had been in place this weekend and the gaps in the field disappeared even before the pit stops took place, nobody would have pitted in the first place, such is the value of track position in Monaco. But on some other circuits (e. g. Spa, Montreal), this rather more controlled environment might lead to strategies that are less confusing, but still just as interesing.

  19. I stared at my TV In disbelief. Couldn’t watch thereafter, had to switch channels. Still very sore. I can imagine how Lewis must be feeling.

  20. the time they gained catching the Safety Car

    Isn’t this precisely the sort of thing the Virtual Safety Car was meant to prevent? Bianchi’s crash last year wouldn’t have been prevented by a safety car because he wouldn’t have caught up to it by the time he went off. As far as I understand it, the VSC is meant to enforce safety car speeds immediately (at least, that’s the only way it would make sense). If there’s sufficient leeway to allow an 11 second lap delta then it’s not working.

  21. Jess (@justblowingofsteam)
    25th May 2015, 8:58

    Sorry the decision was ultimately the drivers and he pushed the team into making a cock up.
    “The team said to stay out,
    “I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted,” said Hamilton. “Obviously I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting.”
    I said ‘these tyres are going to drop in temperature,’ and what I was assuming was that these guys would be on [super-soft] and I was on the harder tyre.”“So they said to pit. Without thinking I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same.”

    1. they said to pit

      1. Jess (@justblowingofsteam)
        25th May 2015, 16:12

        Correct Patrickl, however that was after the information that he gave saying his tyres were going to be too cold.

    2. It would have helped if Hamilton had said “I’ll do the same as Nico and Vettel”.

      The real question is, how did he phrase his information about the tyres? Did he say “the tyres are cold, I need to stop” or simply “the tyres are cold”?

      1. Jess (@justblowingofsteam)
        25th May 2015, 16:13

        Sharon H; you hit the nail on the head!

  22. I think @keithcollantine summed up everything beautifully. What I don’t understand is why everyone can’t accept that Mercedes made a mistake… All the comments here suggest that Mercedes should have rectified their mistake while at the same time they didn’t realise they had made a mistake. They didn’t know they made a mistake until Hamilton was back out on track, simple.
    This other argument which people are saying its the drivers fault is also interesting, yes Lewis could overrule the team, but being inside the cockpit of a car out on the track doesn’t afford one to know every single gap.
    As keith summed up, Mercedes simply didn’t take all factors into account when calculating the gap Lewis had over Nico before pitting him, it was a case of thinking they had it all worked out and safe, but failing to recognise that the safetycar had picked up Hamilton and thus reduced the gap. In the end it wasn’t by much that he lost out to Vettel, only 3/4 of a car length in the end, that’s what 2-3 seconds maybe that they screwed up? But it turned out to be a significant 2-3 seconds.

    1. The problem of logic here isn’t why they calculated wrong. What the real issue is, is that there never was a logical reason to pit at all.
      You can say others pitted too but the others weren’t in the lead and they didn’t have their teammate behind them.
      What i mean?
      I mean that even if their timing was right and Lewis had enough time to normally pit and come out first, it’s still a bad risk to take a few laps before the end when your car is on the lead and the track is Monaco.
      What if a wheel had a problem being put on? Then everything would have been over and he wouldn’t even come out third. Why take such risk when you are in Monaco and you have another Mercedes in the hands of Rosberg to cover for Vettel.
      Even if Vettel had put supersofts and emerged behind Rosberg, he would have to pass Rosberg and then Catch and pass Hamilton in a few laps in a circuit like Monaco. That is a big ask for Vettel to do.
      The possibility of a wheel going wrong is actually higher than the possibility of Vettel achieving such a thing.
      Unless what they really feared wasn’t Ferrari but the possibility of the Merc drivers fighting for the win in the last laps and in their panic to avoid such a scenario they made a mess of things. Still such fear would be quite an exaggeration from them considering Rosberg wouldn’t have new tyres ether and Hamilton showed no signs of not being able to pull away from him.

  23. Because his team thought he should earn another drivers title, by at least doing a couple of overtaking moves, and not being given one…again?

  24. The best thing to do would be to shut the pit lane down when the virtual safety car or proper safety car is on the track, the only cars allowed to enter the pits under these circumstances is cars that have actually been involved in the incident or accident that has called for the safety car to come out, it they have a dangerous car with bit falling off etc, for all the other drivers the pits are closed.

    1. F1 has been there, it didn’t work. They tried to emulate Indy rules, but even Indycar has done away with it since. It punished those who needed to change tyres / refuel (yep, that was during the refueling era), so people were coming in anyway and penalized or held up at the exit. There were lots of complaints from drivers and spectators alike, so they dropped that nonsense quite soon.

  25. It’s funny how during the post race show Damon Hill said the teams should put more weight on the driver’s feedback when making strategy calls and how true racers know it better than they guys back in the pit with their silly computers. As it turned out, this was exactly the case with the team listening to Hamilton’s bad suggestion instead of trusting in themselves.
    I mean Lewis was never a smart one when it came to strategy. Button consistently beaten him when it came to unpredictable circumstances and general race awareness. This is one of the reasons why he fared so well against him.
    Let’s not forget either how hard it is for the pit guys to deal with Lewis. There were multiple occasions when he disobeyed orders during race, lashed out over a slow pit stop or questioned decisions with a know-it-all attitude and hinting favoritism. During the race heated arguments might be forgiven, but he should know better than constantly throwing underhanded punches at the team after the race, before fully understanding the hows and whys behind their arguments. If I were a pit guy in such a sudden situation needing a split-second decision I would rather listen to the driver than take the heat the media would throw at me again. It’s ironic how this didn’t matter in the end.

    As for his “maturity” at handling the situation… It was more like meekness to me, since he knew he had a significant part of that decision. The media was quick to blame Mercedes and I think he himself was surprised with that, hence not pushing the issue too far like he usually does.

    What I find most worrisome in this situation is however the reaction of the Mercedes top management. I am pretty sure neither Toto or Lauda knew the entire picture at the time of the interviews, yet they were so quick to say sorry and blame team. It was honestly shocking.
    I read a lot of reactions wanting to bring back Brawn and I have to sort of agree with their reasoning. I don’t really care whether the call under Brawn would have been made or not, but what I’m 100% sure about that he wouldn’t put the blame on anyone without seeing the full picture and beg for fan forgiveness like that. I’m pleasantly surprised at how competent the management have been so far even without Brawn and this really gives a credit to his work there. One apparent weakness of theirs is however their failure to properly handle media pressure. Brawn was the master of not falling for loaded questions and he would’ve quickly put an end to all those favoritism-related issues Lewis hinted on and the british media eagerly wrote about last year.

    Lastly, another thing. I know Sky is british and your boy lost, but damn it, stop trying to make all those people who had nothing to do with it (mainly Rosberg & Vettel) feel bad over the issue. A win in Monaco is a win in Monaco. Nobody tries to take it away from Panis or Trulli.

    1. THIS THIS THIS !!!! YES !!!

      It was marvelous piece of comment that reflects exactly what I thought!!!!

  26. The problem of logic here isn’t why they calculated wrong. What the real issue is, is that there never was a logical reason to pit at all.
    You can say others pitted too but the others weren’t in the lead and they didn’t have thir teammate behind them.
    What i mean?
    I mean that even if their timing was right and Lewis had enough time to normally pit and come out first, it’s still a bad risk to take a few laps before the end when your car is on the lead and the track is Monaco.
    What if a wheel had a problem being put on? Then everything would have been over and he wouldn’t even come out third. Why take such risk when you are in Monaco and you have another Mercedes in the hands of Rosberg to cover for Vettel.
    Even if Vettel had put supersofts and emerged behind Rosberg, he would have to pass Rosberg and then Catch and pass Hamilton in a few laps in a circuit like Monaco. That is a big ask for Vettel to do.
    The possibility of a wheel going wrong is actually higher than the possibility of Vettel achieving such a thing.
    Unless what they really feared wasn’t Ferrari but the possibility of the Merc drivers fighting for the win in the last laps and in their panic to avoid such a scenario they made a mess of things. Still such fear would be quite an exaggeration from them considering Rosberg wouldn’t have new tyres ether and Hamilton showed no signs of not being able to pull away from him.

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