How tyre confusion influenced Hamilton’s pit call

2015 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was one of six drivers who pitted when Safety Car came out lap 64 of the Monaco Grand Prix, but he was the only one to lose a position because of it.

Mercedes thought they were bringing Hamilton in for a ‘free’ pit stop to put him on a fresher set of tyres, but it turned out he didn’t have enough time in hard to get out ahead, and to their dismay he fell behind Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

There was some confusion at this stage. Following the crash the Virtual Safety Car was deployed for the first 30 seconds, then a full Safety Car period was declared. And on the timing screens Hamilton’s advantage over Rosberg appeared to increase from 19.1 seconds to 25.7 on lap 64, the figure seemingly inflated by the slower speed they were now circulating at.

Added to this was unclear communication between Mercedes and Hamilton over what his rivals were doing and whether he needed a fresh set of tyres. After the Safety Car was summoned (the Virtual Safety Car boards were displayed for the first 30 seconds) Mercedes sent their crew into the pit lane immediately, which Hamilton noticed.

“I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted,” Hamilton explained. “Obviously I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting.” But Rosberg had not pitted – he had already lapped Verstappen and Grosjean, and was behind Hamilton when the crash happened.

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Hamilton was also concerned how the soft tyres, which had warmed up slowly on the partially-resurfaced Monte-Carlo track, would perform after their temperature had fallen during the Safety Car period. As the radio messages below show, this was a concern shared by others.

Only a portion of the radio messages which are sent between each team and driver are broadcast during the race. After the grand prix Hamilton revealed that before he pitted he had a conversation with the Mercedes pit wall about whether he should come in.

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

Felipe Massa was the first driver into the pits after the crash, followed by Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Hamilton came in next, having been held up by the Safety Car towards the end of his in-lap. Felipe Nasr and Daniel Ricciardo were the last of the six to come in.

As Hamilton headed out of the pits Rosberg had spent an entire lap circulating without the Safety Car in front of him. Although he was lapping well below racing speed he gained enough time to slip ahead of his team mate.

Hamilton returned to the track in close proximity to Vettel, leading to brief confusion over whether he should be in front of or behind the Ferrari. Under the rules this is determined by which driver crossed Safety Car Line Two first, (not ‘SC1’, as Vettel referred to). Hamilton was asked this by his team at one point, and sure enough it emerged Vettel can got there first.

Vettel appears to have tried to lobby for an extension of the Safety Car period under the pretext that his tyre temperatures had dropped too low. It would not be too cynical to suggest Vettel had a lot to gain from reducing the number of laps Hamilton had to make a pass, particularly with DRS inactive for the first two laps after a Safety Car period.

But it turned out he needn’t have worried. A few laps after the race restarted Hamilton reported it was “impossible to pass” the Ferrari. A Monaco Grand Prix victory which had seemed certain a few minutes earlier had vanished.

Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel’s team radio messages from the end of the race

65Tony RossNico RosbergPick up Safety Car. You are the leader at the moment. Lewis pitted. So it’s most important, get those tyres up to temperature, yeah?
65Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonI’ve lost this race, haven’t I?
65Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonNot if they lose all their tyre temp. You’ve got very good [super-soft] on the car at the moment.
67Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonWhat’s happening, guys?
67Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonWe’re just reviewing the video.
67Sebastian VettelRiccardo AdamiI was in front at SC1, I was in front.
67Riccardo AdamiSebastian VettelOK, copy. Stay in front then. OK we can see from the TV, was clear, was clear from us, looking into the videos.
68Sebastian VettelRiccardo AdamiStill a lot of debris at turn one.
68Riccardo AdamiSebastian VettelYeah copy that. OK, stay on the racing line.
69Tony RossNico RosbergJust give us advice on what you can see in turn one. Are thy repairing the barrier? Just give us an idea of how long the Safety Car will be.
69Nico RosbergTony RossNo, doesn’t look like they’re working there.
69Tony RossNico RosbergNo weaving Nico, let these cars get through.
69Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonLewis can you let us know who was ahead when you crossed Safety Car Line Two?
69Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonNico was ahead. I was alongside Sebastian.
69Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonRoger.
70Sebastian VettelRiccardo AdamiThis is like sending swimmers to swim with weights on their legs, this makes no sense. We need at least two, three laps at better pace to get a bit of temperature, I mean this is a joke.
70Tony RossNico RosbergSafety Car is in this lap, Nico. Remember you control the pace.
71Tony RossNico RosbergCheck your brake balance, Nico.
74Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonImpossible to pass.
74Riccardo AdamiSebastian VettelOK good, he is saying that it is impossible to pass you. That’s good. Keep going like that. Keep your head down. Six laps to go.
75Riccardo AdamiSebastian VettelOK another good one, well done, keep doing.
76Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonStrat mode five and you have strat mode two available.
76Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonPlease stop talking to me, please.
VLNico RosbergTony RossWoohoo! Yes!
VLTony RossNico RosbergWell done! Three wins in a row. Well done, mate.
VLPeter BonningtonLewis HamiltonSorry about that Lewis, mate. Just going to have to have a word with the pit wall.
VLRiccardo AdamiSebastian VettelYes, yes, P2, great drive, well done mate. Bravissimo.
VLSebastian VettelRiccardo AdamiGrazie ragazzi, grazie, forza Ferrari.

VL = Victory lap; Lap number refers to which lap the message was broadcast on.
A full radio transcript will appear here later in the week.

2015 Monaco Grand Prix

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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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    46 comments on “How tyre confusion influenced Hamilton’s pit call”

    1. Mercedes thought the gap was big enough like you say but it still doesn’t explain why they didn’t feel the need to inform Lewis that Nico wasn’t pitting. The Ferraris never made a move either and essentially the fact that Lewis had the fresher rubber on should have been enough for them to at least make him aware that he was totally in the prime seat as he was. Had they done that it’s pretty clear that Lewis would have realised hw didn’t need to pit at all.

      1. He never asked what Nico was doing. Hence, they never told him.

      2. Mercedes didn’t inform Hamilton that Rosberg and Vettel hadn’t pitted because they assumed he already knew it. Same way, Hamilton didn’t check with Mercedes if Rosberg and Vettel had indeed pitted because he assumed that it was common knowledge. This was a textbook case of miscommunication, both parties making wrong assumptions concerning the other party’s assessment of the situation.

        1. “Mercedes didn’t inform Hamilton that Rosberg and Vettel hadn’t pitted because they assumed he already knew it. Same way, Hamilton didn’t check with Mercedes if Rosberg and Vettel had indeed pitted because he assumed that it was common knowledge.

          Really ? It seems like you’re assuming too much, as well.

          “I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted“, Hamilton explained.

          “Obviously I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting.” – Lewis Hamilton

          1. I’m honestly not sure what point you’re trying to make, because neither quote contradicts what I said. Yes, Hamilton assumed the others had pitted, but he didn’t tell it to Mercedes. Since he didn’t tell it to Mercedes, they assumed Hamilton knew that the other hadn’t pitted, so they didn’t tell him. Then when Mercedes and Hamilton discussed the latter’s tire situation over the radio, they both drew the wrong conclusion because they were both working on incorrect assumptions.

    2. Monaco track position is king, there is simply no point in pitting for tires at Monaco under safety car where there is fifteen laps to go, the safety car is going to be out for four to fives laps at least.

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

      It seems to me that he couldn’t get information about Rosberg? is it because of the new radio restrictions?

      In any case they missed the trick. As @alan77 says, track position is king. There are too many examples of that.

      1. I don’t think so. I believe it’s allowed to say if someones is pitting. And even so, to solve the matter Mercedes should have said don’t pit.

        1. They said “Stay out”… Which is practically the same thing.

          1. Yet the team gets 200% blame and poor Hamilton is robbed and ruined by his team and deserves a free win and all that…

      2. I think its just that he didn’t think to ask, and his team was unaware that this was (at least partly) the reason why Hamilton wanted to pit @fer-no65. They took him pushing for a stop based on how his tyres feel as enough reason, and given that they misjudged how large the gap was, thought it safe to bring him in.

      3. I thought Senna was Lewis’s hero…. has he never watched Senna keeping Mansell behind him in 1992 when Mansell was 2-3 seconds a lap faster ?

    4. Both at fault, Lewis likes to be in control, he should have asked if Rosberg had pitted, not just assumed from a television screen! For all he knows, they were playing a bluff against Ferrari. Shame though, but mistakes happen.

      1. “he should have asked if Rosberg had pitted”

        Well, I’m not sure if he couldn’t do that because the 2015 radio restrictions clearly state the team cannot answer to direct questions from their drivers.

        1. he can ask about other cars having pitted or not though.

          1. So why didn’t he ask such a simple question ? Would have avoided all this mess.

            I’m looking forward to the release of the team radio audio transcriptions during the SC car period.

            1. @elio @bascb Because he was so close to the pit entry when told to stay out he didn’t have the time to, perhaps?

            2. As @davidnotcoulthard mentions, lets not forget that all of this conversation and thinking about getting in/not getting is is played out within only a short time frame before Hamilton would reach the pit entry @elio.

            3. @davidnotcoulthard @bascb but within that very “short timeframe”, Hamilton had plenty of time to have a peek at the videoscreens at the side of the track, to incorrectly assume that Rosberg (and Vettel) stopped/were about to stop for tires and even to question his team about the “Stay out” advice of the latter.

              Sorry, but I don’t buy it… There’s way too many pieces missing in this puzzle. Like I stated in a previous comment, they (Mercedes or FIA) should provide the full, genuine audio transcript of the radio comms between HAM and his team during the SC car period.

            4. Like I stated in a previous comment, they (Mercedes or FIA) should provide the full, genuine audio transcript of the radio comms between HAM and his team during the SC car period.

              they have no such obligation at all @elio.

              Again, I think that part of why Hamilton was so upset when he realised what had happened (when he came out behind Vettel) was because he must have realised that his assumption had been wrong. It also explains why he was playing the “win together, lose together” card, because he himself knew that it was accurate.

            5. but within that very “short timeframe”, Hamilton had plenty of time to have a peek at the videoscreens

              I’m pretty sure he saw the screens before the “short timeframe” you mentioned.

              Sorry, but I don’t buy it… There’s way too many pieces missing in this puzzle

              …Which is what my usage of the word “perhaps” was for.

            6. @davidnotcoulthard “Because he was so close to the pit entry when told to stay out he didn’t have the time to, perhaps?”

              But he had time to say that his tire temps are dropping, etc? Easier to ask “did Nico pit”.

              I think one issue is – Hamilton wanted to pit. Don’t forget last year he was pretty chuffed they didn’t pit him under the SC.

              Here’s thing I’m really starting to take exception to – people are giving Lewis a pass because “he should be able to rely on the team.” Okay, fair enough, IF that is applied all the time. The team told him to stay out. Why didn’t he rely on the team then? Or in Spain when they said he couldn’t catch Rosberg?

              See, some folks give him a pass from relying on the team, but then when it doesn’t work out, say, well “he’s got to rely on the team”.

              I can also see him not pitting, and because his tires are so cold, etc., being chuffed for not being brought in, and whinging at the team “you should have brought me in….”, even if he goes on to win, everyone would be saying “Merc had the gap they should have brought him in, etc.” (not realizing that in the SC transition it slowed him down slightly, then he was going to be held up for another second as Mehri trundles through the pit… because we would never have seen those little subtleties play out in real time, and then there would be talk that they were setting Lewis up to fail with Rosberg right behind him and maybe switching his tires on faster etc.)

              It looks like he had a clear gap that disappeared in real time in less than 10 or 15 seconds, from around Racassse before diving into the pits. As been pointed out, his lap took him 2’11 and Mehri close behind him took 2’00 and RIC 1’59.

    5. VL Tony Ross Nico Rosberg Well done! Three wins in a row. Well done, mate.

      Really? How did he work that one out?

      1. 3 Monaco GP wins in a row.

        1. Thank you.

      2. Mercedes aren’t to cluey with their maths ;)

    6. I was alongside Vettel

      LOL!!! I think Lewis probably had something in his eyes in this Monaco GP as well. He is seeing things that aren’t actually there. Like Rosberg pitting or him being alongside Vettel.

      1. @evered7 He was alongside VET. VET was ahead though but not by more than the 2014 Indy 500 winner.

        1. @davidnotcoulthard Alongside is probably taking it too far. He would have know he was behind, that was clear to see. But like @coldfly mentions below, he left it in the open to try his luck with the stewards maybe.

          Anyway, I don’t blame him after what happened to him in the race. It could have been said in the spur of the moment as well but it was just funny to hear him say that.

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        26th May 2015, 9:49

        @evered7, that was actually very smart of him.

        He knew by saying ‘I was ahead’ he would be lying.
        By leaving it up in the air he could keep his small hope of jumping Vettel based on a stewards review open.

      3. hahaha maybe he had something in his eye again!!!!!

    7. Please stop talking to me… :)

    8. Perhaps the team don’t always communicate when they pit the other driver first. I agree there was room for confusion, but the team could have said all lead drivers were on old tyres.
      Mercedes just pannicked over nothing and in Monaco of all places.

    9. JungleMartin
      26th May 2015, 10:23

      But where are the radio messages from immediately BEFORE Hamilton pitted? Please.

    10. this one could be telling if you read into it like have:
      Pick up Safety Car. You are the leader at the moment. Lewis pitted. So it’s most important, get those tyres up to temperature, yeah?
      in other words go for it Nico, if you want the win, Hams in the pits and you can close that gap to the Safety car right now.
      Ham Hates TONY ROSS he shy’s away from him every chance he gets when hugging the Mechanics, twice i have seen this, so there is no love between him and Ham, i am sure if anyone was to able to change the result like this then TONY ROSS would do it for Nico.

      1. Tony Ross is Nico’s race engineer, so of course he’s going to tell him the information he needs to maximise his finishing position. His job is to ensure Rosberg finishes as high as possible, including above Hamilton. It is literally what he is employed by Mercedes to do. There’s no conspiracy.

        1. if he was true to the Team he would have told Nico to hold up Vet so they would of had a 1,2. not a 1. 3.
          yes Tony Ross saw it as gain for Nico not a gain for the team it is he and he alone that caused this scenario which put Merc in this predicament no one else.

          1. Why didn’t you tell Rosberg to back off to into the first corner when Hamilton was coming out to get him past Vettel?
            “Because the Sporting Regulations say you cannot drive “unnecessarily slowly” behind the Safety Car.”

            1. we are talking less than 3sec’s here hello,
              plus it seams like a conflict of interest when you have Toto say we win together and loose together don’t you think?

            2. Rosberg is part of the team and they won the race with him. Team doesn’t necessarily mean only Hamilton. They give the best possible setup for both the racers and it is upto them to make use of it.

              They drive to a delta under SC and any un-necessary tricks by Rosberg would have definitely been reported by Ferrari/addressed by FIA. And if Rosberg was going slow intentionally, Vettel would have been side by side just leaving enough gap to ensure Rosberg was indeed first. Hamilton would still be third then when he came out of the pits.

    11. With the points difference down to 10 points this sets up a European stint (bar Canada) where I, for one, hope it’s as up and down as it was last year.

      I am predominantly a Hamilton fan but I would rather see a good battle for a championship between drivers in the same machinery. We’ve often had a car which dominates but it’s completely different when the two drivers are almost equal.

    12. What I think is interesting is this – Mercedes, like every F1 team, employs a team of strategists who are working in realtime to constantly have a set of options (choices, not the softer tyre compounds..) available at all times. That is to say, they’ll be constantly monitoring the race, at least one for each car, so that they can always have an answer to the question ‘if the safety car came out right now, what should car X do?’. It sounds like that’s exactly what happened when the safety car came out – the strategist informed the race team that right now, both cars should stay out and so both cars were told to stay out. If, at that point, Hamilton had simply listened to what he was told, he would have won the race. However, because he had thought he’d seen something on the screens, he thought he’d been given the wrong call and effectively told the team he wanted to come in. That puts the team in a position where either the chief engineer, race engineer, or team principle, needs to make a judgement call whether or not to disregard the advice of the strategists – there’s not a lot of time to make a call like that, so there’s no time to go back and forth and ask Hamilton his reasons, have a long discussion about the strategies of the other cars, or to go back to the strategists to ask how this would affect the race. They might only have a few seconds to decide and in that second they decided to give Hamilton what he wanted, potentially without access to all of the information they needed. It was a mistake, undoubtedly, but it wasn’t a howler of a call – the call was the right one: stay out – it’s what happened after that call was made which messed things up, and in that respect a significant part of the blame lies with Hamilton. Because ultimately even if Rosberg and Vettel HAD pitted, all it would have meant is that they would have been then behind the Red Bulls, even further away from Hamilton and even les likely to mount a challenge. For Hamilton to see the screens and think that he was potentially vulnerable shows that he was not understanding what was happening in the race – he was leading, and any pitstops made by anyone behind him would simply ensure that they were even further back.

      The lesson to all of this – just go with what the strategist says when it comes to split second decisions. It’s what they’re employed to do. If you ignore them, either as a driver or an engineer, or team boss, then you are probably going to end up losing out.

    13. i do have another question of keith…why is it that we have only seen a very small selecion of the pit/car/pit comms? why are we being kept in the dark? do you have access or is access being withheld? thanks….

    14. If Britney was a genius, he knew exactly how to create a gap to Lewis (obey team strategy) but JUST enough to put Vettel between (beat Lewis double time).
      Just like last year when he could not be blamed for qualifying mistake.

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