Hamilton says he left strategy choice to his team

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap times and fastest laps

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Lewis Hamilton revealed he let his team choose what would be the best strategy for him when he made his final pit stop in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver has been at odds with his team over strategy decisions in recent races. During today race he was heard several times on the radio asking about his strategy, particularly around his final stop of the race.

However Hamilton told reporters afterwards that in the end: “I left the team to make the call because I didn’t know what was the right one.”

Hamilton had been lapping significantly quicker than race-leader Nico Rosberg until his team mate made his final pit stop on lap 32 (see below). On fresher tyres Rosberg sooner began to catch him again but Hamilton didn’t realise how quickly, and after Hamilton pitted for the last time he was surprised how far ahead Rosberg now was.

“Ultimately I don’t know the big picture,” Hamilton explained. “You have to rely on the engineers to give you the optimum strategy at the point.”

“Honestly I don’t really understand it but as I said I came out 11 seconds behind and had a mountain to climb. I pushed as hard as I could and then the tyres went off.”

However Hamilton did think he could have made his second set of tyres last until the end of the race had he nursed them all the way.

“I think if that was ever an option before perhaps I could have made them last,” he said. “But I was pushing for a while. At the time I pitted, for sure, I couldn’t have taken them to the end – I had taken too much out of them. But if I’d opted for that earlier on I think I might have been able to stretch it to the end.”

Hamilton was also unsure he could have used the faster super-soft tyres for his final stint of the race.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked if he should have used the soft rubber. “At the end of the day the gap was way too big.”

“We left it too big. Particularly on the same tyres, there’s no way you’re going to be able to catch that gap up. I did everything I could, pushed as hard as I could. It’s a shame because I was quicker in the mid-stint. But to have that pace and then to come out 11 seconds behind, that’s not such a great feeling.”

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap times

All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded):

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fastest laps

Each driver’s fastest lap:

Rank Driver Car Fastest lap Gap On lap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’44.517 44
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’44.550 0.033 48
3 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’44.796 0.279 52
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’44.942 0.425 47
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’45.356 0.839 37
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’45.746 1.229 40
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1’45.859 1.342 47
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’45.892 1.375 30
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’46.305 1.788 46
10 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’46.424 1.907 46
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’46.464 1.947 45
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’46.517 2.000 48
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’46.882 2.365 27
14 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’46.984 2.467 33
15 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’46.998 2.481 38
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’47.064 2.547 29
17 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’47.509 2.992 29
18 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 1’49.610 5.093 53
19 Roberto Merhi Manor-Ferrari 1’51.213 6.696 26
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes

2015 Abu Dhabi 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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30 comments on “Hamilton says he left strategy choice to his team”

  1. I was reading this and then: Am I hallucinating? A Mclaren being 3rd fastest? I did not notice that. Did Alonso stopped for fresh tyres at the end?

    1. Yep. He took fresh tyres with 6 laps to go. Still 3 tenths slower than Vettel who set his fastest lap about 4 laps earlier (that is about three or four tenths seconds) and he also set it on his 8th lap on SS while Fernando set his on 4th lap (perhaps another 2 tenths there).
      Also, Alonso may have used all his boost on that one lap compromising the previous lap (adding another 4 tenths for that at least).
      So, in race-trim on identical tyres and identical track, the Mclaren is at least 1.3 seconds slower than Ferrari.

      1. Yes, Fernando definitely used full power on his fastest lap. He was just cruising the two laps before his fastest, 20+ seconds off the pace in those two “preperation laps”.

  2. Several times this year when Niko have pole and win din’t get the fastest lap and loses the hat-trick !

  3. However charmingly Herr Wolf might say it he denied the fans a chance for a “fight to the finish”! He claimed that Lewis chose to go on to the primes and not super-softs. Lie ! All they were interested in was another 1,2 finish. If this corporate greed continues, I, for one, will lose interest in the sport.
    (Also thanks to the BBC for swapping channels- so missed start of race! ( Was recording it))

    1. So you are saying you don’t believe Wolff, but you believe Hamilton.

  4. So Lewis loses last race, and it was the team’s fault that didn’t allow him to pursue an alternative strategy. He loses this one trying an alternative strategy, and again, it’s the team’s fault.

    1. But it was a strategy that was always going to fail. It made no sense to keep Hamilton out that long unless he was going on the super soft for his last stint. Basically that strategy could only help rosberg win and Hamilton finish 2nd.

      1. But that’s exactly Toto said to him after the last race! That the fastest strategy if the race is smooth (no safety cars) is the one the team chooses and that he should stick on that, because not only he can’t beat his Rosberg but even compromises the second place.

        1. You’ve missed the point completely.

          1. Why don’t you enlighten me?

          2. No, you did Traverse.

            Nico was on the best strategy in both races (Which is correct, as he was ahead). In neither race was there a strategy that would have put Lewis ahead. Last race, they keep Lewis on the optimum strategy, because it was faster. This race, they tried an alternative.

            They have tried both solutions to the problem.

          3. No you did mike.

            Hamilton was faster on the preferred strategy! 7seconds down to Drs when on softs. Hamilton was bad on super softs so would of had a much better chance of pitted the next lap. His super softs were never going to work. Also everyone knew that he was never going to catch nico on softs thermal degradation is killer when you push these tires they went off so quick that he fell back with ten lap newer tires after they had been pushed.

  5. I think this is just another example of how F1’s overtaking gimmicks aren’t working any more. There is only one winning strategy and the teams now know the tyres well enough to be able to work it out. For sure, one team’s car might be “kinder” to its tyres than another team’s car but you can see that most front-running teams applied basically the same strategy to both cars (Williams, Force India, Red Bull) and only those, who had nothing to lose (like Manor) or were far ahead (like Mercedes) could afford to experiment with their strategies (Vettel was obviously a specific case).

    I believe that Hamilton could not win this race after the first lap and that Mercedes played with their pit stops a bit just to show that they were ready to give Hamilton an opportunity to try something different even if they knew that it was pointless.

    1. The problem for me and many others is he didn’t need something different. He took 7 seconds out of Rosberg on the first soft stint and was about to overtake. He would have easily put up a stronger challenge had they pit him the next lap. You can follow and overtake on this track it’s much harder in Brazil and Mexico. You said yourself it was a pointless strategy and Hamilton was just about to overtake so why do it…?

      1. What I saw was that after Rosberg pitted he immediately lapped about 1s faster than what Hamilton was doing, so Hamilton wouldn’t be able to come out in front of Roberg if he pitted right after him. He would come out about 2s behind. Since Rosberg’s graining problems were solved, Hamilton wouldn’t be faster anymore, just like at the beginning of the first stint: he would fall back again or simply degrade his tires on Rosberg’s wake. They did well in trying a different thing.

    2. Personally I think that what we are seeing is the next step in the evolution of F1. In the past it was mostly about the drivers and each one had a strategist trying to get the best result for the driver and by default the team. Mercedes have turned that into more of a corporate exercise where it’s not about the drivers but the team and they have a single strategist trying to get the best result for the team. For Mercedes the drivers don’t matter and the cars could be driver-less as they are not a part of the equation. This flies in the face of what “traditional” race fans expect but they too are no longer a part of the equation.
      The thing to fear is that this approach will be adopted by the other teams and where imitating the leader is a large part of most sports, it seems like we may see more teams adopt the same principle. More and more we’ve seen races become an exercise in managing the variables based on information from the engineers rather than “pure” racing and I don’t see that changing anytime soon unless there are dramatic rule changes designed to remove the influence of the pitwall from the races.

      1. I agree with your opinion.

      2. Yes, but considering that both drivers will be on the same strategy, they’ll have to win in their own merits (and not on their strategist’s merits) which, looking at it that way, seems perfectly fine to me. Now they only have to find a way for allowing proper overtaking, which I hoped would come with 2017’s set of rules, but it seems it will only make it worse….

  6. kieth im not suprised you missed out the part where lewis said he didnt know why they left him out for so long after closing the gap to a second.pitting lewis a lap or 2 after nico pitted was lewis best chance to win the race.

    1. I don’t know what assumption you’re making about something being “missed out” but there’s more on Hamilton’s strategy here.

  7. It seems everyone is losing sight of the fact that effectively, between the Mercs, the race is won on Saturday and off the line, Lewis is simply not nailing the quali when it counts. Rosberg is and he’s nailing the starts.

    Mercedes are being consistent and applying the same team strategy regardless of who is in front. Seems completely fair to me.

    Lewis just lost a bit of motivation since bagging the title. It remains to be seen if he wants a fourth title as much as he wanted the third. If he does, it’s safe to say we’ll probably see a repeat of 2015 – between the Mercedes at least…

    1. I don’t know if you watched the race today but Lewis did not get the same strategy and it was not his choice he was fast on the soft tires (he was slower on the super softs) he took 7 seconds from Rosberg then they pitted then left Hamilton out to dry it was never going to work he was clearly faster on softs and unlike Mexico and Brazil you can follow and overtake here. Yes Hamilton is not delivering on Saturdays but that’s besides the point. He was the faster man at the time they changed his strategy.

      1. Lewis declined to decide on strategy, he had the choice. He chose to give the team the choice. The team decided that was the best strategy to give him a shot at getting ahead.

        Being able to catch Rosberg and being able to pass him are two very different things.

        1. SO you think the best strategy was to keep Lewis out so long on used tyres while a gap reduced from 22 secs to about 15 seconds?

          You are honestly saying that

          1. Apparently you don’t get how this strategy works…

    2. Lewis got close to Rosberg when Rosberg’s tires begun to grain. After the pitstop it was probable that we’d see Rosberg go away again like he did at the beginning of the first stint. The best chance Lewis had was to try something different, out of Rosberg’s wake, I guess.

  8. It’s great when Rosberg beats Hamilton as Hamilton comes across much better when his head is in proportion to his body. Maybe Merc can put him in cryofreeze between races so when he wins the title again next year we do not have to hear him.

    1. Strategy?
      What strategy?
      Strategy is just another way of coaching via radio in F1.

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