Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2017

Hamilton says he couldn’t have used different strategy to win

2017 Australian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says it wasn’t possible for him to execute a strategy which might have helped him win the Australian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver led the opening stages of the race but dropped behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen when he pitted. That eventually allowed Sebastian Vettel to make a later pit stop and rejoin the race ahead of Hamilton.

2017 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
But Hamilton said it wasn’t possible for him to delay his first pit stop long enough to come out ahead of Verstappen.

“No I think I executed the strategy that I had,” he said. “I only stopped a lap earlier than my target.”

“I couldn’t go any further, I basically used up all the money that I had in those tyres.”

He indicated the team will have to work on its race set-up to improve tyre performance in future races.

“And I think the set-up, there’s things we’re going to have to change for the next time to make it better.”

Hamilton said it was “great” to have “a race on our hands” with Ferrari in 2017. He had predicted they would be strong before the weekend began but this was interpreted by some as him playing down expectations.

“Well I don’t lie, and I’m not really good at bluffing or calling the bluff or playing poker,” he explained.

“I didn’t really know how quick they were going to be in the race. The pace they obviously showed in testing was true.”

“And today their speed, especially in that first stint on the ultra-soft tyres, was fantastic. To be honest my real strength wasn’t until right at the end of the race but it was far too late by then.”

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Keith Collantine
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23 comments on “Hamilton says he couldn’t have used different strategy to win”

  1. I don’t care how bad that car eats through tires, it was nowhere bad enough to go for a pit stop this early. Some cars did almost 40 laps on those tires.

    1. @ivan-vinitskyy That doesn’t really go together, does it? You cannot “not care” and then state how some cars were doing a lot more laps on them.

      But did anyone else notice that even though Red Bull was at least 1.0-1.3 seconds off the pace in qualifying, in the race it was much closer to 0.5 seconds on the same tyres. And beyond that… Red Bull seems to be a very easy car on the tyres, Max did his last stint on the Super Soft tyre the same length as Kimi did on the Soft and there was not one bit of degredation. So if Red Bull can find a bit of raw pace in the next couple of races, we might see a 3 way battle the rest of the year.

      1. @addvariety I’ll clarify. I care about actual facts about tire usage that tell us whether some strategy was good or not. What I don’t care about is what Lewis thought about his tire life. Normally what driver says is valuable but here I think he just got it wrong with his estimation and team listened to him even though they had more data.

        1. But you have no data, why should we listen to your opinion?

        2. The fact is he was in the car raceing and you weren’t.
          So we believe you over the actual driver who’s done many laps of testing, practice, quali and then the race and said the tires where off.
          Some people !!!!!

    2. his car was broken, nobody is saying anything, or the team screwed up his setup. He was complaining about setup on the warmup lap. He never got a fair shake at the race, and that seems to work well for Mercedes who have a lot invested in to this 2 hour commercial.

      1. *complaining about grip

  2. Ferrari could of undercut him or over cut him. The pace advantagevopens up the strategy decisions and on this day Ferrari were just too much for Merc. Hope the same is true for the following 19 races.

    1. Yeah, because a Ferrari domination is so much better than a Mercedes one.. Lets just hope for a close season, where not one team will dominate!

    2. Mercedes could have made ferrari work for it. Now merc just gave the position to ferrari on silver platter. It was an obvious mistake to pit so early. Not because you lose your position advantage on track but because when you come out you end up behind slowers cars. I saw it immediatelly that lewis’ chance for p1 was over when he came out behind verstappen. And I’m sure lots of other people saw that instantly as well. It was clear cut mistake.

      Could lewis have kept vettel behind him to the end of the race? Possibly. Passing was not just a press of a button so vettel might not have been able to make the move if the under/overcut did not work. Although it was very likely the overcut would have worked so it is kinda moot point.

    3. They could not over cut him without the help of traffic – Hamilton had Vettel covered until he hit Verstappen.

      1. He could,because hamilton was struggling with grip,he was losing grip,and vettel saved his tyres better than hamilton,so if hamilton didnt go for pit stop,would been overtake by vettel within 5 laps later,he was getting near to hamilton by 0.3 second per lap

  3. Error of judgement perhaps

  4. Even if the tyres he was on were shot he should have tried to keep the Ferrari behind him on the track. I don’t think Mercedes will be making that mistake again.

    1. Yes, Hamilton was held up by Verstappen, but… Hamilton came back behind Verstappen after pitting as the leader of the race. Vettel was 2 behind Hamilton and came out in front of Verstappen. So either way, he would’ve had to pit later in order to stay in front. Even after Verstappen pitted, Hamilton couldn’t catch up.

  5. I think Hamiltons main problem was if he stayed out to make sure he cleared verstappen that would open up the undercut to Ferrari. Looking back it’s easy to say that was the better option and let vettel get stuck behind verstappen but at the time we didn’t know if the under or over cut would work better and we didn’t know how hard Max would be to pass. Fact is that Ferrari is a quick race car and I think it was a bit of a shock to Mercedes when Hamilton couldn’t just drive away. Looks like it could be an interesting season. I just hope we see some good on track action and it’s not just a race to the pit stop.

    1. lt was a knee jerk reaction from Mercedes and over reaction by Lewis.
      It’s the sort of wrong decision Ferrari would make in 2016.

    2. I think we can know from experience that Verstappen will never be easy to overtake though, don’t we?

      I think Mercedes could have made the race a lot harder to win for Ferrari by keeping Hamilton out.

  6. Considering the huge amount of pace Hamilton seemed to lose (going from leaving Bottas in the dust at the start to having him crawling all over the back of him by the end), I get the impression he had an issue of some sort. Perhaps the Mercedes is very sensitive to set up or track condition changes.

    Still, the Mercedes and Ferrari seem quite well matched so we should get something of interest this year, though it may not involve as much overtaking as we’d hope (it did take Alonso’s car to have a failure before Ocon could overtake him, after all).

    1. @wildfire15

      Hamilton stopped a lot sooner than Bottas so Bottas had the advantage in tyre life. Hamilton also lost most of his advantage to Bottas behind Verstappen. After the pitstops Bottas was 5 seconds behind Hamilton.
      When they were both in clean air Bottas was only gaining a couple of tenths a lap.

  7. Mercedes should have shadowed Ferrari, Ham was able to maintain a 1.5s advantage over Vet and had Vet pitted first, it’s unlikely he would have made up that 1.5s on the outlap. Happy to see Vettel win though, so it’s all gravy.

  8. This is a combination of Singapore 2014 and definitely Monaco 2015. Ham was seeing ghosts by thinking his car was worse than reality and merc getting complacent by relying too much on metrics instead of experience and gut feeling. Perhaps because they’ve never had much experience being threatened on pace that they assumed that the can just breeze ahead of vers and they lost big time. I admit their race engineers have infinitely more data to use to determine the best strategy but they let Hamilton’s pessimism get the better of him. They will definitely learn from this, especially on the fact that their car is pretty garbage in dirty air and hopefully bono can help Lewis quell his inner ghosts more since there will be many more races like this.

  9. I don’t know, he started losing pace in lap 14, just like everybody else, but other drivers at front stayed out and averaged a decent one after his stop, he didn’t try.
    I can’t avoid thinking that other drivers tested this year’s Pirellis extensively during 2016 and when he was required to do so first he was doing a tantrum because of his accident in Spain with Rosberg and refused, and went he was required a second time he suddenly had a “foot injury”. I don’t know in pre-season testing but on Friday he didn’t took the tyres beyond the point where he stopped in the race. Can it be that he lacks the understanding of these tyres than other drivers already have by having testing more with them?

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