Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Hamilton preferred a later pit stop in fight with Ferrari

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said he wanted to delay his pit stop in the Australian Grand Prix because he was wary of the threat from Sebastian Vettel.

The Ferrari driver beat him to victory by making his pit stop later and taking advantage of a Virtual Safety Car period which meant he lost less time in the pits compared to his rival.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
Hamilton said Mercedes “don’t fully understand” why Vettel was able to get ahead of him. “They couldn’t give me an exact reason as to why it was the way it was.”

“I can’t really say how I feel about it but it was obviously not the easiest. It’s never easy to lose a grand prix. But there was so many positives to take away from this weekend.”

However Hamilton pointed out they had an opportunity to be further ahead of Vettel before pitting. Hamilton was brought in immediately after Kimi Raikkonen pitted, but he was more concerned about keeping Vettel behind.

“What I felt I could have done is I’d looked after my tyres really well and I could have gone further. I personally like to always go further.

“In my mind I was racing Sebastian. The Ferraris are always going to play one off the other. There was two of them so there’s two aces, one guy which forces you to protect yourself from the undercut, but the other guy’s in the clear. In my mind I was like ‘look out for number three’, because that’s who I think I was racing.

“But Kimi drove fantastically well. He was quicker all weekend. I’m not convinced that Sebastian did a good lap yesterday and so I think dimmed their performance through qualifying I think their performance is better than what it looked.”

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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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  • 39 comments on “Hamilton preferred a later pit stop in fight with Ferrari”

    1. Typically Hammie

      1. What having good racing instincts? Yeah it is pretty typical he’s probably one of the best.

        1. Everyone’s instincts are perfect an hour after the facts. Would be best not to mention that you knew better than your team, unless you actually said it on radio.

          1. It’s comments like this that make it hard for me to like Hamilton.

            1. The crowd did not like him either on the podium. It is a bit off saying this after the event unless he really said this on the team radio at the time? Only radio I heard from him was his hollywood movie style comment he was going for it then went straight off at the next corner, he put a smile on many peoples faces today.

          2. We did hear him say something on the radio, in fact that might be what triggered the question @krommenaas,@alex

            1. In that case, well done to him and he’s right to mention it!

          3. Even I knew covering off kimi was stupid, ferrari were never going to make kimi their first choice for the win

      2. Also typical that his comments will be taken out of context and that he should not offer his opinion. He should just shut up and drive. 😏

    2. Honestly, this balances his luck out with seb with the vsc in Spain 2017

      1. @f1fan-2000 And safety car in China 2017 which cost SV a win.

        1. @mashiat You mean when Vettel made a stop under VSC when almost no one else did because it was a bad call to make a stop at that time?

      2. @f1fan-2000 You have got to be kidding. Ferrari lucked into this VSC. How is that comnparable to the way Mercedes played Ferrari in Spain 2017? Vettel could have taken the stop too, but he didn’t. Mercedes waited till the end and then Ferrari couldn’t respond anymore.

        A bit of sheer luck doesn’t “balance” out a masterful strategic play.

        1. Vettel could have taken the stop too, but he didn’t

          No, Vettel couldn’t have taken the stop under VSC as it was too early to switch to the slower tyre. Hamilton could as he was done with his slower tyre stint before the VSC.

          The real masterful strategic play was realizing this handicap of Ferrari and hence timing Hamilton’s stop right at the end of the VSC period. It wasn’t just pitting under VSC, but pitting on the last lap before VSC that won that race for Hamilton.

          Of course, I don’t disagree with you on Ferrari being lucky today, it really was lucky and 9 out of 10 times, it wouldn’t have worked.

          1. most people here thinks Ferrari expected a SC/VSC… question: does that make two haas (ferrari customers) way too suspicious to go out one after the other? Also did they expect vsc to last that long until vettel could pit? and deploy the real one right after? yup so much conspiracy but only that would explain to keep vettel out that long esp when he was loosing 0.5-0.7 secs a lap… which would mean his only stop would be in jeopardy to drop him even further had this vsc/sc came a lap after he his pitstop… which begs the question either they knew when the vsc was gonna come, or they were stupidly lucky!

            1. by stupidly lucky, i mean people think it was a great strategic call…. unless they knew when the vsc was gonna come, they had the chance to drop one and possibly more places when it was guaranteed… it is one of the ferrari’s silly gambles to take it all or nothing… instead of playing the long game…

              i doubt lightning will strike the same place twice!

    3. Hindsight, it’s a wonderful thing.

      1. Hindsight yes, but You could’ve argued that if they had no significant tire degradation at the moment, where Kimi pits, Merc should’ve let Hamilton continue longer, exactly because of the risk of Vettel being able to pit afterwards under a VSC or SC period. So in my mind the VSC didn’t hand Vettel the victory, Ferrari won it by wisely playing their 2 cards vs. Merc one card – and of course they had the luck with the VSC, coming to them before Vettel had to pit anyway.

    4. @palle It’s odd because usually they do let Hamilton continue for as long as he can. They know he’s a master at preserving his tyres (when he’s controlling the situation).

      1. @patrickl Kimi showed strong race pace in first stint. The undercut threat is well justified. I think covering Kimi is still best play without the benefit of hindsight.

        1. @sonicslv Perhaps, but Hamilton has been in this situation before and they did let him run longer then. At the very least they could have let Hamilton run the tyres harder when the pit window was coming up to pull more of a gap.

      2. This is why pit comms need to go. Kimi didnt want to come in either and was even being told what times he should be doing after the stop.
        Give them all the options and liekly outcomes on their tyres before the race and let them make their own minds up. This would be more entertaining than sprinklers on the circuit.

        Apparantly Lewis was also being held back pre the VSC to look after his tyres.
        Not taking anything away from the cards Ferrari played though. Vettel better than looking after his tyres today than Lewis it seems

        1. Makes sense that Ferrari sacrificed Raikkonen’s strategy to aid Vettel. They do that all the time.

          1. Yeah, Monaco was really annoying last year, calling Kimi in from the lead and putting him into traffic and then leaving Vettel out until it was safe for him to pit. So blatant :(

    5. Yeah but then there was the serious risk of Raikkonen undercutting, especially as Raikkonen I think did the fastest 2nd and 3rd sectors on his outlap (definitely at least 3rd)

    6. But in the official press conference Lewis said that he was sliding around and that the gap to Seb was shrinking and he had to come in: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2018/3/fia-post-race-press-conference—australia.html
      Maybe the Merc Press Officer had a talk with him between the first statement and the Press Conference:-)

      1. That report is actually from the 2017 race. Hamilton did not say that about this years race. Someone at the FIA or on the formula 1 website has messed up. The podium part is correct but the press conference transcript is wrong for instance:

        1) Podium classes this as Sebastian 48th victory, press conference says 43rd (It was his 43 last year)
        2) “Q: Then Sebastian said he felt he pushed you into the pits” Clearly 2017 not 2018
        3) They interview Valterri (who was third in 2017, and very much not 3rd in 2018)

        Maybe the Merc Press Officer had a talk with him between the first statement and the Press Conference:-)

        Nope, just talking about two entirely different races.

        1. @palle FYI Martin is right – the press conference transcript issued by the FIA immediately after the race initially contained a portion of the transcript from last year, and was later corrected.

      2. @palle Makes blaming the team for the wrong strategy doubly silly.

        Had they followed ‘his’ strategy wishes Raikkonen would likely have been ahead anyway so the whole thing makes no sense.

    7. I think maybe it’s time for change in the strategy director. Merc threw several races away due to poor strategy such as Monaco 2015, Bahrain last year and now this….too much reliance to a computer instead of instinct and experience

      1. Oh that poor Merc team. Definitely better change it up. Seems they could have done so much better these past years.

    8. This just shows how important it is to have BOT up front. After bottling it in qualifying, I think going forward he should be conservative in qualifying. The Mercedes is a beast in qualifying and he is guaranteed a spot in the top 4 every race.

      1. What it shows is that they’re lousy following in dirty air and can only win from the front. Ah *memories*

        1. Like Ricciardo could get past Raikkonen. Or Raikkonen past Hamilton.

          1. Yes, it’s not only mercedes, some driver said, and seems he was right, that you need a 2 sec advantage to overtake here, now it’s not exactly 2 sec based on some ricciardo overtake on renault, but still, much more than the gaps between top 3 cars.

    9. Hamilton’s old enough to make his own calls. His instinct was right: he should have been mirroring Vettel, not Raikkonen, because his rival over the season is going to be the former. Plus giving up track position when the tires aren’t demanding it is a no-no.

      1. He made his own call later in the race, and he went off track, maybe his instincts arent that great after all.

    10. Kimi (and others) was also compromised by the VSC but no one including Kimi is squealing about it.

      1. a) Kimi didnt lose a race WIN through sheer luck.
        b) He was asked the question and he answered it. He pasted Seb this weekend and everyone knows the least deserving driver won today.

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