Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

Hamilton: Pitting under the Safety Car “was not the right decision” at the time

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton backed Mercedes’ decision not to bring him into the pits during the Safety Car period in yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

What they say

After the race Toto Wolff admitted bringing Hamilton in would have been the correct thing to do. Red Bull brought both their drivers in including Max Verstappen, who was running in front of Hamilton at the time.

Hamilton also queried the decision on the team’s radio during the race. Here’s what he said when asked about it afterwards:

It doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t matter now, it’s done and we move forwards.

The team made the decision, I would’ve fallen behind Kimi. At the time we didn’t know the others were going to their collisions and all that stuff ahead so at the time it was not the right decision.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Comment of the day

Sebastian Vettel complained the Virtual Safety Car wasn’t used yesterday – but is it needed at all?

I’d rather see the end of the VSC entirely. The full Safety Car is a lot easier to understand and, yes, it makes for a more entertaining race.

I am sure it is also safer, and that is the reason for these periods in the first place!
David

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Author information

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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  • 38 comments on “Hamilton: Pitting under the Safety Car “was not the right decision” at the time”

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      16th April 2018, 1:13

      Well, Mercedes couldn’t do it because of Bottas, they would have had to give Lewis the victory. Lewis doesn’t want that either.

      But not smart to lose the victory to Red Bull either. Red Bull should have finished P1 and P2 today. Lewis stopped Max and also led to Vettel falling behind.

      Without Max falling behind Daniel and in tilt mode, Bottas would have finished P3 and Lewis P5 behind Vettel.

      1. Why would they have had to give Lewis the victory?

        It was not the right thing for Bottas to come in, for two reasons. 1: He was in 1st place. 2: He had gone past the pit entrance as the safety car was called.

        It would have been the right decision for Hamilton as the SC was called just as he came out of the hairpin giving him enough time to decide to pit. Plus he was already behind his main rival and also not on the podium. Vettel has said that if he had not gone past the pit entrance as the SC car was called then he would have dived in for new tyres.

        Merc really screwed up.

        1. I agree. When I saw a Red Bull streaking past into the pits in the background, I thought “It’s a shame for Bottas, who’s doing everything right, but at least this can salvage Hamilton’s lacklustre weekend.” Then I saw him coming around the corner… I get the argument that they’d not have been ready for him and all, but Red Bull pulled off TWO stacked pit stops, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t “ready” for that second one. Mercedes need to be nimble in these situations now that they’re faced with an equal or superior rival.
          They were lucky that Verstappen’s screw-up minimized their losses.

        2. Vettel has said that if he had not gone past the pit entrance as the SC car was called then he would have dived in for new tyres. Merc really screwed up.

          And Hamilton too, then. It’s one of his weak points as a driver, too reliant on the team deciding for him when experience should be telling him to make some decisions for himself (and ultimately the team).

          1. I hear what you’re saying @david-br but if he just dived into the pits he would’ve suffered a longer pit stop as they wouldn’t have been ready for him.

    2. @Keith Collantine Where is the TR,PLS?

    3. They need to change the safety car procedure. The reason Red Bull won was because they were in the exact position to come in when the yellow came out. It should be setup so that when the safety car comes out the cars gather behind, forming lap, then all can come in if they like. This is fairness for all. The same situation happened when Vettel won a couple races ago due to the safety car. F1 is so boring after the first corner. They need to bring back refueling and have less tire availability. Horner saying his driver drove the perfect race was stupid. Should have said, we were very lucky to win today. Max should have received a harsher penalty, like a stop and go or worse. He almost took out Hamilton too. Horner says, he is young and still learning? He has been driving for four years now. This type of driving is reckless and F1 should not tolerate it anymore! Whatever happened to grid penalties for the next race? Time to mix it up. Have longer races with multiple stops for tires and fuel. Where is the parity??? Right now there are three teams that are in a separate league; Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari. The rest are wall decoration to fill the field. The favoritism for Ferrari is sickening. Changes need to be made concerning engine builders, companies, monies and more. When a team buys an engine from like Ferrari, that engine should have all the ditties that the Ferrari team has. That goes for any engine builder. Ferrari, Red Bull, Merecedes have great followers because they win. If there was parity for all, then other teams would develop more followers. Winning a race once in 3 years is not parity. The cost to run a program limits the possibility of more teams. Prices need to come down. Right now, as a fan, to go to a race can cost anywhere from 300 to 5000 or more. Cost of tickets are outrageous especially when one considers the limited views from the seats. A hotel room which normally cost 75-100/night can go easily for 1000 when the race comes to town. It is a racing event that could be so much better if certain teams and F1/FIA people were not so greedy and bias!

      1. Such meerkat
        16th April 2018, 5:45

        No refuelling, ever.

        1. Why refuel when you can coast…..

          1. Though even with refueling teams would still coast as (apparently) it’s quicker to have a lighter load and coast than tank up and drive hard. The only solution I can see is no refueling give the teams a bit too much fuel for the heaviest pounding round the track and make them want to burn up fuel (though they might still want to do that to coast towards the end… I don’t know, maybe Zeno could have solved this one).

      2. It should be setup so that when the safety car comes out the cars gather behind, forming lap, then all can come in if they like.

        In general, this is a good idea. Giving it a slight tweak, it should probably be that they close the pit exit (and not pit entry), because the reason for the safety car may be due to a car damage (collision damage, punctured tyre, etc.). So all cars should be allowed to enter the pit lane (irrespective of reason), but can only exit it once the other cars have formed up and that train has passed the pit exit.

        That way, anyone with damage is unlikely to make it back in a timely manner or have changes made in a timely manner, so the time loss by waiting for the exit to open shouldn’t be significant. On the other hand, it helps teams from getting a tactical advantage as we saw in Australia and China.

        I’m sure there would be challenges and exceptions to this (e.g. what if the SC needs to bring the train of cars through the pitlane?), and probably even other cases that make this infeasible.

      3. The problem with your argument over engines and parity doesn’t stack up. Renault doesn’t hold back engines to Red Bull (and if they are then Renault need to overhaul their chassis and aero departments)
        Yes there needs to be tweaks to some rules, but that is the same for every sport.
        Who could have honestly predicted when they switched to hybrid engines that Mercedes would dominate so much?
        Short of having a completely controlled car (such as Formula E) there will always be disparity

        1. Formula E is not “completely controlled” and I hate seeing this used as a derogatory comment, in attempt to hold other Formulas suffering with loss of viewers in higher regard.
          FE opened up motor and gearbox development 1-2 years ago? and have just opened up battery placement which teams felt held back dev quite significantly.
          Formula E will actually seem less restricted than F1 as it opens up more. Next season’s cars are already to be speed restricted as they outgrow the current introductory concept of city racing. The heaviest restrictions for Formula E were all done with regards to safety, i.e no battery swaps and minimum pit stop times.

      4. Hamilton was in the perfect spot when the SC was deployed ( see Youtube for the evidence) but MERC failed to make the call. Strategy is part of the sport and a SC often changes the perspectives. Teams know that and act accordingly.. but MERC missed it completly. They did not had the balls to take the risk. RBR ( with little to loose) did.

      5. GtisBetter (@)
        16th April 2018, 14:53

        There are always going to be winners and losers when a safety car or virtual safety car starts. If you close the pit and let them form up (like indycar), the person who has a planned pitstop around the SC period, suddenly is last.

        Something happened to bourdais yesterday. He came in just when yellow was annouced and the pit closed when he tried to enter. He had to drive through at pitlane speed and do another one.

      6. There was debris on the track for quite a while before they declared the SC. It should have been obvious to Mercs that the SC would be called to clear the hazard.

    4. There was a lot of difference of mostly decent F1 grid girls compare to that cheerleader in that land of the free (with exceptions).

      I never heard F1 grid girls to turn off their GPS applications to make it harder for drivers to hunt them down. I never heard F1 grid girls asking for the same treatment as the drivers. I never heard F1 grid girls banned for posting her image in social media and ought to block drivers from follow them. I never read FIA regulation for grid girls shaving techniques and rules about the proper use of tampons!

    5. They couldn’t have done so even if they wanted to as Lewis had already passed the pit entry by the time the SC came out.
      – I fully agree with Dr. Marko.

      1. Verstappen was ahead of Lewis on road before SC came out so I am pretty sure Lewis had more than enough time to pit when SC came out. It was just a bad call by Mercedes team.

      2. lewis was behind max when the safety car came out so mercedes could have pitted hamilton. mercedes seemed to be worried about bottas winning and forgot they had another car on circuit.

      3. The SC had been called before Lewis exited the hairpin. He had plenty of time to react.

      4. @jerejj why are you making things up? There was even an SC BOARD slap bang infront of his cockpit view in the footage as he came around the hairpin.

    6. The RaceFans tweet about Horner is hilarious and shows how well he’s clued in, by making light of the expected tin foil theories.

    7. Reading that Marko article…. it seems to me that he does his level best to not acknowledge Daniel Ricciardo as being the great that he is.

    8. Which position would Hamilton have finished had he pitted under SC?

      1. Probably first or second…

        1. It’s hard to say but it did look like the Mercedes had better race pace than RedBull so you’d have to say he’d have been 3rd at worse with a great shot at the win. Who knows what would have happened between himself, Ricciardo and Verstappen but it’s clear he’d have got past Vettel, Bottas and Kimi.

    9. I’d say close the pits during a yellow until the field is calmed. Not a perfect solution, but better than the pot-luck advantages we’ve seen recently. Maybe for short VSC keep them closed entirely except for emergency and assess a small penalty (a five second hold while pitting under VSC) so at least no advantage is had if someone does pit.

      1. How would that be fair? What if you were planning to come in on that lap anyway and now you get punished for doing a routine stop? VSC stops probably ought to have a reduced pit lane speed as there seems to be a much bigger advantage to coming in under VSC as opposed to SC.

        1. My thinking is, it’s totally unfair when full yellow is called just as the leader passes pit-in, then every car behind him goes into the pits for fresh tires. The leader has to slow and when the pace car picks him up he’s the only one on older tires, huge advantage to the cars now right behind him on new tires once the field is slowed. These cars could go a few laps under yellow with the pits closed, that seems like a small change in plans, and it maintains the running order, versus someone totally getting shafted because the marshal flew the yellow just past pit in.

          1. The point is that the SC is called for safety reasons. They are not going to wait for an ideal time for the leader, it is just bad luck if they get caught out. Just like it is terrible luck if they came in a lap earlier or were due to come in a few laps so would be forced to pit earlier and last longer on the second set of tyres.

            What you are suggesting basically swaps the bad luck for the leaders in favour of bad luck for other cars. Why do the leaders deserve special treatment? Also what if the leader comes in for tyres but the cars behind stay out? The cars behind might have more time to work out if it is best to come in or not and then the leader may end up falling back to the midfield. How are you going to engineer a solution for that?

      2. Indycar did or does this. I hated it. It makes the caution periods interminable.

    10. I am torn about the safety car. On one hand it messed up a lot of team’s strategies that I cheer for. However, it gave us some awesome action and overtakes. I was surprised how messy VER was with his moves. Really highlighted RIC’s skills and racecraft to pull off all those overtakes to the lead. My son was so excited when RIC won because he got to see him do the shoey.

      1. Shoey is the reason why I don’t watch podium ceremonies when Ricciardo wins. He used to be one of my favourite drivers, but the shoey is disgusting.

    11. why are people now complaining about the SC mixing up a race?

      its been here for 25 years….

      1. Because complaining is comforting

    12. Can an Australian perhaps explain if Ricciardo’s weird exclamations are some kind of native slang or is he slightly insane?

    13. notice vettel complained how the safety car messed him up
      strange how he didn’t complain how he won the first race when it went in his favour

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