Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Hamilton urges Mercedes to find “bulletproof” fix for strategy errors

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton called on his Mercedes team to find a “bulletproof” solution to their strategy errors after another cost him the lead of today’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was on course to win the race when his team failed to react in time to a Virtual Safety Car period. Hamilton was left out while other cars took the opportunity to pit while losing less time. Hamilton didn’t make his pit stop until after the VSC period had ended, which dropped him to fourth place.

This is the latest in a series of high-profile strategy errors which Hamilton has suffered at Mercedes. He lost a potential win in the Australian Grand Prix this year due to what Mercedes said was a “software bug”. Another mistake cost him victory in the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas both retired from today’s race due to technical problems. Hamilton said the strategy mistakes are just one area the team must improve as they “lost a lot of points today”.

“All areas we’re going to have to work on,” he said. “The car has been quick all weekend, we were the quickest and then to have two different faults on each car is very unusual. We can’t throw away points.

“We’ve got to find a bulletproof method to move forward with our strategy because if our car was still going it was an easy win for us. We were comfortably ahead.

“But we’ll work on it, we’ll try to re-evaluate and try to win the next race.”

“Everyone in the team is feeling the pain today,” Hamilton added. “We’ve had such great reliability for so many years. As painful as it is and we are professionals, we really have to take the rough with the smooth.

“This is definitely the worst weekend I can remember us having for a long time. But I have every confidence in my team that we’ll be able to bounce back.”

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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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35 comments on “Hamilton urges Mercedes to find “bulletproof” fix for strategy errors”

  1. His response to all this had been a bit sad. Imagine his tirades if he had been at permanently blundering Ferrari?

    1. They squandered a win. This is the usual reaction of a competition driver.

  2. Well, I think that sounds quite mature, seems he cooled down after walking to the pits; Mercedes do need to look at their strategy I think.

    1. I think that sounds quite mature

      gotta agree, even if I’m not really a HAM fan: his “we’ll talk later, in private” radio response mid-race is probably the classiest thing I could muster in the same situation and one of the most mature radio messages we’ve heard from drivers in the same position as well…

    2. I think the fact that the car failed him anyway has something to do with it. Had he finished the race some 20s behind the trio in front he most certainly would have been more agitated @bosyber, especially considering their upgrades introduced in the last 2 race weekends.

      1. Not quite sure about that @toiago, maybe having been put behind and in ‘traffic’ meant the engine had to work harder, and had less cooling, so being 20s behind was a contributing factor to it then giving up. But I do think that he had time to ask about the failures of Bottas, himself (because he seemingly already knows those were likely two different issues, unrelated to the PU), and gather himself before he faces the press.

        1. I am pretty sure that Mercedes mentioned something about the issue for HAmilton having been a fuel pickup issue, so likely not connected to having to run in traffic @bosyber, @toiago,

          1. Yes, that seems so @bascb, but in my defence, I only read anything from Toto Wolff/Mercedes about it well after I wrote this :)

  3. Even their virtual garage cannot save them from strategic errors apparently. I’m not sure about the number of people on strategy for Red Bull but the decision to pit both Verstappen and Ricciardo during the VSC was just brilliant.

    1. Though you have to admit, Red Bull not fighting for the WDC (or the win, I think they thought at the time …) means it is an easier choice to take the risk than when you are well ahead of others – also, HAM/Merc. had less time to decide until he was at the pits bc. he was well ahead ….

    2. Yeah. Merc problems was too reliantly on their tech to judge. Toto was not a Brawn and never brave enough to call a quick decision on his own.

      1. After Brawn it seems they set up a committee for it; not great in times of great haste @ruliemaulana!

      2. Toto doesn’t have anything to do with strategy!

  4. lol… he doesnt respect what he drives and the team he has… if he was at Ferrari what he yould had done where the word “sorry” from the team is happening in 5 from 10 races.

    1. @bluechris What garbage, the teams have to aim for perfection. Settling for a relative ‘good enough vs everyone else’ is a defeatist attitude, and an alien mindset to any high performing individual or team.

      The moment you stop trying to improve is the moment you accept mediocrity, in whatever your chosen field is.

    2. he doesnt respect what he drives and the team he has

      What a load of nonsense. Of course he does. Did you read the article?

      “Everyone in the team is feeling the pain today,” Hamilton added. “We’ve had such great reliability for so many years. As painful as it is and we are professionals, we really have to take the rough with the smooth.

      “This is definitely the worst weekend I can remember us having for a long time. But I have every confidence in my team that we’ll be able to bounce back.”

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    1st July 2018, 16:49

    You’re second in the championship and 1 point behind, and arguably your car was comfortably ahead of everyone else when a very rare technical fault hit – the first since what, 2016? I think even Vettel would prefer to be in your car at this point. “All areas need to be worked on?”, “we can’t throw away points?”

    Honestly, chill.

    1. The first since an engine failure cost him the WDC in 2016, to be precise.

      Mercedes race strategy has been subpar for years, but that was masked by the fact their car was so far ahead of the rest. It’s not quite as far ahead any more, so strategic errors have more impact.

      I also do not believe that you get to be a multiple championship winning team by accepting e.g. a double dnf as good enough. Amateurs do their best, professionals (have to) do more than that.

    2. @rocketpanda

      “All areas need to be worked on?”, “we can’t throw away points?”

      I think VET is a kind of guy who would’ve said the exact same thing when asked by the media in a similar situation

  6. He would have already gone mad if he was at Ferrari.

    1. Probably a good reason for both sides not to get together.

  7. How about find a bulletproof fix to his own performance first

  8. Hamilton must not forget that he too, has won races due to bad calls / strategy errors from Ferrari. It’s all part of racing.

    After Montreal, I think Mercedes got a bit desperate with Ferrari’s evolution and introduced his latest spec engine too soon without proper dyno work. It’s quite obvious they used some aggressive engine modes during all weekend (race included) and that might have contributed to their double DNF at today’s race.

    1. @elio I hope so. We’ll see in Silverstone if they’ll tune it a bit down.

  9. Unless they manage to buy a crystal ball with that huge Daimler budget they won’t be solving this issue anytime soon. I think it is a bit cultural, in that Mercedes as a team tends to be averse at taking risks when it comes to strategy calls, which is also seen with how they manage the introduction of their updates, as well as driver choice. It was masked while they could afford to run 1-2 miles ahead of everyone else from 2014 through to 2016, but now that they have some stronger opposition this approach will cost them some times because they won’t have enough time on track to spare for their safer choices.

  10. Send kid Lewis to school…

    He needs to learn that such «magic» thing he wishes simply doesn’t exist…

  11. He was right to be upset until the car broke down. Then it was pointless (pun intended – I think) to complain because nothing the team could have done was going to pay dividends.

    1. You could argue the car broke because he was playing catchup after the initial poor call.

      You could argue had he come in on VSC he wouldn’t have had to force the pace and might then have driven more conservatively given the unknowns of Bottas’ failed engine. Did they have a set of ‘hard tires’ to place him on?

      Some points would have been better than nil points.

  12. I think Lewis is overreacting. The most important problem was the engine failed. Yes, the strategic and tactical decisions weren’t ideal, but the engine failure was far more important. It may be this would have happened regardless of what he did, or it may be he somehow contributed to the failure. If this was going to happen, then regardless of whether or not he was at the front of the race then it was going to happen. If he somehow contributed to it happening, then maybe he’d have got to the end of the race without it happening, but then it might have happened a few laps earlier than it actually did.

    1. Wait…….Lewis Hamlton being overly dramatic? Nooooooo never! /s

    2. @drycrust he’s great but he is incredibly dramatic when he’s not comfortably leading.

  13. Mercedes should have been prepared for the VSC, after all it was their car which broke down, they should have been the most ready to take advantage.

    Instead their ‘strategy’ called for Hamilton to find an extra 8 seconds when everyone was coming in for fresh tires. Even if Hamilton’s tires weren’t shot, how was he expected to find 8 seconds against drivers with fresher tires?

    Once again Mercedes gambles are found wanting. They could have and should have played it safe with these new engines.

  14. Another DIVA moment…


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