Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Mercedes reacted too slowly to bring Hamilton into the pits – Wolff

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes failed to bring Lewis Hamilton in for a pit stop during the Virtual Safety Car period because it was too slow to react to it being deployed, according to team principal Toto Wolff.

The VSC was triggered after the team’s other car retired from second place. The team was figuring out the ramifications of Valtteri Bottas’s stoppage on Hamilton’s strategy when the VSC was triggered.

“We’ve just discussed it, and we made a mistake,” Wolff explained. “What I think happened is that we were running one and two and controlling the race. And suddenly we see the second car stopping, Valtteri stopping with a hydraulic leak.

“The VSC came out, we had half a lap to react and we didn’t. Fact. This is where we lost the race.”

Hamilton’s closest rivals all pitted immediately under the Safety Car.

“At that stage of the race with the VSC pitting is probably the 80% thing you need to do,” said Wolff.

“With one car out there against two others there was the thinking process that happened is what would happen if the others would split the cars? If we pit Lewis we would come out behind Kimi, if they would leave Kimi out, then behind Max. What would that mean for the race?

“And that whole thinking loop… I wouldn’t say distracted us but that thinking loop, we spent too much time on.”

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27 comments on “Mercedes reacted too slowly to bring Hamilton into the pits – Wolff”

  1. Mercedes need to get their act together when it comes to strategy. First, Monaco in 2015, then Australia this season, and now this race. From now on, perhaps they should always make a pit stop under the VSC unless it’s the opening lap of a race.

    1. @jerejj Right, it’s the logical default decision to make if ‘80% thing you need to do’ then you only have to react in the 20% of times it isn’t !

    2. To me Monaco 2015 was quite a bit different @jerejj. But in general I agree that Mercedes have not been “on the ball” with these kind of strategical reactions to what is happening in the races since maybe early last year.

    3. @jerejj Don’t forget China.. But let’s hope things getting better..

      1. @noname Did they really have an option there? At the time, to me, it looked like (or at least I thought that) Hamilton had already passed the pit entry when the SC came out on track. If he indeed hadn’t after all, then for sure, they should’ve pitted him for a fresh set of ultra-soft.

  2. I’m a Mercedes fan, but their strategy calls are becoming a joke! It’s almost as if they are trying to outsmart THEMSELVES. “Well, we will do this. But, Ferrari knows we will do this, so we will do that. BUT Ferarri know that we know they know, so we will do this!”
    Damn! Its a VSC, pit the car!

    1. Invisiblekid
      1st July 2018, 19:49

      Yeah they seriously need to do something about the paranoia over pit stops.

      They and Williams have the most laughable pit stop strategies and reactions to potential pit stop emergencies.

      As I said in another topic, if they kept Ross Brawn then we won’t be taking like this.

  3. Michael Brown (@)
    1st July 2018, 19:08

    Legend has it they’re still responding to the VSC in Monaco 2015…

  4. Wolf’s overly agressive celebration at the begining when Bottas got the 1-2 back tempted fate.

    1. Indeed, I kinda wanted to see him bang the table after that reaction, unfortunately despite everything happened to make him to so, I saw no table broken!

  5. Problem for Hamilton was that he is leading. So lets suppose during VSC, Hamilton pits while Ferraris and RBRs decide not to pit. Now he is in 5th place behind Vettel. If Verstappen (who is now leading) is faster than Vettel gets 20sec plus, than Hamilton loses the victory when Verstappen pits. Plus Mercedes do not know how long Soft tyres will last.
    So it is always a gamble when VSS or SC comes out and they are not in clear pit stop window.

    Another thing which went against Mercedes was 1st lap after VSC was deployed top guys were past pit entrance. 2nd lap after Hamilton went past pit entrance RBR and Ferrari made move to pit. And soon after when Hamilton was in Sector 2 they resumed full course green.

    So it is case of Mercedes having once car in top 3, just like Australia where other team can take contra-strategy to whatever Mercedes do.

    1. They where just about in a pit window and Lewis would have had the advantage of fresher tyres and less deficit. It was almost a no brainer to pit.

      Even if Lewis had pitted and no one else did then he’d still had been better off especially when they did eventually pit.

      RedBull have the best strategists in the business.

    2. I think Red Bull and Ferrari were running the hyper softs, so it was more than certain they would all stop. Mercedes don’t think on their feet, they are too slow to anticipate or react. They are just not flexible in such situations. Redbull always seem to be spit on race after race.
      The very close competition is exposing a flaw keen observers have noticed in the Mercedes team since they became regular race winners.

    3. I know what you are saying and to a point I agree. It is more difficult for the leader as they have everything to lose while those behind have everything the gain.

      However in Austria the VSC was triggered very close to what would have been a pit window anyway so it seemed like it should have been a no brainer to pit at that point. Merc should really swap their mentality. Basically you plan to pit under a VSC and in the time you have you work out if it is better to not pit rather than have a plan not to pit and in the time you have you work out if it is best to pit…

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    1st July 2018, 19:39

    I was amazed they didn’t… thought they were close enough to the expected ultrasoft stop window (which the Ferraris were running to, even if Mercedes weren’t) to make it a no brainer.

    Even if they had temporarily lost track position, no one was going to pull out 20 seconds on him…

  7. Pretty poor to be fair, putting under VSC costs about 12 seconds relative to cars not pitting vs 22 seconds under normal racing conditions, what’s to think about?

    I thought the idea was to complete the race in the quickest time?

    Even if the others did split strategies, HAM would have been 3rd at worst with 2 cars ahead on old tyres that would need to pit again, he could simply have sat in 3rd looking after his tyres with a nice gap to 4th.

    It’s different if everyone has already made a stop as you are then giving up track position, as they did in Monaco 2015…………….

  8. Mercedes strategist suffers from heat stroke. Again.

  9. Even without the strategy error, it would have ended the same way for HAM: Bad blistering on its soft tires and DNF.

    Just like it happened to RIC.

    1. True, but you don’ t plan your pit stop strategies over the unknow failure.

  10. Seems poor but then again Ferrari have had their moments too. Fact is when it goes right (most of the time) it goes unnoticed. Merc messed up today, but at least it was refreshing to hear the contrite strategist on team radio.

    1. @john-h

      Kind of agree. A lot of times they really get it right and sometimes they really get it wrong. In Australia, there wasn’t much the strategists at Mercedes could do, Vettel just lucked in to the SC window, probably their only mistake was not to tell Lewis to push hard enough to clear the SC window. Here, they kind of blew it by not bringing him in.

      In Bahrain, they nearly beat a quicker Ferrari purely on strategy. Similarly, in China they executed the plan perfectly to help Bottas jump Vettel (although you could attribute it partly to Ferrari as a blunder). In Baku, they were smart enough to split the strategies for Mercedes drivers to attack Vettel. Bottas would have won that race regardless of the safety car coming out.

      I feel they get too much grief for poor strategy, which isn’t always true. This weekend was a big blunder, but every team makes these kinds of mistakes over the course of the season. So far, I think Red Bull has been the team most on point with strategy, but even they will probably get it wrong at some point in time this season.

  11. Mercedes screwed up, but Hamilton did not do himself any favours. He destroyed his soft tyres in 20 laps by following Kimi too closely. Raikkonen had DRS from Ricciardo every lap, so Lewis was never going to get past. He should have bided his time instead of driving with red mist. Then he failed to properly cover the inside line against Vettel.

    Mercedes made a mistake, but Hamilton’s poor tyre management and poor racecraft against Vettel should also be criticized.

  12. Mercedes rigging the championship to give it to Rosberg…


  13. I see a lot of comments saying that Mercedes are bad at strategy seemingly forgetting that they won the last 4 constructors championships and are 10 points from the constructors lead and 1 from drivers this year.

    Mercedes are doing fine.

    1. @eljueta

      They are doing ok, but their lead driver needs more of an advantage over the competition than he’s getting now. As AutoSport said he’s ‘below par’

  14. Can’t see why you wouldn’t pit under a VSC when you have track position.

    If they’d pitted Hamilton he would have remained ahead of anyone else who pitted (barring any problems). Anyone else who didn’t pit would need to pit at some stage anyway under green flag conditions (unless they lucked out with a VSC/SC later in the race).

  15. The fix was in. German perfection doesn’t fail like this often.

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