Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Red Bull were “surprised” Mercedes didn’t pit Hamilton

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the team were surprised when Mercedes didn’t bring Lewis Hamilton in to pit during the Virtual Safety Car period in the Austrian Grand Prix.

By leaving Hamilton out, Mercedes handed the effective lead of the race to Max Verstappen. Once Hamilton made his pit stop under green-flag conditions, the way was clear for Verstappen to take victory for Red Bull.

Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff admitted they hesitated too long over the decision to bring Hamilton in. Horner, however, said Red Bull knew right away they wanted to pit both of their cars, even though it meant queuing one behind the other.

[Valtteri] Bottas had the issue and the Virtual Safety Car came out and it was just a question of right, take this,” Horner told media including RaceFans. “It’s right on the cusp for us, we’ll double stop. The boys once again nailed a double stop in the pit lane.

“We were quite surprised that Hamilton didn’t take that opportunity to stop because that was always going to give us, potentially, track position so long as we could match his pace.”

Horner said Red Bull were committed to bringing both cars in and would not have left one out to take the lead had Hamilton pitted.

“We were committed to the double stop,” he said. “We felt that was the quickest way to the end of the race. That’s why Ferrari, I think, did the same as well.

“We were quite surprised Lewis didn’t take that opportunity.”

Red Bull looked to be heading for a one-two finish at one stage. However Daniel Ricciardo had to make a second pit stop due to tyre wear and later retired from the race.

“He had, it looks like, an exhaust issue that’s then jetted hot air onto the rear of the car which has unfortunately caused his retirement,” Horner explained.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

3 comments on “Red Bull were “surprised” Mercedes didn’t pit Hamilton”

  1. Redbull is on fire strategy wise this season. No mistakes so far as far as i can remember?

  2. The race was fixed. There is no way Merc could make such a siily error

    1. Unfortunately, they’ve done similar before– They made a similar mistake in 2015 when they pitted Hamilton under the safety car late in the race, and the other drivers stayed out.

      Mercedes seems a little conservative in their strategy, and doesn’t seem to be able to react quickly to unexpected events– although a VSC shouldn’t be unexpected, and they should have a general strategy that says “If there’s a VSC near the first window, pit”.

      Obviously Ferrari and Red Bull had such a contingency plan.

      And, it was an unexpectedly short VSC– Usually a VSC period lasts at least 3 laps, and this was about 1.5 laps, which didn’t leave Mercedes much time (see “planning, comma, contingency”).

Comments are closed.