Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018

Mercedes admit Hamilton was “very fortunate” with German GP pit call

2018 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes admit Lewis Hamilton was “very fortunate” that a radio miscommunication resulted in him not coming into the pits during the Safety Car period in the German Grand Prix.

The team called both drivers into the pits when the Safety Car was deployed. Valtteri Bottas, the first of the two cars, made it in, but the team did not have the correct tyres ready.

In the confusion which followed Hamilton was given mixed messages about whether to come in or not. He ended up cutting across the grass at the pit lane entry to avoid coming in.

Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles explained why Hamilton ended up not coming into the pits in a video released by the team (below).

“On lap 52 Valtteri was in turn 15 when the Safety Car was deployed. That’s around a two-and-a-half seconds’ reaction time we had to get him in before he’s at the pit lane entry. And with Lewis we only had a few seconds more than that.

“So it’s not very long in order to co-ordinate two drivers, an engineering team, and all the pit crew to come out in the pit lane with the correct tyres. It creates a huge amount of radio traffic and, indeed, too much. It was mostly chaotic during that point in time with a lot of transmissions everywhere. And as a result of it there was a miscommunication with Lewis.

“He understood that he should go back out on track and he completed that. He drove across the grass and got back on track again. The reality behind all of this is actually that turned out to be very fortunate given the issues that we had with Valtteri and the tyres at the pit stop. It put Lewis in the lead of the race and those tyres were able to recover.”

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Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018
A “miscommunication” delayed Bottas in the pits
Hamilton was later reprimanded by the stewards for crossing the line at the pit lane entrance.

Mercedes considered bringing Hamilton in on the following lap but decided against it. “We could indeed have stopped next lap as Kimi did but decided to keep him out there and keep those tyres going. It was his best chance of winning the race and it worked out very well.”

Bottas’s pit stop was delayed because the team initially called for him to switch to intermediate tyres. However the weather forecast indicated the track was about to begin drying again.

“We had a few second to react with Valtteri. We got him into the pit lane, he did a great job. What then happened was a miscommunication on what tyres were required.

“Intermediate tyres were called, that was incorrect. We knew ultra-soft was going to be the correct tyre. The conditions right then and there were intermediate but what was going to happen after the Safety Car period was 100 per cent going to be back into ultra-soft or dry conditions.

“What then happened is, given the high-pressure situation, the guys did a fantastic job and something we purposefully train for. They dealt with it in an extremely calm manner, got the correct tyres for Valtteri’s car of the correct specification, all four were bolted to the car and the car left the pit lane a very short period of time afterwards.”

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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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29 comments on “Mercedes admit Hamilton was “very fortunate” with German GP pit call”

  1. Hamilton’s tyres were still relatively fresh and much fresher than those of his rivals. Not pitting him was really a no-brainer. I’m still confused how Mercedes managed to almost goof up again during a caution.

    1. @f1infigures Not fresher than those of his teammate and Raikkonen, though.

      1. @jerejj Before the caution Hamilton’s tyres were much fresher, so he had less to gain by pitting.

        1. Completely agree @f1infigures Hamiltons were only around 5-10 laps old when the others pitted but with the rain and safety car I can’t think he’d actually taken much of the life out of them. His best option was always to stay out so like yourself I’m also surprised Mercedes nearly Messed this one up.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      25th July 2018, 4:18

      It’ll be a tight season with Vettel’s mistakes and Mercedes’ eccentric strategies

  2. “the car left the pit lane a very short period of time afterwards”

    Yea I guess… I know I took this out of context, but 15secs is an eternity in F1, and dropping this line doesn’t change that fact. Granted from what I could tell it didn’t affect the outcome. They are probably right in that switching tires at the last second, getting tires on and the car rolling was quick in itself.

  3. Blessed… a Hamilton saga.

  4. If he just drove though the pit lane on the limiter would he have been behind Raikkonen? It seemed that they dodged a bullet by not doing the obvious, legal thing. But probably since they are in the first slot, Hamilton wold have stopped to queue before they realized what to do and caused more confusion.

    1. What is the final word on this?

      Regardless of the outcome, am still unsure about whether what he did was legal as per the rules or not.

      Still calling it an “illegal” manoeuvrer would be correct.

      The suggestion seems to be that it is legal but not advised nor repeatedly tolerated, hence a reprimand is as harsh as it can get in most races.

      Only in certain races (Brazil and Azerbaijan?) has this been deemed an illegal manoeuvrer and is punishable by penalty. This is usually established as a track specific ruling before the race.

      1. Silly me

        *Still calling it an “illegal” manoeuvrer would be incorrect.

      2. @mach1 What’s unsure about it? Hamilton got a penalty. So no, it’s not legal clearly.

        Though it’s just not an offence where a time penalty is handed out unless there were explicit instruction that they would get a time penalty when crossing the line. That’s for circuits where it could otherwise be dangerous (for example Baku).

        So in most cases a reprimand is the most they get and in some exceptions a time-penalty.

    2. @dmw

      If he just drove though the pit lane on the limiter would he have been behind Raikkonen?

      Do you mean on the occasion when Hamilton nearly came in but didn’t? If so, Raikkonen didn’t come in on that lap – he came in the lap after.

  5. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    24th July 2018, 18:14

    How on earth did Hamilton not lose his position?

    Stewards are inconsistent.

    1. Jesus wept are you lot still clinging on to this for dear life

    2. @peppermint-lemon As Keith indicated, 18 times before no time penalty was handed out and drivers were given a reprimand instead (or less), but this time it would be “consistent” to penalize Hamilton with a time penalty? Right.

      4 times a time penalty was handed out, but that was only when there was an explicit note about a time penalty being given for this offence before the race.

      Hamilton’s penalty was 100% consistent with previous penalties given.

  6. Smart of Hammy to stay out. He knew that the team would forbid Bottas from passing him no matter how much faster Bottas was.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      24th July 2018, 21:07

      Weird, I’m sure I saw Bottas have a very, very serious attempt at taking the lead immediately after the restart. Which was the only chance he was ever going to get (due to tyre warm-up advantage), team orders or not…

      1. Mercedes called off the fight after not even half a lap.

        Hammy has #1 driver status at Mercedes.

        If the positions were reversed they would have given Hammy every chance to pass Bottas and then call it off.

  7. Really strange set of calls, but for Hamilton the best outcome.

    I’m not sure why he even considered coming in as staying out would give him the lead on relatively fresh tyres.

    Can you imagine the radio calls had he come in? “Guys, you’ve cost me a win haven’t you”…. would have been the song as I doubt they would’ve asked Bottas to move aside.

  8. Yeah. He claimed, to have prayed a lot.

    Hamilton was lucky on so many levels.

    Rain, safety car, strategy, tyre choice, team orders,..

    He was also fast and had a mistake free race on sunday. But that is just skill.

    Vettel meanwhile whatever luck he had was bad luck and ran out of skill.

    1. Hamilton was lucky on so many levels.

      Rain, safety car, strategy, tyre choice

      Hydraulic leak. Yeah that guy was so lucky -_-

      Safety car was lucky for Bottas and Raikkonen, not Hamilton. With the safety car they both got to be right behind Hamilton on better tyres, without it they would have been no where near him at the end.

      1. He damaged his car in qualifying. Car got stuck in gear a millisecond after he damaged the car rejoining the track (after making a mistake).

        1. Nope he didn’t damage his car get your facts straight.

  9. Think the Gods of stewarding were making amends for the terrible decision they made at Spa 08 ;)

  10. The biggest question I have is why people, even professionals deeply involved in F1, still pronounce Seb’s name as VeTEL, with a heavy stress on the end. The stress is light and has always been on the first syllable, and that’s the normal German pronunciation.

    1. The only thing I like about Crofty is that he pronounces Vettel correctly (“Fettle”). @charleski

  11. Clickbait much?

    An (otherrwise decent) article describing all that went on with the pit strategy and the title is that Hamilton was “very fortunate” because they didn’t screw up his pitstop? Sad.

  12. Why don’t more F1 teams do more content like this like Mercedes? Mercedes seem to be on another level with fan engagement.

  13. Great debrief video by Mercedes, the first time i’ve seen that. I shall now be looking out for their Channel. It would be interesting to have a similar perspective from the other teams.

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