Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi, 2018

2018 Russian Grand Prix team radio highlights

2018 Russian Grand Prix

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How did Valtteri Bottas respond to being ordered to let Lewis Hamilton through? How hard did Sergio Perez press Force India to be let past Esteban Ocon? And who called the Russian Grand Prix “the longest race of my life”?

Find out all this and more with this selection of team radio highlights from last weekend’s race.

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2018 Russian Grand Prix team radio highlights

Kevin Magnussen lined up fifth on the grid and thought he spied an opportunity for an advantage.

Magnussen:Just a note, I saw last time I started from P5 that the first four cars did a proper start. Can I do that as well?
To Magnussen:Kevin we don’t think you can do that here because the speed limit’s 60kph here, we think you’d be well over that speed before the line.

The race settled down quickly. Charles Leclerc’s race engineer gave a calm “good job” in response to his driver’s lap two heroics, while Carlos Sainz Jnr had suffered first-lap damage.

To Leclerc:So now we need fuel and tyre management. Tyre management also turn three. So good job so far.
Sainz:I lost the sidepod. I have so much oversteer.
To Sainz:Copy that. DRS enabled next lap.
Sainz:The car is un-driveable.
To Sainz:OK Carlos we see the loss at the rear so let’s use your tools to correct it, please. Don’t hold Nico up, please.
To Hulkenberg:DRS is enabled but Stroll does not have it.
To Hulkenberg:OK Nico, Carlos will not defend his position strongly.

Marcus Ericsson was unhappy with Romain Grosjean’s driving.

Ericsson:He went the wrong side of the bollard in turn two.
To Ericsson:Copy that we are on it. We are referring that to Charlie.
To Ericsson:OK Marcus we need to pass him now, turn two, go.
To Ericsson:Spark four and go back on tyre saving.
To Ericsson:You have Ricciardo now behind we don’t want to lose time with the Red Bull, we need to control the Renault.
To Ericsson:We have feedback from Charlie. What Grosjean did was OK so no further action, get on with the race.
To Ericsson:We need to think of our race and our tyres so either you pass Grosjean this lap if not you need to go back on tyres a bit.
To Ericsson:OK Marcus we need to increase the gap to Grosjean. We want five seconds to Grosjean.

And a few drivers were displeased at being stuck behind their team mates. They included Sergio Perez, who repeatedly urged Force India to let him by Esteban Ocon.

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Sirotkin:Lance ahead is really struggling which slows me down. Anything we can do about it?
To Sirotkin:Copy that. He should be in this lap.
Perez:Can I overtake Esteban? I have a lot more pace right now.
To Perez:Checo we will be getting into management of the tyre. Verstappen is the car behind, consider torque seven.
To Ocon:Magnussen struggling ahead. We want you to push now.
To Ocon:Use energy, go by Magnussen if you can.
Ocon:He moved last-minute, that was dangerous.
To Ocon:Copy that, Esteban.
To Ocon:So you want to do the oposite to Magnussen. So pits if he doesn’t.
Ocon:I’m on track.
To Ocon:Push this lap. Big lap, all you’ve got.
To Ocon:Pits this lap.
To Ocon:Racing Magnussen at the exit, use energy, everything you’ve got, racing Magnussen. Consider yellow off.
To Ocon:So we need to keep the pace up to make sure Perez doesn’t over-cut us.
To Perez:Checo how long can we do at this pace? Ricciardo two behind.
Perez:I think two, three laps.
To Perez:OK and if we increase the pace, how many laps of that?
To Perez:Checo target plus two.

A strategic error by Mercedes allowed Sebastian Vettel to get ahead of Hamilton.

To Hamilton:OK Lewis Valtteri will be pitting.
To Hamilton:OK Lewis it’s Hammertime. Vettel 1.8.
To Hamilton:Lewis this will be more than one lap but it won’t be long.
To Vettel:Hamilton is pushing flat out. Brake migration minus five clicks to position four, please, for tyres.
To Vettel:Box, Sebastian, box. Opposite to…
Vettel:You want to opposite?
To Vettel:…opposite to Hamilton.
To Vettel:Box, box.
To Vettel:Copy, box. Mode push and K2 on. And engine one.
To Vettel:All you have in the out-lap.
To Hamilton:These are good times, Lewis, just keep it up. We’re going to monitor what you’re doing.
Hamilton:The tyre can’t take much more.
To Hamilton:OK, copy. Strat mode 10.
To Hamilton:Vettel in the pits now.
Hamilton:I should’ve stopped the lap before.
To Hamilton:OK Lewis, box box.
To Sirotkin:We’ve got a blue flag now for Hamilton behind.
To Sirotkin:OK, Hamilton’s going to pit this lap.
Verstappen:Who is virtually in the lead?
To Verstappen:I would guess it’s going to be Lewis. But he will come out behind you. He is pitting this lap.
To Vettel:Hamilton is coming in, push now. K1 in the straight, all you have.
To Vettel:Nice job.
To Bottas:OK so we’d like you to reduce the lap times and back Vettel up. Go strat three.
Bottas:Is Lewis stopping now?
To Bottas:Affirm. Just need to lose a little bit more lap time.
Bottas:Is that OK?
Bottas:Can you hear me?
To Bottas:Yep. So Lewis is through. Looking after the tyres, going to the end of the race.
To Hamilton:OK Lewis this will be close on entry with Valtteri.
To Hamilton:And that’s Vettel, he is right behind you.
To Hamilton:You’ve got overtake available.
Hamilton:Guys, how did that happen?
To Hamilton:OK Lewis go strat mode five.

However Hamilton hit back swiftly.

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To Vettel:SOC 7, also your mirrors, 0.6 behind.
To Vettel:Be ready with K1, watch your mirrors, 0.7 behind.
To Vettel:Can use DRS, 0.7 behind. 0.3 behind.
Hamilton:That’s an illegal manouevre on the straight. He moved twice.
To Hamilton:Yeah copy Lewis that didn’t look cool.
Hamilton:That strategy call wasn’t good.
To Hamilton:So we’ve got Vettel at 0.7 let’s just keep it in this strat mode for a second.

Next came the contentious moment of the race. Within a few laps Bottas went from being told he could cruise along behind Max Verstappen to win, to being told he had to pass the Red Bull, to being ordered to let Hamilton through.

To Bottas:So race situation: Kimi has pitted. Verstappen, car in front, leading the race four seconds. He is on soft tyre, he’s not stopped yet. You do not need to overtake Verstappen. 34 to go, just completed lap 20.
To Hamilton:Gap to Vettel 2.3 behind.
Hamilton:The tyres are getting hot.
To Hamilton:We’ve got to backmarkers coming up, Sirotkin and Vandoorne.
To Hamilton:OK Lewis just look after those rear temps, they are coming up close to the limit.
Hamilton:At this pace I won’t any tyres left.
To Hamilton:Copy Lewis. Just drop back just a bit to give yourself some free air just to manage temps. Mainly sector three where we need to do some management.
To Bottas:So close the gap to Verstappen.
To Bottas:You’ve got three more presses in your current mode.
To Bottas:So strat five, we need to pass Verstappen for the win.
Hamilton:I’ve already got blistering. I’ve got Vettel right behind me.
To Hamilton:Affirm Lewis Valtteri’s been given the message to attack Verstappen. Just need to keep these tyres in a decent state, got 29 laps remaining.
Hamilton:I don’t feel they’re going to last 29 laps.
To Hamilton:OK copy.
To Vettel:He has blisters, probably has blisters, Hamilton in front of you.
Vettel:Sorry, who has blisters?
To Vettel:Hamilton in front, possible, have a look, take advantage.
To Bottas:So you need to let Lewis by into turn 13 this lap. Lewis at 1.7 seconds, Vettel 1.6 behind him.
Hamilton:Vettel’s catching me.
To Hamilton:Valtteri has been instructed to let you go into turn 13.
Hamilton:Should just pick up the pace. These rear tyres are struggling a little bit.
To Hamilton:HPP shift position two. You have more scope on the diff if you need it.
Hamilton:This doesn’t feel right.
To Hamilton:So Verstappen a 38.4 and Valtteri 38.6.

Unsurprisingly, Bottas wanted an explanation.

To Bottas:So watch for Vettel, Vettel at 0.7.
Bottas:Why was that?
To Bottas:So Vettel has DRS. Gap is one second.
To Bottas:Gap at 0.9.
To Bottas:When you can HPP 1, set position three.
Bottas:I had so much more pace, guys, I don’t understand.
To Bottas:So Vettel has DRS at 0.7. And if you can HPP1 set position three.
Bottas:Why Lewis isn’t getting through Verstappen?
Bottas:I was going to go past the next lap.
To Bottas:Valtteri, it’s James. We had a risk with Lewis against Vettel. He has a small blister. I had to do this to make sure we secure this. I understand.
To Verstappen:Gap to Hamilton 2.9. We think his blisters on the left-rear might be circumferential as well, so almost all the way around the tyre.
Hamilton:This tyre doesn’t feel like it’s going to make it.
To Hamilton:We’re monitoring it, Lewis. Temps look under control now.

The Force India pair were still stuck behind Magnussen and growing concern that Nico Hulkenberg ahead would be able to pit and rejoin the track ahead of them.

To Hulkenberg:Watch your fuel consumption Nico, watch your fuel consumption.
To Hulkenberg:Suggest brake two to look after fronts.
To Hulkenberg:OK Nico your pace is good enough but we must do this fuel saving it’s absolutely critical now.
To Hulkenberg:Still need more fuel saving, Nico.
Hulkenberg:Relax, man, I can’t bring it down in one lap. It’s coming down.
To Perez:Checo do some management on the fronts while they’re fresh, we don’t want them getting too cold later.
Perez:Yes I am doing a lot of management. You’re not happy with that? You want more? I’m doing a lot.
To Perez:Checo it’s generally good bu 13 and 16 are places where the front is going a bit hotter, so 13 and 16 can do more.
Perez:We have to clear the tyres, man, this is too slow now. We have to push out of the traffic.
To Perez:Copy that. Magnussen is now being pushed to overtake Sainz.
To Ocon:We think Sainz is being used to slow us up.
Ocon:That’s exactly what he’s doing at the moment.
To Ocon:So you need to get by them now, get by them now. We need to be doing 40.8.
To Ocon:Magnussen’s pace is not fast enough we do need to go by Maganussen.
To Perez:We’re just waiting for the cars ahead to clear Sainz, Checo, and we need that to be able to get closer to Hulkenberg. So you know the game, just do the management now that you can so we’re in better shape later.
Perez:Is Esteban struggling to push or what? He’s too slow right now.
To Perez:Understood Checo. Magnussen has now passed Sainz.

Sainz was also holding up the Magnussen/Ocon/Perez train – until the Haas driver fought his way by in a manner Sainz did not approve of. Shortly afterwards, Force India decided to play the team orders game too.

To Sainz:Magnussen in your DRS at the moment.
To Sainz:Carlos doing a good job keeping these guys behind you, keep doing that.
Sainz:He pushed me off the track. I got a penalty in the past for exactly the same move.
To Sainz:OK Carlos.
Sainz:Exactly the same move, 2015. They put me five-second penalty.
To Ocon:So Esteban you’ve got three laps to get by him, else Hulkenberg will have done us.
To Ocon:You’ve got plenty of pack, use energy a few times in a row to get him lined up.
To Ocon:Use energy out of 16 to get close to him. You need to get him down the main straight here.
To Ocon:You’re going to have to go by him this lap mate or we’ll be swapping cars.
Ocon:I don’t know if you saw how far Sergio is, I’m close to get him.
To Ocon:Well we need to get on with it. mate. Just keep using energy to ctach him and then get him in the DRS, carry on.
To Ocon:You need to use energy to line him up the straight before the final straight. Energy button this straight and energy button our of 18.
Perez:We need to push, man. Can I overtake?
To Perez:Checo, we’re just going to push so we’ve got better pace than Hulkenberg. He’s doing 40.8s and with Magnussen we should be able to get the pace better than that but we’ll keep you informed. We really do need to make sure we don’t hrt the fronts now because you’re going to need them later.
Perez:I just think Esteban is too slow right now.
To Perez:Understood Checo but Magnussen is the car ahead, Magnussen 42.1, Hulkenberg 40.8.
To Perez:Checo, Magnussen is lift-and-coasting. Esteban has been given three laps to overtake him.
Perez:Copy. We are too slow, right? What is the pace of Hulkennerg?
To Perez:Last lap 40.4 Hulkenberg and he’s four seconds inside the pit window.
To Perez:Checo if you can afford to lose one-tenth per lap for the next two laps we can go mode sixz to get the pack even higher.
To Perez:Sainz is holding up the car behind.
Perez:So what if Esteban doesn’t overtake? Are we getting a change to overtake Magnussen?
To Perez:Stand by.
To Perez:Checo this is Esteban’s last chance so push up and get ready.
Perez:I am ready.
To Perez:Checo you will switch positions into turn two with Esteban next lap. He is aware.
To Magnussen:Let’s increase 30 metres lift-and-coast, would be perfect, pace is good, very good.
To Magnussen:Pace is absolutely perfect we just need to increase a bit lift-and-coast, would be absolutely perfect.
To Magnussen:We really need to increase lift-and-coast, it’s absolutely important to increase lift-and-coast, come on boy.
To Magnussen:We need 50 metres more. Perez is still out of DRS area.
To Magnussen:This level of lift-and-coast is OK. Perez is not in DRS area and you have K1 available in case.
Perez:Checo we will have to switch the cars back later in the race if wwe can’t have DRS and get past. Magnussen is fuel-saving less now. Hulkenberg is now five seconds inside your pit window.
To Perez:Checo it could only be two more laps before Hulkenberg boxes and then we can’t leave it any longer. We think Hulkenmberg may be boxing in a couple of laps.
To Perez:Checo you will be given two more laps to do your best. Purple mode nine, it’s faster.
To Perez:One more lap to try.
To Perez:Checo if you don’t have DRS to turn two on the bnext lap we will switch that lap.
To Perez:Checo we will switch with Esteban now into turn two.

In the second half of the race, tyre and fuel management became a pressing priority.

To Hamilton:OK Lewis you’re posting purple sector threes. That’s where you need to do the management.
Verstappen:The tyres are a little bit cold.
To Verstappen:Understood.
Verstappen:Especially in traffic, difficult to follow now.
To Verstappen:OK Max, understood. Push this lap.
Verstappen:He can’t follow though, he can’t stay close. Now it’s already much better.
To Verstappen:Copy, Max.
Verstappen:Let’s keep going.
To Verstappen:OK, stay out Max.
To Verstappen:Box and pit confirm, Max.
To Verstappen:10 laps to go including this one. For info pace Daniel with a fixed front wing first lap was a 36.3.
To Verstappen:OK just so you’re away Daniel’s lap times have settled down to 37.7s three laps in. You’ll get one quick lap out of it, then it backs off quite a lot.

Vettel was frustrated by losing time lapping Magnussen.

To Magnussen:OK Hamilton is behind us. We don’t have yet the blue flags.
To Magnussen:We have waved blue flag for Hamilton, leader of the race, let him go through.
To Magnussen:Let him go through on the frist braking please.
To Magnussen:Come on, do it now.
To Magnussen:Now we have Bottas behind, still not waved blue flags, he is P2.
To Magnussen:He will closely be followed by Vettel P3.
To Magnussen:So you have waved blue flags for Bottas P2.
To Magnussen:OK we have waved blue flags for Vettel P3. Let him go through at the first occasion please.
To Magnussen:Let him go through as soon as possible please, Kev.
To Magnussen:Kev, let Vettel go through and then spark two.
Vettel:Hey come on. We’re losing rears. 1.5 seconds, thank you.

As the race ticked down to the end, Bottas wanted to know if he would get his win back.

Grosjean:And we’re P11? We’re not any better?
To Grosjean:P11, yeah, we need some help up front.
Grosjean:Oh, fuck.
Bottas:So are we going to finish the race like this?
To Bottas:Affirm, Valtteri, the positions stay as they are. We’ll talk about it after the race.

But Hamilton wasn’t exactly thrilled to have inherited it.

To Hamilton:Well done, Lewis. So a Mercedes one-two. Nice work, good weekend.
Hamilton:Guys that doesn’t feel great. Congrats to the team. Great effort all weekend.
To Bottas:Valtteri this is Toto. A difficult day for you and difficult day for us. Let’s discuss it afterwards, when we come together we’ll explain.
Vettel:P3 Sebastian. Nice job.
To Vettel:OK it was a solid race, guys. We tried.
To Leclerc:Excellent race, Charles. P7.
Leclerc:Yes! It’s like a win for us. The top six is only Red Bull, mercedes and Ferrari still, right?
To Leclerc:Yeah exactly. We are best of the rest, really great race from your side.
To Magnussen:Hamilton won the race. You are P8, Romain P11. No Renaults scored points so this is good.
To Grosjean:OK that’s chequered flag. Well you drove a perfect race, I’m sorry it only got you to 11th but you did everything perfectly, really good management.
Grosjean:I don’t understand why did the gap open so much with the guys in front.
To Grosjean:I guess the most of it happened when we were trying to get around Sainz for a few laps when he was going so slow. Yeah, you just had the disadvantage of you were behind Sainz and Hulk and they weren’t so we were just a little bit further back. You did brilliantly, though, sorry it’s just 11th. Good drive.
Grosjean:Where did Kevin finish?
To Grosjean:He finished eighth.
Grosjean:That’s good.
To Grosjean:Yeah it’s really good. Leclerc was seventh.
Grosjean:Yeah the Sauber was flying, mate.
To Grosjean:Yeah they were. Unbelievable. But you had a much better management on the soft and did a really good job.
Sainz:Probably the longest race of my life with that balance. What a shame. Points on the table today I think.
To Sainz:Yeah copy that mate.

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NB. As some messages will have been transmitted simultaneously the chronology of the above extracts is not exact.

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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30 comments on “2018 Russian Grand Prix team radio highlights”

  1. Reading these radio transcripts, you’d think it was some weird Twilight Zone version of F1 – “slow down”, “increase the gap”, “lift and coast”, “save fuel”, “cool the tires”… It’s great to get an insight into what is actually happening in those cockpits, but it paints a depressing picture of the state of the racing the sport is in currently.

    Yes yes, I know fuel and tire management has always been part of F1 (well, mordern F1), but not to this extent and not from lap 5 of a race.

    1. @joeypropane Today it isn’t really a problem anymore, though. Only really on a few particular venues such as the Sochi Autodrom as it’s one of the most fuel-thirsty circuits in F1 due to its stop-start nature similar to Albert Park, and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, etc.

  2. The transcript confirms Mercedes was trying to engineer an overcut for Hamilton on Bottas—without telling him that was the strategy, seemingly so he could maintain some plausible deniability about the whole thing. I have no problem with team orders, but this makes invoking Hamilton’s blistering as the justification ring a bit hollow—he was only vulnerable to Vettel because they screwed up their first attempt at trying to swap them around.

    1. Which would have been the right move regardless. No matter how its painted, getting LH in front of VB was the right move.

      1. @lums No argument from me there, but what rankles me—now more so than immediately after the race—is Mercedes’ inability to quite say so out loud. They keep sidestepping it, saying they left Hamilton out too long because they were debating when to box him, and omitting the fact that they reason they were doing so was because they were trying to engineer the swap far earlier in the race.

        1. If what you are assuming is correct, Im sure you can understand why they were tyring to keep it low-key, they went and flopped it and then had to do it explicitly.

          If they succeded in switching the drivers low-key by your assumptions, you think that would soften the backlash they are getting? Ill bet my lady on a ‘No’. And I love her lol.

        2. Yep @markzastrow, would be a lot clearer, and better if they just told us, and Bottas that they’d use any chance of getting Hamilton in front. Makes me again wish Mercedes had a strategist for each driver to maximize their race. Oh well.

          1. I don’t know. It almost reads as if it was ham overstating his tire deg that forced their hand.

          2. Given Red Bull’s message to Verstappen about Hamilton’s blisters being “circumferential” I think it’s fair to say Hamilton genuinely had a tyre problem and he wasn’t exaggerating about it in the lead-up to the team orders.

    2. … And the messages that bottas needed to overtake verstappen didn’t make sense to me…. An attempt to damage Bottas’ tyres? To allow Hamilton to pass later on?

      Or am I being cynical?

  3. These radio transcripts provide a much clearer insight into how teams actually try to micro manage the races from start to finish.

    I have no problem with fuel saving but the tyre saving is depressing.

    Mercedes strategy guys sounded geauinly worried about the condition of LH’s rear tyres, as confirmed from Redbull and Ferrari- telling SV to try and take advantage. I now completely back the decision 100%. SV would have mounted a serious challenge if they had left LH behind VB.

    KMag does himself no favours by trying to be too stubborn esp ignoring blue flags to the point his team is begging him to move over. He just needs to pick the right battles, he was doing Ferrari/SV no favours.

    Was Kimi even in this race?

    1. Ah who do get in bed with for an edit button Keith?

      My typos are worse than KMags driving.

    2. @lums

      I have no problem with fuel saving but the tyre saving is depressing.

      And by no means are all of those messages included, just a few examples of the more striking ones.

      1. Im not surprised. How can we expect a race long battle when a single attack on Seb pretty much reduced Lewis’s tyres to cheese.

  4. These transcripts are great, even better than they used to be! Good job guys!

    1. @nanotech You’re welcome Mike, thanks very much.

      1. Same from me👍🏻 Really good reading!!
        What was that about MAG’s start? Didn’t understand that…

  5. Hey Keith, in addition for an ‘edit’ button, would it be too much to request that you include the lap numbers to the radio messages? I believe they used to be part of it before.

    Great work by the way.

    1. @lums Thanks for the suggestion. It’s not something I’m going to be able to reinstate any time soon but I would like to have it back.

  6. Missed the best one Keith:

    To Kimi: opposite to Hamilton
    Kimi: But I cannot see him

    1. @johnmilk – yeah, that was hilarious.

    2. Kimi calls out so much bull by his engineer…

      Another example is when he was sent out with 1 second until the track closed.

      1. @aapje That wasn’t bull – and it wasn’t a message for Raikkonen’s benefit:

  7. In the first one, what is K-Mags talking about regarding a “proper start”? Surely there isn’t a rule stating that the car can’t be going more than 60kph when it crosses the start line?

    1. There is a rule that cars must have their speed limiters on before they pass the pole position spot. Article 36.6 of the Sporting Regulations:

      When leaving the grid all drivers must respect the pit lane speed limit until they pass pole position.

      This in theory prevents drivers from doing full practice starts as they leave the grid for the formation lap. Which could be a danger as there are still people standing close to the cars when they do that.

      My understanding is what’s happening is the pole sitter and the three drivers closest to him are able to male practice starts because they won’t reach the speed limit of 60kph (at this race) before they pass the pole position slot.

      If you rewatch the formation lap start from last weekend you can see the top four getting away noticeably more aggressively than the others.

      1. Perfect explanation! Thank you my good man!

      2. Thank you Keith, I was lost trying to understand that radio exchange.

    2. For the formation lap possibly?

  8. I’ve really missed these team radio transcripts, great to have them back. There’s just so much context that you miss out on only watching the race. The technical and team elements are so important to the sport it’s great to have this back as a resource to let fans really immerse themselves. I’m really glad I checked back in. Thanks!

Comments are closed.