Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2018

“It’s crazy we’re not in this race”: Hamilton’s full Mexican GP team radio transcript

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton’s drive to fourth place in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix clinched his fifth world championship title. But in total contrast to a season which has already yielded nine wins, he was never in contention for victory.

This complete, unedited transcript of Hamilton’s radio communications reveals how surprisingly difficult the race was for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton’s 2018 Mexican Grand Prix team radio transcript

Fluctuating track temperatures prompted some last-minute front wing tweaks on the grid.

PR To Hamilton: Radio check
PR To Hamilton: Current is loud and clear.
PR To Hamilton: Loud and clear from the garage.
PR Hamilton: Right now my diff entry is set at 12. It wasn’t meant to be there, right?
PR To Hamilton: Negative. I didn’t ask to touch it. Suggest you go back down to five.
PR Hamilton: What brake balance do you think we should have for turn four? Just got a bit further forward.
PR To Hamilton: Yeah normally we move it a couple of percent forward from turn one to turn four on the first lap. So Valtteri tried 53% into turn one and looked good.
PR Hamilton: With the diff exit should we have it at 12 or take it a bit down?
PR To Hamilton: I’d leave it at 12 today just to avoid any sliding from the rear inside.
PR Hamilton: OK. And diff init, should we go up to diff init nine or not?
PR To Hamilton: Init, stay at seven.
PR To Hamilton: And five minutes to formation lap.
PR To Hamilton: So Lewis I’ve left the front wing where it was when we got to the grid. Valtteri’s come down one hole compared to where he went to the grid.
PR Hamilton: How much are we down?
PR To Hamilton: You’re talking about relative front wing?
PR Hamilton: Yeah, since we started.
PR To Hamilton: Yeah we’ve come down one in total. Valtteri’s come down one in total. But the difference between us, we’re down half compared to him, he’s got the more forward brake bal.
PR Hamilton: Yep.
PR Hamilton: It’s feeling a bit cooler?
PR To Hamilton: Yeah we’ve now got the cloud cover. It’s going to bounce around like this a lot I think. I can’t see any break in the cloud from now on but the grandstand…
PR Hamilton: Is the wind in the same direction?
PR To Hamilton: There’s a slight tailwind into four but it’s very, very calm. Similar direction to what we’ve had all weekend.
PR Hamilton: Felt quite gusty through the Esses.
PR To Hamilton: Yeah track temp at the moment is reading 32, so still bouncing between 30 and 35 according to the cloud cover. Wind looks relatively calm at the moment, it shows a headwind through the Esses.
PR Hamilton: Tempted to put in half a hole.
PR To Hamilton: Yeah I’ll leave that up to you. Little bit of sunlight now but that’s going to disappear soon.
PR Hamilton: We’re half a hole down to him, right?
PR To Hamilton: Affirm.
PR Hamilton: But more rear bal. What do you think? I mean it felt a bit understeer in the high speed but you just changed the pressures, so…
PR To Hamilton: Yeah, affirm. It’s just…
PR To Hamilton: 90 seconds.
PR Hamilton: Put half a hole in.
PR To Hamilton: OK.
PR To Hamilton: So let’s go for that first bite point find. One minute.
PR To Hamilton: 45 seconds.
PR Hamilton: Just move me back just a little bit.
PR To Hamilton: 30 seconds. Go for the second bite point find.
PR To Hamilton: 15 seconds.
PR To Hamilton: Last car approaching the grid.

From third on the grid, Hamilton immediately passed slow-staritng pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo but had to give best to Max Verstappen at turn one. Worryingly for Mercedes, Verstappen soon began to edge away, while Hamilton was unable to draw clear of the other Mercedes.

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1 To Hamilton: So Ricciardo car behind, one second.
1 To Hamilton: So think about diff entry, think about diff mid. Ricciardo 1.4 behind, Verstappen one ahead.
2 To Hamilton: Lewis go strat mode three when you can.
2 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at two seconds. You can go HPP two position 10.
3 To Hamilton: We are minus 20 on rear tyres. You have scope on diff entry, diff mid.
3 To Hamilton: DRS has been enabled. Go HPP two position eight. Ricciardo behind at 21.7.
3 To Hamilton: So Vettel currently P4, Valtteri P5.
4 To Hamilton: Lewis can we have HPP two position six. Verstappen ahead doing 21.1, Ricciardo 21.3. Ricciardo 1.7 behind.
4 To Hamilton: So VSC, keep the delta positive, you are staying out.
4 To Hamilton: Lewis give us some feedback on balance.
4 Hamilton: Balance is OK. Little bit sliding on the rear.
4 To Hamilton: Copy. Let’s have the brake magic on.
4 To Hamilton: So incident at your right-hand side’s just Alonso pulled over.
5 To Hamilton: Shouldn’t take them long to recover the car.
6 To Hamilton: VSC ending, cancel magic.
6 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 1.2 behind.
6 To Hamilton: Lewis menu dash position two. Ricciardo a 22.0 with that VSC, gap 1.5.
6 To Hamilton: Think about coming down on your diff if you’ve got too much understeer.
6 Hamilton: Tyres are quite fragile.
7 To Hamilton: OK copy that Lewis. You are target minus one. Current lap seven.
7 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 21.3, gap 1.8, Verstappen 21.1.
7 To Hamilton: Suggest coming down on diff high speed.
7 Hamilton: Bono just leave me to it for now, I’ve got it.
8 To Hamilton: OK.

Hamilton wasn’t left to it for long as it soon became clear he needed a fresh set of tyres. Mercedes were the first of the front-running teams to bring their drivers in, and it soon became clear they were struggling with their rubber.

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8 Hamilton: Left-front is opening up.
8 To Hamilton: OK copy.
8 To Hamilton: So Verstappen 20.9, Ricciardo 21.6, gap to Ricciardo 1.9.
9 To Hamilton: Go menu dash position three.
9 Hamilton: Front’s opening a lot.
9 To Hamilton: Copy that, Lewis.
9 To Hamilton: Target minus three. Starting lap 10.
9 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 21.9, gap 1.6.
10 Hamilton: The car’s not turning.
11 To Hamilton: OK, copy, it won’t be long.
11 To Hamilton: Strat mode 10, box, box.
11 To Hamilton: So racing Hulkenberg on exit, we’ll need to pass Sainz on Track
11 To Hamilton: So Sainz in the pit lane
11 To Hamilton: Out lap critical, Hulkenberg with traffic.
11 To Hamilton: B-bal for turn one.
11 To Hamilton: Hulkenberg car behind.
12 To Hamilton: So safe to Ricciardo by 1.4.
12 To Hamilton: Ricciardo in the pit lane now.
12 To Hamilton: Strat mode three.
13 To Hamilton: And we are going to the end so normal tag level, tag one.
13 To Hamilton: Verstappen in the pit lane now.
13 To Hamilton: So Verstappen ahead three seconds.
13 To Hamilton: Just think about going up on entry and mid.
13 To Hamilton: Check diff entry, it’s an error.
14 To Hamilton: So Verstappen car ahead, Raikkonen car ahead of him, he is yet to stop.
15 To Hamilton: So Raikkonen 1.9 ahead, he is yet to stop, used ultra.
16 To Hamilton: And Ricciardo car behind.

Hamilton managed to pass Kimi Raikkonen, who was still running on older tyres, but early in his second stint he realised his tyres weren’t going to last. Ricciardo began to close in again, but a Virtual Safety Car period triggered by Carlos Sainz Jnr’s retirement gave Hamilton some breathing space.

16 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 0.6 behind us.
17 To Hamilton: And Ricciardo has come through as well.
18 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 1.2 behind.
18 To Hamilton: So Verstappen 20.4, Ricciardo 22.5, gap to Ricciardo 2.4 seconds.
18 Hamilton: How’s Valtteri getting on with that tyre?
19 To Hamilton: Valtteri has also stopped, he is progressing well on the super. His ultra also dropped so just need to look after this one.
20 To Hamilton: So Ricciardo is a 21.9, gap 2.5.
20 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 21.8, gap 2.3.
21 To Hamilton: And HPP three position one.
21 Hamilton: This tyre doesn’t feel great.
22 To Hamilton: Copy. Ricciardo 21.5, gap 2.4, update us on your tag mode.
22 Hamilton: This honestly doesn’t feel like a tyre that can go [to the end]
22 To Hamilton: OK copy. The only other option we have is another ultra. Didn’t go too well.
22 Hamilton: The front is opening a little bit.
23 To Hamilton: OK copy. Ricciardo’s a 21.3, gap’s 2.1.
23 To Hamilton: HPP shift position four.
24 Hamilton: Struggling, man.
24 To Hamilton: So Ricciardo at 1.4. Last lap was a 21.4.
24 Hamilton: My left-front is opening up.
25 To Hamilton: OK Lewis so tyre appearances looks similar to others around us. We’ll update you in about 10 laps’ time if the plan changes.
25 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 21.4, gap 1.6.
25 To Hamilton: So a lot of backmarker traffic coming up.
26 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 21.7, gap 1.5.
26 Hamilton: Left-front opening a lot.
26 To Hamilton: Copy that last message Lewis. Others are being affected too.
26 To Hamilton: Ricciardo’s at 21.9, gap is 1.8.
27 To Hamilton: Ricciardo 22.1, gap 1.7.
28 To Hamilton: Ricciardo a 22.8, gap 2.7.
29 Hamilton: Big vibration from the fronts, big blistering.
29 To Hamilton: Copy.
29 To Hamilton: We’re going to have yellow, yellow.
30 To Hamilton: VSC, VSC, keep the delta positive.
30 To Hamilton: And brake magic on.
30 Hamilton: These fronts are really stuffed.
30 To Hamilton: Copy Lewis we’re seeing a lot of that on other cars as well, Ricciardo and Vettel.
30 Hamilton: Are we coming in?
30 To Hamilton: Negative, staying out, staying out.
30 To Hamilton: So Perez leaving the pit lane now.
31 To Hamilton: Just keep an eye on that front-left caliper.
31 Hamilton: Times been OK so far? Delta segments?
31 To Hamilton: It’s all been good, all good.
31 To Hamilton: VSC ending, cancel brake magic.

After the VSC period Sebastian Vettel passed Ricciardo and soon began to chase down the increasingly tyre-troubled Hamilton.

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31 To Hamilton: You’ve got Perez behind who’s a lapped car, he is on used ultra, he just stopped for those. Ricciardo gap to him currently three seconds.
32 Hamilton: Lost the tones.
32 Hamilton: You guys there?
32 To Hamilton: Copy Lewis, we’re just having a look into it.
32 Hamilton: It’s come back.
33 To Hamilton: OK copy.
33 To Hamilton: Gap to Ricciardo 3.8.
34 To Hamilton: So Vettel now the car behind, 4.1 seconds.
35 To Hamilton: Lewis go menu dash position two. Vettel is a 21.3, gap 4.0.
35 Hamilton: You guys, left-front’s going to be bald.
35 To Hamilton: OK copy.
35 To Hamilton: Go menu dash position three. Vettel was a 20.9. Gap at 3.3.
35 Hamilton: I can’t manage that time.
35 To Hamilton: Copy Lewis we understand.
36 To Hamilton: So Vettel at 20.7, gap 2.4.
36 Hamilton: Feel like I’m driving bald tyres.
36 To Hamilton: Copy, understood.
37 To Hamilton: OK Lewis so SAN mode two. Target minus 12.
37 To Hamilton: So Vettel 1.3 behind.
38 To Hamilton: Vettel at 0.9.

Vettel made his way by Hamilton, who was soon alarmed to discover Ricciardo was taking over a second per lap out of him.

38 To Hamilton: Lewis we’ve got Ricciardo behind, six seconds, he was 21.5 last lap.
38 Hamilton: Yeah.
40 To Hamilton: Ricciardo a 21.7, gap is at 4.4.
40 Hamilton: How’s it gone from six seconds to 4.4?
40 To Hamilton: Ricciardo’s pace is picking up so the fronts may have cleaned on his car.
40 To Hamilton: We have reports of debris between turns three and four.
41 To Hamilton: Ricciardo a 20.7, gap at 3.2.
41 Hamilton: You’re either giving me the wrong times, man, I just did a 21.8, how can he gain a second in a lap?
41 To Hamilton: Ricciardo a 20.8.
42 To Hamilton: Ricciardo a 20.9, gap 2.3.
42 Hamilton: Big vibration.
42 To Hamilton: Copy that Lewis we’re monitoring the vibrations.
42 Hamilton: Is anyone else struggling like this?
42 To Hamilton: No I think it’s just you and Valtteri, Lewis, that’s struggling. Ricciardo a 21.2, gap 1.5.
43 To Hamilton: So Ricciardo will have DRS.
44 Hamilton: Can’t see him.
44 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 0.4.
44 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 0.9.
45 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 0.5.
45 To Hamilton: Ricciardo at 0.7.
46 Hamilton: Got fucking nothing left, guys. These tyres are dead.
46 To Hamilton: Copy, Lewis, we’re looking at the options.

When Ricciardo passed Hamilton, Mercedes bowed to the inevitable and brought him in for a second stop. Realistically his hopes of beating the Red Bulls or Ferraris were now over.

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46 To Hamilton: OK Lewis so box, box.
46 Hamilton: Put more front wing in. Put a hole of front wing in.
46 To Hamilton: Copy.
47 To Hamilton: Out-lap normal. Got 24 laps remaining.
47 To Hamilton: You will be all clear on exit.
47 Hamilton: Valtteri struggling like me?
47 To Hamilton: Exactly the same.
47 Hamilton: Just floating around on these tyres.
47 To Hamilton: OK copy Lewis. So Valtteri is in the pits now. Vettel has also stopped for the ultra.
47 To Hamilton: Lewis so we have Raikkonen doing 20.8 on 30-lap used super. He’s just on our pit window. Just on our Safety Car window, correction. So it’s a long way to go on this tyre. 22 laps remaining.
47 Hamilton: What position am I?
48 To Hamilton: Currently P5. There’s no threat from behind, Lewis, we just need to get these tyres ramped in very slowly, treat them well.
48 Hamilton: I’ve actually been treating all the tyres well, they’re just going off.
48 To Hamilton: So we’ve only got Ricciardo and Raikkonen who’ve remained with the one-stop.

Following his second stop Mercedes initially tried to keep within range of Raikkonen to stand a chance of jumping the Ferrari if the Safety Car came out and he pitted. But Hamilton wasn’t convinced this was worthwhile. He only needed seventh to be certain of the title even if Vettel won the race.

48 To Hamilton: OK Lewis go strat mode three we’ll just use the PU, we just want to keep Raikkonen inside our Safety Car window. See what we can do with the cars just outside our pit window, Ricciardo yet to stop.
48 Hamilton: What times are they all doing?
49 To Hamilton: So Raikkonen is a 21.3 at the moment but don’t want to stress the tyres too much.
49 Hamilton: I don’t really want to push to the end.
49 To Hamilton: Copy Lewis so we’ve just got Raikkonen on our Safety Car window.
50 Hamilton: Is that really important right now?
50 To Hamilton: Something’s definitely not right when I’ve got fresh tyres and I can’t match their times.
50 To Hamilton: Copy Lewis. Just keep the PU turned up and look after the tyres.
51 Hamilton: Were the tyres finished?
51 Hamilton: The super-soft?
51 To Hamilton: Affirm, they were.
51 To Hamilton: Raikkonen was a 21.1.
51 Hamilton: Is Valtteri doing the same thing?
52 To Hamilton: Affirm, that’s all he’s got.
52 Hamilton: The left-front’s opening already.
52 To Hamilton: OK copy Lewis let’s just focus on the management then. Keep it strat three.
52 Hamilton: Where is the damage being done? I’m not pushing through corners.
52 To Hamilton: OK copy Lewis. You can go to strat mode six, just need to manage this to the end.
52 To Hamilton: No threat from behind. Valtteri 18 seconds, he’s doing 21.7.
53 To Hamilton: Valtteri doing 22.0, gap is 18 seconds.
53 Hamilton: Is his front tyre opening as well?
53 To Hamilton: Yeah copy Lewis exactly the same.

With 16 laps to go Hamilton’s third set of tyres were dropping off. He was soon losing ground to Verstappen more quickly than Raikkonen, whose tyres were older than his.

55 Hamilton: What’s happening up front?
55 To Hamilton: OK Lewis so we’ve got Verstappen P1, just in free air. Ricciardo P2, Vettel has converted to a two-stop, he’s just behind Ricciardo.
55 Hamilton: It’s crazy that we’re not in this race. Car is just… got no grip.
56 To Hamilton: Yeah copy Lewis, we’re feeling the same.
57 Hamilton: Even driving this slow I’ve still got not grip.
57 To Hamilton: OK copy. Go menu dash position two.
57 Hamilton: How’s Valtteri getting on?
57 To Hamilton: Valtteri’s a 24.0. Gap is 20.2.
58 To Hamilton: I think Valtteri’s struggling both axles.
59 Hamilton: Are we the only ones in the race having this problem?
59 To Hamilton: Only ones out of the top six.
59 Hamilton: Every time I’m pushing it’s graining.
60 To Hamilton: Just keep an eye out for oil, Ricciardo may have PU issue.
60 To Hamilton: So confirmed, Ricciardo PU issue.
61 To Hamilton: So we’ve got a yellow down at turn three.
61 To Hamilton: VSC, keep your delta positive.
61 Hamilton: Could we have pitted for new tyres?
61 To Hamilton: Negative Lewis, we’d’ve been going to the hyper-soft.
61 Hamilton: How many laps are left?
62 To Hamilton: There’ll be nine when you cross the line.
62 To Hamilton: Cancel magic, VSC ending.
62 To Hamilton: We are all clear behind, 12 seconds.
62 To Hamilton: You’ve got Grosjean who’s just pitted for a new hyper.
63 To Hamilton: Seven laps remaining.
65 To Hamilton: Six laps remaining.
67 To Hamilton: Four laps remaining.
67 To Hamilton: So got this group of backmarkers ahead. Verstappen, race leader, is 14 seconds behind.
67 Hamilton: Are we getting lapped?
68 To Hamilton: Just depends on progress you make through backmarker traffic.
68 Hamilton: I don’t even know if the tyres are working.
68 To Hamilton: Probably not, Lewis, probably not.
69 To Hamilton: You’ve got three to go.
69 Hamilton: How’s Valtteri doing on the hyper?
69 To Hamilton: Valtteri’s now in the 21s so that’s also gone off.
70 To Hamilton: Valtteri still 19 seconds behind.
71 To Hamilton: One more lap.

Despite a gruelling race in which he came close to being lapped, Hamilton survived to the end and clinched his fifth world championship title.

71 To Hamilton: That’s it Lewis! That’s P4 and the 2018 world championship! Five-time mate! Five times!
71 To Hamilton: Championship wasn’t won today, mate but it was won through a season of solid work and some fucking great driving.
71 To Hamilton: OK Lewis if you can go HPP eight to 13. And strat mode 12. You’ll be going to the stadium.
71 Hamilton: Thank you guys so much for all your hard work. That was a tough weekend but as you say it’s a whole year of great work.
71 To Hamilton: Yeah well done Lewis. Stop there in the stadium and take the applause of the crowd.

Hamilton was also played a pre-recorded message from actor Will Smith at the end of the race which said: “Hey Lewis, congrats man! That’s how you do it, baby. Just like I taught you, that’s how you do it, just like that, that how you supposed to drive.”

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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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22 comments on ““It’s crazy we’re not in this race”: Hamilton’s full Mexican GP team radio transcript”

  1. Interesting.

    1. Yeah, from the clips that are played out on air during the race I can see how a lot of people think Lewis is just whinging lots to his engineers, but when you see a full transcript like this you can see there is a lot of back and forth and they’re really trying to work through the issues.

  2. Wow, that is some good insight. This, coupled with the radio transcript from Verstappen’s qualifying brings a whole new dimension to the Grand Prix. Thank you and keep it up!

  3. Awesome stuff thanks :)

  4. We’re going to have yellow, yellow….VSC, VSC, keep the delta positive….And brake magic on….VSC ending, cancel brake magic.

    It sounds as though they have a computer controlling the speed of the car under Virtual Safety Car conditions.

    1. I think it’s more so a type of brake mapping that helps keep the brakes/tires warm with minimal driver intervention. I would imagine a setting that would turn regen on high while perhaps lightly engaging/disengaging the carbon brakes throughout the VSC.

      Although such a system may be dangerously skirting the rules about traction control so… what do I know? I’m just a spectator and this is just conjecture lol.

      1. Yes, I did speculate on the meanings of the terms too. I hadn’t thought about traction control, but I had wondered if it sort of did … nah! The FIA can peruse the engine management software so that wouldn’t happen.

  5. Bald tyres. Nice.

  6. I’ve gone to F1 panel discussions in London on Wednesday, James Allison was there and he said they now know exactly what happened in that race and why. He didn’t want to go into details but I hope it comes out at some point.

  7. Awesome content. These team radio conversations give us fans (especially those who are relatively new ) very good insight on race management and execution. Quite amazing I must say!

  8. People used to call out Rosberg for needing ‘coaching’ in races, but as you can see it was also Hamilton.

    1. What??? Have you ever seen a full race radio transcript from Rosberg? I sure haven’t. This is pretty std chatter during a race especially when you consider what was at stake and the bad race the Mercs were having.

    2. Must be new to F1

    3. The reaching continues……

  9. digitlarurouni
    2nd November 2018, 12:54

    Dumb question I am sure. But how come they don’t broadcast these while the race is on?

    Is it because of the following:
    – rival teams will know what’s going on
    – too much chatter will distract fans from the race on tv?

    Epic work on getting the transcript out. Fascinating to no end!@

    1. Too much chatter for fans is the answer.
      Rivals teams hear all radio communications.

  10. To Hamilton: So got this group of backmarkers ahead. Verstappen, race leader, is 14 seconds behind.
    67 Hamilton: Are we getting lapped?

    being lapped.. that would have hurt as WDC.

  11. This is really superhuman, how can anybody talk that much and still be able to drive?

  12. NotArseneWenger
    3rd November 2018, 4:09

    Wow. No wonder drivers engaged in on-track battles with their competitors will sometimes say “leave me alone now”. This is too much natter-natter when one is strapped to a moving bomb driving at 300kph!

  13. iirc MotoGp rejected this kind of driver coaching and remains in a different league entertainment wise.
    At least we can start worshipping race engineers as well as drivers as they clearly make world champions in modern F1.

  14. Given the altitude affected the aero and combustion/power, could it be that Merc’s new and contoversial wheel/tire cooling that made Lewis world champion was also affected?
    This championship was always going to be about Mercedes getting Lewis the massive tire advantage he’s often enjoyed.

Comments are closed.