Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2019

Mercedes: Hamilton didn’t ask for wet weather tyres at “turning point” pit stop

2019 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton didn’t ask Mercedes for either type of wet weather tyre at the pit stop which he described as the “turning point” in his race.

Hamilton, who led the early stages of the race but crashed after switching to slicks tyres as more rain fell, said his race started to go wrong “when they put slicks on when it was still wet”.

However Mercedes trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin pointed out the team had only been discussing which type of slick tyre to fit, and not whether to take intermediates or full wets.

“The conversation we were having with him was actually about the medium,” said Shovlin. “We thought it was going to get drier, that’s what we were reading into the weather forecast and the medium was the only tyre we were comfortable taking to the end.

“Lewis was actually saying that tyre is too hard, and that was why we put him on the soft tyre. We know now that we should’ve been having the conversation about going to the intermediate tyre but at the time what we were discussing with Lewis was just medium or soft.”

Shovlin admitted Mercedes’ later decision not to pit Hamilton when Nico Hulkenberg crashed was a mistake.

Mercedes left Hamilton out because he had a five-second time penalty which they did not want to serve under a Safety Car. “We did talk about serving the penalty under the Safety Car, but we were concerned we’d drop behind some midfield cars, we weren’t sure how quickly we would clear them,” said Shovlin.

“But with hindsight it would’ve been better to do that. That would’ve been better than what we did.

“However, the really clever decision would’ve been to do something very similar to Stroll. We would’ve come in before the Safety Car had finished, serve the penalty, fitted the soft tyres, but we would’ve been one of the first cars on soft tyres and that would’ve actually given us the best result overall.”

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Hamilton’s radio messages from his pit stop

To Hamilton:OK Lewis so box, box.
Hamilton:These tyres are worn anyway.
To Hamilton:Copy. Verstappen dry, as is Valtteri.
Hamilton:Which tyre?
To Hamilton:So medium for both cars, Bottas and Verstappen.
Hamilton:It doesn’t sound like the right tyre.
To Hamilton:It’s the tyre that will get us to the end. Menu wet position one.
To Hamilton:Stay out, stay out, stay out. Sector three very slippery.
Hamilton:Sector three? It’s still wet.
To Hamilton:VSC, VSC, keep the delta positive. So box, box, we are going to go to the soft tyre. Cars are faster on dry tyres.
Hamilton:Yeah I don’t think it’s a medium, man. Way too ahrd a tyre.
To Hamilton:We are going to go to the soft.
Hamilton:And make sure you’re positive on the delta.
To Hamilton:Hamilton approaches the Motodrom,
So still box, box.
To Hamilton:Keep delta positive.
To Hamilton:Box is slippy.
To Hamilton:Hamilton leaves the pits.
So the VSC has ended.
To Hamilton:So you’ve got Grosjean, Magnussen on exit.
To Hamilton:Leclerc has gone off, yellow turn 16, 17.
To Hamilton:Leclerc was on soft so slippy sector three.
To Hamilton:Safety Car, Safety Car, keep the delta positive.
Hamilton:It’s still slippery as hell, man.
Hamilton:Hamilton approaches turn
This tyre feels risky.
To Hamilton:OK copy.
Hamilton:Hamilton goes off at turn 16 and hits the barrier.Box, box, I lost the fricking wing.
To Hamilton:Yep. Inter? You want inter?
Hamilton:Yes, man.

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50 comments on “Mercedes: Hamilton didn’t ask for wet weather tyres at “turning point” pit stop”

  1. …Here comes the torches and pitchforks for LH…
    *Grabs popcorn for comments*

    1. No torch but a face palm.

    2. lewis was told ”cars are faster on dry tyres” which was a lie.
      that probably influenced lewis choice.

      1. His comment was that he didn’t think it was time for dry tires, but he assumed the pit wall had more information than he did.

  2. Hindsight is a beautiful sight.

    1. Yes, if you watch the whole thing Shov goes on to say in hindsight- that the best strategy was to go inters-SC-inters-SC-softs. And no one did that.

      1. @riptide
        Yeah, and the major reason for no one doing that is that no one knows how to use a crystal ball. Had the wind blown in a very slightly different direction, Leclerc’s and Hamilton’s switch to slicks could’ve been the race-defining moment in their favour. Or in Verstappen’s, as he was on the harder compound and would’ve been able to keep going without needing to preserve his tyres. But then the combination of a few drops of rain and a Safety Car meant that continuing on slicks was unthinkable.
        In a similar vein, Stroll’s pit stop was nothing but a coin flip. He was 14th and last but one on the track, so he had nothing to gain by continuing on a reasonable strategy. It just so happened that the track evolved the way it did, but that was by no means predictable. It was still pretty wet when he pitted, and again, a very minor change in the direction the wind was blowing could’ve brought a few drops of rain to the track again, or the track could’ve dried just that little bit more slowly, or the Safety Car could’ve stayed out just that one lap longer – shock freezing his tyres instead of allowing him to catch the back of the queue and immediately keep pushing – and that gamble wouldn’t have paid off. There was a big chance of this gamble ending in a Leclerc/Hamilton moment for Stroll, to the surprise of absolutely no one. But it didn’t. And that’s pretty much all that can be said about the circumstances.

    2. What actually was the difference between slicks and intermediates?

      Surely caution should have been the watch word. In those conditions with their advantage
      it would have made sound judgement to drive to avoid DNF.

      Given the pace of the Mercedes, running with intermidiates would kept them at least on par.
      The only question would have beeen how long the intermidates would last in drying conditions.

      Everything was ok up till lap 47 and then it all went pearshape…
      As for the radio conversation, Lewis would surely have defered judgment of the coming weather to his engineers.

      1. Unfortunately there are not “safe” options in the situation. If the track was really drying and you were on inters, you would be losing many seconds per lap, plus the time to stop to change onto the dry tires. You have to get it right, and alot of guessing goes into that with the weather. See Stroll.

        1. Kind of – the conditions were just hovering on slicks being OK, making “wait and see” a viable choice (which is exactly what Lewis/Merc were doing to begin with).

          The debate they did have, soft vs medium was probably sensibly resolved in favour of soft. What actually played out though was that they ended up with a SC as soon as they stopped, making it hard to bring the softs in and letting the track deteriorate (not sure if the rain actually worsened, but trundling around slowly wouldn’t help). Given that the field swapped back to inters, its fair to say that softs (or any other variety of slicks) were not a good change.

          This one was a really tricky call to make, and although they collectively ended up looking a bit daft (this is the polite version of what I wanted to type :) ), its not really a howler. Not taking the penalty cheaply under SC is another matter, but I suppose they don’t get a lot of practice at making that kind of call.

          The article has a bit of a strange title. Lewis said at the time that he didn’t overrule the team (and regretted it), albeit with the rather good reason that the team has weather radar and spotters, while the car doesn’t. Maybe they’ll approach it differently in future.

  3. The sooner this farce of race is forgotten the better.

    1. It will be forgotten never.

    2. Too true. All I’ve heard is how great the race was. That’s nonsense. If I wanted to see cars spinning into the fence, I’ve had watched something else.

      Some of the overpaid, hyped up team strategists were found out. It’s a simple job when the sun is out, but beyond the capabilities of the Mercedes team when the weather went off script. Toto says he’s got problems with drivers, but this time the pit wall team lost the race – and not for the first time.

    3. @dallein
      Maybe this isn’t the right sports for you then

    4. How long did it take you to forget Vettel’s mistake last year?
      Here Hamilton is throwing the team under the bus as usual and people defending his mistake. It was Hamilton who crashed all by himself under safety car. Not seeing anyone laughing like the did at Vettel. Funny how some are treated differently to others.

      1. But do not forget it was Ericsson who caused the spin.

      2. when did lewis throw his team under the bus.
        he took responsibity for his mistake..
        just like the strategist should take responsibility for his.
        lewis was leading the race comfortably up until he was put onto the wrong tyre.
        then they didn’t pit him after that when they should have.

    5. @dallein It’s obvious by now that you didn’t like this race, but allow us to remember and enjoy this GP.

    6. Boy, you really got hurt, eh? Good thing summer recess is on the brink.

    7. It’s the best race of the last 8 years, sorry for you, or no, not really sorry, but it’ll be always remembered by any serious f1 fan.

    8. It’s the best race of the last 8 years, sorry for you, or no, not really sorry, but it’ll be always remembered by any serious f1 fan.

  4. The problem was that red bull choreographed the other pitstops by choosing the slicks. The rest followed. Even when Ver showed the yellow tire was not the right choice.
    But he survived where others failed.

    1. That is the thing that is being overlooked here. Red Bull are so good at forcing other people’s hands in races, they very often stop in order to force other teams to run slightly less than optimum strategies in order to improve their result. They did it again on Sunday and it paid off massively for them.

      1. tbf max only pitted because he spun
        it just happened to be the perfect time.
        if max hadn’t of spun,he probably wouldn’t have pitted when he did.

        1. @mark
          Tbf MV spun because he was on the yellows, it started to rain harder and they had to switch back. (Like everyone else on the track.) His spin contributed nothing to him pitting.

  5. This is a bit odd, the headline hints to a back and forward between Hamilton and Mercedes, but the article itself is just a normal explanation of the choices made in the weekend

    or is it just me?

    1. Not just you. I think the article has been laid out so you jump to a (wrong?) conclusion.

      1. Rickie Nurse
        31st July 2019, 16:59

        That is so correct, that is why it is good to not only read, but to be able to comprehend. I agree with you.

    2. @johnmilk The article makes sense to me. Mercedes are right that Hamilton didn’t complain about going on to a non-wet tyre, just that he wanted softs not mediums (which also proved a mistake). However it reads to me that he’s doubtful about coming off inters and sounds exasperated that his intuitiion proved right after the crash. But that’s where he should have just said he wanted inters, going by instinct.

      1. @david-br yes it makes sense, just wondering the difference in tone between it and the headline

        but it could be me…and @riptide…and @phylyp

      2. @david-br – no dispute about the article, it is how the title has been framed that is … odd, let’s say, for want of a better phrase. @johnmilk

        “Mercedes: Hamilton didn’t ask for wet weather tyres” – carries a connotation that “well, he should have asked for rain tyres if he felt the slicks were the wrong choice”, especially when juxtaposed with an article with Hamilton’s statement that: “Race went wrong when we put slicks on in the rain“.

        However, the article is factually correct in pointing out that everyone discovered that slicks were the wrong choice only after they sent him out on it. While not as clickbaity as some past titles, this title has again leant a little towards that line.

        1. @johnmilk @phylyp I thought the ‘quit’ (rather than ‘retire’) headline to yesterday’s article was a bit of an enticement for the anti-HAM brigade, as it proved, but on this point I think it’s factual enough, and, let’s face it, Mercedes aren’t going to openly challenge their lead driver over the decision, but they do seem to be defending themselves. As he pitted, I was thinking ‘keep on the inters’ because the rain was clearly not going away. Hamilton more or less said he felt he should have stayed on inters, but ‘the guys in the garage know more’. It just reminded me of way back, China 2007, when it was obvious he had to get rid of the worn out tyres but didn’t just take that decision for himself. And it cost him a debut season championship.

        2. I think it is rather a reaction to what Hamilton mentioned in interviews after the race – as is mentioned in the article, Hamilton said “they put slickss when it was still wet” insinuating that he would have chosen wet tyres/intermediates at that moment when that is just not true.

          Seems the team found it important to confirm that rather both the pitwall AND the driver missed this opportunity @phylyp, @david-br, @johnmilk since media will have reacted to Hamilton’s quote by asking them why they did not do as the driver had wanted.

          1. Hamilton said “they put slickss when it was still wet”

            Nassty slicksses

          2. “Seems the team found it important to confirm that rather both the pitwall AND the driver missed this opportunity”

            Mercedes always explain the logic behind their in-race decisions post-race, after every race. Usually with Vowels or Shovlin. This is not a one-off to counter what their driver has said.

          3. @nase – what doesssss it have in itsssss pocketsesssss? Another sssset of sssssslicksssss?

            @bascb – agreed.

          4. Give me my ssslickssess … :-)

      3. It makes sense as they had been discussing the dry tyres for several laps before the rain began to increase just as he was being called in

      4. Hamilton didn’t ask for any tyres. The team suggested mediums and he said that was too hard, and indicated that the track was still wet. Technically, both sides are talking different things and drawing different conclusions. Much like the confusion over stopping for tyres at Monaco a few years back.

  6. All i can understand from the team radio transcript above is that team was trying to convince Lewis to switch to dry tyres as Max and Bot have switched. He was still unsure wether it was the right moment to change to slicks.
    Also Lewis pulled a 9 second gap in the first stint so would have been fine if he waited a bit more. In the first round of pitstops Mercedes team could afford to pit Lewis a bit later and would have had more time to properly asses the conditions.
    Rare Poor performance by the Mercedes strategists.

  7. It was all too quick to judge. While this was happening, Verstappen was on medium tyres and angry at the team for it. It wasn’t the right choice, but then the rain came back anyway.

  8. Neil (@neilosjames)
    31st July 2019, 16:56

    I read the transcript as Hamilton not being entirely convinced by the idea of switching to any dry tyre, particularly the medium.

    On the subject of the medium… was amazed those things even saw the light of day, thought all the teams would consider them too risky with the track in that state.

    1. In hindsight it was daft, but the teams were thinking that if it continued drying up the medium was the tyre that would win the race.

  9. And what i take from this Team Mercedes failed. They’ll live and learn for the next one.

  10. you can tell lewis wasn’t convinced
    but merc only gave him a choice between dry tyres,so ofcourse he chose the softer of the two.
    but they should have waited a few more laps,since lewis was comfortably leading and still putting in good times.

    1. Exactly the point.
      The are both talking different things and both missing each others point.
      One of those things that happen that you sometimes can’t blame anyone for.

    2. Problem was that with the SC risk and changeable conditions he could easily have lost the lead or at least the advantage he had. Being on worn inters at a restart with a field full of cars on slicks and a drying track would have been interesting.

      The mantra Brundle always espouses is to be on the right tyre for the prevailing conditions and certainly for a few moments at least it looked like the slick might have been the right call.

  11. just realised lewis was told ”cars are faster on dry tyres” which was a lie.
    that probably influenced lewis choice.

  12. good people ( both fans and non fans of Lewis) even champions, their teams, their engineers etc at some point get it totally wrong. what happend happend, for the team its just another negative to learn from. we learn more from our mistakes than from when we get things right. mercedese and lewis WILL over come this very rare misfortune of theirs.

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