Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2019

Hamilton says his “retire the car” call was to save engine mileage

2019 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he called for Mercedes to retire him from the German Grand Prix because he wanted to save mileage on his engine and gearbox.

The Mercedes driver called for a pit stop and told the team “retire the car” after he spun at turn one on lap 52 of the race.

Hamilton, who was unwell during the race weekend, admitted he had made the call partly because he “wasn’t feeling great”, but said his main priority was to save his engine and gearbox life.

“Mostly it was just thinking ‘OK, I’m dead last’,” he said. “I calculate the chances of me getting points and I think about how many races have we got left to do on this engine. I think could I save it with another 15 laps left of engine mileage? I can save the gearbox.”

He had fallen to 15th place and was 38 seconds behind the last car in the top 10 after his spin and pit stop.

“I start thinking of those kind of things and I’m like ‘don’t feel bad if you feel like pulling me in, guys’,” he explained. “But they said don’t, keep going, so I kept going. So that’s how I’m always thinking.”

Hamilton said he also reduces the number of laps he does in practice sessions to reduce how much he uses his engines.

“They say ‘you’ve got 23 laps in practice one’, I’ll do 20. But they’ll also say ‘no, we’ve calculated that you can do 23 laps, or even 24 laps, we’ve proven out the engine’. I’m still cautious.

“I’ll do 20, 21 just to make sure that when, for example, you come to a race and you have to go back to another engine, in some cases you do because it comes back out of the pool, usually I have less mileage on my engine than the other driver. Hopefully I won’t have any mishaps with the engine. So that’s what I’m conscious of, always.”

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Lewis Hamilton’s team radio after his lap 52 spin

To Hamilton:Hamilton presses the ‘pit’ button
We have your pit confirm
Hamilton:Let’s stop
To Hamilton:OK Lewis so box, box for new soft tyres. Let us know if you need a flap adjust.
Hamilton:Retire the car.
To Hamilton:Negative Lewis, negative. There’s always opportunities.
To Hamilton:Hamilton pits
So Lewis live pit stop we’ll go again. Another late Safety Car could give us an advantage.

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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...

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33 comments on “Hamilton says his “retire the car” call was to save engine mileage”

  1. It does sound like a bit of a lame excuse, though. Honestly, if one of them drivers ever decides to be blunt and just say “I was fed up with how the race went and saw no point in dragging on like that”, that’d be a big plus in my book.

    1. if one of them drivers ever decides to be blunt and just say “I was fed up with how the race went and saw no point in dragging on like that”, that’d be a big plus in my book.

      +1 to this.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      1st August 2019, 19:13

      But you are not alone. A whole team has been working their butts of and at this time have been going at it for weeks at a time. I think you owe it to them to keep fighting.

    3. After his 2016 mass of engine problems can you really fault him for his thought process?

      1. @megatron
        For being a poor loser in a team that has given him 4WDCs… Yes?

        1. @rethla Congrats on stupid response of the day

    4. Honestly, if one of them drivers ever decides to be blunt and just say “I was fed up with how the race went and saw no point in dragging on like that”, that’d be a big plus in my book.

      +2 to this. There’s no problem retiring the car for a given reason, as long as it is a frank one.

      1. @niefer One of the many things about your boy Piquet that I loved. If he was done with a race for whatever reason he would pull into the pits and get out. He would even take his helmet off and face the music.

    5. But if he had said that you people will still say his a sore loser or etc… sorry but no matter what this guys says you lot have an issue with it.

      1. No matter what one says against a driver, one of his fans will invariably complain that no matter what what their favourite driver says, all those meanies will complain about it, thus adding a layer of meta to the discussion in an attempt to silence it. Congratulations on a comment that isn’t just pointless, but pointless squared.

        1. what what

          If anyone feels the urge to comment “… in the butt”, please don’t.

      2. I think it’s worse for a black driver like Hamilton though. You can see it with Claire Williams too and that woman that ran Sauber for awhile. The sexism and racism here are just barely under the surface. A terrible driver like Hulkenberg will not get the same level of abuse even though he has been terrible for 10 years in F1.

        1. @darryn
          Hamilton: “Let me sing you a song about how me telling my team to retire the car was really a question and had absolutely nothing to do with all the other things I complained about.”
          Some people: Yeah, no, we’re not buying it.
          Darryn: Is because he’s black.

          Do I still have to formulate an evidence-based assessment of your intellect that amounts to an insult, or is it enough if I do it implicitly?

  2. Lol. Imagine if all drivers from 11 down decided to retire the car. They just don’t.

    1. @myleftnut Or they do and you just don’t know about it. Lol.

  3. Collantine wrote that Bottas went off on purpose to hide the fact that he couldn’t pass a Racing Point (yes really), but when Hamilton can’t make progress with the backmarkers and wanted to retire the car, there’s of course no similar face-saving conspiracy theory or mean comment. Just excuses that he was thinking ahead, sick etc.

    1. That’s not how I read the tweet. Keith pointed out that Bottas’ off happened to save him the embarrassment of not being able to pass Stroll (i.e. a silver lining), not that Bottas put it in the wall to avoid that. Honestly, if Bottas wanted to avoid that embarrassment (which is unlikely, it doesn’t seem like him at all), he could just box the car saying “something broke”, and that would have been far cheaper and safer.

      Please read the wording closely and carefully: “Did Bottas’s crash out of the race spare him the humiliation of finishing the race stuck behind Stroll”

      The operative bit there is “Bottas‘s crash” – i.e. the crash that Bottas experienced. @keithcollantine did not say “Did Bottas crash out …” which is your interpretation.

      Phrased another way, Keith is asking “Did Bottas’ retirement spare him the humiliation of finishing behind Stroll?”

      1. Claire Williams
        2nd August 2019, 7:16

        Agree .

    2. Collantine wrote that Bottas went off on purpose to hide the fact that he couldn’t pass a Racing Point (yes really)

      No he didn’t.

    3. @phylyp @John H @keithcollantine

      Apologies, I misread that to mean Bottas crashed on purpose.

      But point still remains that Bottas’ poor performance in overtaking worse cars is slammed to where how his horrible lack of skill is only saved for exposure by crashing out (not even a given), whereas when Hamilton did similar or even worse in the same race he doesn’t get slammed, but excused and justified, even though it is more than likely that his wish to retire was indeed to save face, even when this would have cost points.

  4. I’m not sure I believe that his reasoning for the radio call was quite so thought out. But I think Hamilton has probably been burned the hardest from engine reliability, so it’s possible.

  5. This is rubbish. He would have asked “shall we retire the car?” rather than the grumpy direct statement. Look I’m one of Hamilton’s fans, have been since 2007, but he’s not fooling anyone here. He should just admit it was a lousy weekend and move on! Alonso also wanted to retire the car many times, it’s not always a bad thing to sometimes feel like giving up… it’s called being a human being.

    1. i Would do ANYTHING possible to avoid being compared to mclaren era alonso…

      Him retiring a slow but running car still rubs me wrong 2 years later…. that’s loser material right there.

    2. Yet when Alonso gives grumpy radio statements he gets praised or etc…

      Yet when Hamilton gives grumpy radio statements he gets criticised and called childish, crybaby or etc…

      Double Standards isn’t it.

      1. The difference in this case is that Ham has tried to excuse his grumpiness with a layer of meaning that doesnt quite fit the situation.

        And personally, I think that Alonso’s cockpit revelations show him in a poor light and never do I laud him for them.

      2. The systematic flaw in your argument finds it surface realisation in your use of the passive voice. Yes, some people will invariably praise Alonso when he says something grumpy. And yes, some people will invariably criticise Hamilton when he says something grumpy. But since there are more than 1 people in the world, the logical conclusion is not “double standards, boo hoo”, but “different people find different ways to express their lack of mental complexity”. Also, by comparing Alonso’s and Hamilton’s comments like for like, we’re already pretty deep in false equivalency territory. Their radio communication is so different that you’d be hard pressed to find a somewhat knowledgeable F1 fan who wouldn’t be able to tell their messages apart just by reading the transcripts. In other words: People react differently to two drivers who say very different things very differently. Not quite eye-opening, is it?
        Look, I absolutely understand why you’re trying to dismantle a discussion you don’t like by addressing it on the meta level. It’s just that you’re really bad at it.

  6. Ham is well known for having off periods and off races, it just doesn’t take much for him to crumble and start crying to his mentors. Its all a bit ‘Carry On Racing’

    1. He’s also well known for calling it in during practice to save the engine. And turning down the engine whilst out in front or following. He spoke about turning it down when following Bottas at Silverstone. And he spoke at length about saving engines at the start of the season in relation to the three engine rule. Probably a bit difficult for you to have taken that in though.

  7. I can’t see why this is even being debated. Its not the first time Hamilton or any other team has retired a car when running in a distant position. And lets be honest, Hamilton finished out of the points until a disqualification of the Sauber team.
    No opportunities came again during the race, only after.
    For a driver in this new F1, the trade off is, running your engines hard to score a point or two vs having an engine fail when you are with a potential to win a race.

  8. Sensible attitude & strategic thinking. An engine failure has already arguably cost Lewis a world championship.

  9. Lets move on already.

  10. Awww, what a little princess he is. Not winning – Must retire.

  11. Classic Hamilton sulk when he doesn’t win.

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