Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2019

Hamilton believes one stop would have worked after strategy “f***-up”

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said he could have made a single-stop strategy work after criticising his team’s decision to make two pit stops during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton switched from soft to medium tyres at his first pit stop, meaning he could have chosen to run to the end of the race without pitting again. However he said he “wasn’t surprised” he ended up making another stop.

“The team put me on a two-stop” he said, “so I knew already when they put the medium on that was going to be the case.”

During the race Hamilton questioned why the team put him on medium compound tyres instead of hard rubber, which he felt he might have been able to finish the race on. “That was a fuck up,” he told the team following his first pit stop.

Asked whether he could have reached the end without a second pit stop, Hamilton said: “With better guidance I think I probably could have.”

Hamilton ran a strong pace at the beginning of his second stint in an unsuccessful attempt to pull far enough ahead of Sebastian Vettel to be able to pit and come out ahead of the Ferrari.

“They said, when they put the tyre on, that we are going [to] a two-stop because the degradation is high. So then, the direction I was given in terms of having to try and close the gap to Seb, every time I was having to close this gap, [I] used the tyres quite a lot. In how I was using them, there was no way I was going to make it to the end.

“If I had, from the beginning, said we’re just going to eke it out and just see if we could manage it, then I could have just driven differently and, potentially, held it to the end. But [that’s] all in hindsight.”

Hamilton said he was unhappy about the amount of time he lost by running a longer first stint. “The surprise is that, every time you come out, by going long you end up fricking twice as far behind as you were before, which is twice as frustrating.

“I can’t see that, so I’m not aware of that, and I come out and I realise that I’ve just lost another 10 seconds and I’m like: ‘You could have told me. If you’d said I was going to come out a further 10 seconds behind – I was pretty much 22 seconds behind Valtteri – I would said no and would have come in earlier.’ So there’ll be some discussion I’m sure when we get back.”

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Keith Collantine
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107 comments on “Hamilton believes one stop would have worked after strategy “f***-up””

  1. Hamilton is a superb driver, great winner, but poor loser.

    1. Really? Show me a good loser and I’ll show a loser.

      He as every right to be annoyed, I would be, he was handed a crappy strategy once again and the team needs to up its game and allow there drivers to compete and not restrict him to spare the ego of the slower driver.

      1. +1 This is what really annoys me. Hamiton is carrying this team as far as championships go because – they must know this – Bottas isn’t good enough in a fight with the Ferraris. They could have swapped Bottas out for a more competitive driver. So this did seem designed to boost Bottas’s ego – at Hamilton’s cost.

        1. Well Hamilton will have won this race benefiting from a one stop strategy – at Bottas’s cost. Bottas was the one who was faster in practice qualifying and made a far better start to the race. For once, this was a weekend Bottas outperformed Hamilton in pretty much every area.

          1. It was me or Bottas had his front wing settings changed in his first pit stop? If so, that would explain why he started the race on the clean side of the track (different aero settings plus a good tow providing a great lap), some could argue “at Hamilton’s cost”. If I’m mistaken (watched the
            GP replay while babysitting my toddler) I would still argue whenever Bottas suffered to shake the Ferraris or Red Bulls off he pitted earlier despite being the slowest Silver Arrow, today they could had pitted Hamilton earlier, or at least in the same lap Vettel pitted, but…
            As some pointed here, there were times when Bottas couldn’t cope with the challenge, but Lewis was there to maximize the points tally, now that’s how he is being paid.

        2. +1 This is what really annoys me. Hamiton is carrying this team as far as championships go because – they must know this – Bottas isn’t good enough in a fight with the Ferraris. They could have swapped Bottas out for a more competitive driver. So this did seem designed to boost Bottas’s ego – at Hamilton’s cost.

          Spot on. In those races where Red Bull and Ferrari were by far the quickest cars, Hamilton kept Mercedes relevant. But the big glory win for the WCC is not even an option? Poor.

      2. Raikkonen is a good loser, Do we live in a world now where a former world champion is a “loser”?

        1. Come on now. Being a bad loser is one thing but calling out your team is classless.
          Go punch a hole in the wall and talk to the team in private before spouting off for all the world to hear.
          He needs to apologize – in public.

          1. Sorry, I didn’t realise Mercedes were such delicate little snowflakes that they can’t take fair criticism. Maybe all billionaire corporations should be beyond criticism, you know, because it hurts their poor feelings.

          2. Also, are you really suggesting that a person who punches a wall is more admirable than a person who uses their words… I bet you wouldn’t teach your children that lesson.

          3. Finally also… Classless??!! We’re talking about it on the internet … Let’s not throw stones in this greenhouse, we’re the most classless of them all

      3. Show me a good loser and I’ll show a loser.

        I hate this phrase so much. You can debate whether Hamilton or anyone else is a good or bad loser but there are plenty of great sportsmen/women that are always gracious in defeat. In no way does accepting defeat with grace make you a ‘loser’.

          1. Tell that to Roger Federer. The way he carries on when he loses it’s no wonder people will never regard him as a champion.

    2. Weird how when Vettel is unhappy after a race, he’s petulant and yet when Hamilton does it, it’s completely understandable…

      1. It felt like Merc wanted to give Bottas the win as he had performed well in FP1 and Quali. Whatever happened to letting the two drivers race. If Lewis had made the one-stop work let him do it. If Bottas could have got past him on the track after the second pit stop let him do it.
        Even if Hamilton’s tyres fell off the cliff the worst he could have done was finished third. If he stayed out he could have probably won. But we need to give Bottas the win seemed to be the attitude

      2. @petebaldwin That goes both ways, depending on who you ask.

    3. Hehe Hamilton once remarked there are no good loosers and he hates to loose.

      Being a bad looser is serving him well.

    4. Yeah true, but he got shafted by the team i reckon.

  2. The strategy worked fine, it just wasn’t designed to benefit Hamilton.
    It was intended to avoid a inter-team battle and secure a Merc WCC. Although to be fair he is right, if they had split strategies and put him on the hard there was a better chance of a Merc 1-2.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      13th October 2019, 14:12

      I doubt it. The harder tyre didn’t work for anybody. Most likely he would have switched a couple laps later again.

      1. Mercedes and Hamilton could have made the hard tire work. There is good reason to believe that.

        But hey even if it did not work, 3rd place was a given.

    2. Another thought.

      Hamilton is most frequently the benefactor of the “leading car at first pit stop rule”. Today Merc kept him from the opportunity to break that deal.

      Next season is likely to be more of the same close battle with Ferrari. If Merc and Hamilton are going to win the WDC they will likely need a truly helpful #2. Keeping Hamilton from poking Bottas in the eye for an unneeded victory might have been a smart move.

    3. They could just as well have done that with Bottas though @slotopen.

    4. Actually when they pitted Bottas early, they were doing him no favors. They made him cover Vettel, so the team them gave him his deserved win. I think it was all pretty fair.
      Lewis didn’t have the tires at the end, communication wasn’t good.

  3. How about win together, lose together? I can understand complaining during the race (even if annoying), as it is a stressful situation, but his lack of leadership when things don’t go his way is admirable for a nearly 6 times world champion. Doesn’t he remember what happened in Monaco or Hungary, when he was quick to complain to the team but found them to have the better perspective?

    1. They ruined his race, kept him in the dark about what they were doing, and made no apology. Hamilton has every right to be annoyed about the race management today.

      1. Hamilton could take a leaf out of Schumacher’s book. I’ve never been a Schumi fan, but it is admirable how I never saw him complain about how Ferrari conducted themselves, even during those hard first years before the title winning machine really got going.

        1. Hmm. but Schumacher demanded number one status and got it. Hamilton prides himself on not asking for number one status, but the other side of that coin is that he expects fair treatment on track, the chance to compete for the win. He didn’t get that, hence the clear annoyance during and after the race.

          1. On paper yes, but the difference in performance is similar between that of Scumacher-Barrichello. Realistically, Bottas is the number 2. Hamilton knows it, Mercedes knows it, Bottas knows it (he was elated by today’s win), the championship scoreboard knows it. Hamilton knows that this third place is of little consequence to the championship, so might as well play the team game on the day the team achieves their 6th consecutive title. Be understanding that the team thought it would be better that your number 2 got a win at last, and remember the other times they bent him over for you.

          2. Mark in Florida
            13th October 2019, 15:58

            (@david-br) David what would Hamilton say if the hard tire had caused him to lose position to others who were on softer rubber? Everyone knows that it’s very hard to pass in these cars especially if the cars have close enough performance. Who’s fault would it be then? Either way the team went with what they knew would give them the constructors championship. Hamilton has the driver championship wrapped up. Do you seriously think that Toto is going to allow Bottas to somehow knock Lewis out of it? I fully expect at some point in time to hear Valterri Lewis is faster than you let him through. Lewis is the defacto number one driver any time the other driver is being told to to move over or is getting the dodgy strategy the team is certainly favoring the number one guy. At least Ferrari was honest about it in Schumachers case.

          3. @Pedro, listening to the post-race interviews congratulating the team and saying you win some, you lose some, he has moved on already. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing (for us!) to go over in the race. I simply don’t understand what they were doing with Hamilton and seems to me they decided to ensure Bottas got this win early on. Fair enough, like you said, but Hamilton still has a WDC to secure.
            @Mark in Florida, he’d complain! But it would be a different issue, since it would be a miscalculation of optimal strategy, not confusing the strategies so the one he ended up with made no actual sense.

          4. @david-br

            Hamilton prides himself on not asking for number one status

            Why didn’t they sign Ricciardo then? In another post you’ve mentioned Lewis carries Mercedes. So would have Ricciardo and Verstappen.

          5. @bigjoe I don’t know why they didn’t sign Ricciardo. Certainly Mercedes didn’t like the intra-team frictions and factions that developed under the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry, but Ricciardo would surely be different in temperament and approach. I think they played safe, though. Too safe, IMO, given that they need another driver (other than VB) to take over from Lewis some day.

      2. @david-br

        Hamilton has every right to be annoyed about the race management today.

        Mercedes have more right to do what they did though.
        Maybe they promised something to Bottas?

        1. They didn’t need to do anything different as far as Bottas was concerned. He’d probably have won, deservedly. They just needed to have a coherent strategy for Hamilton – not keep him out for so long on the soft tyres and then sticking him on a 2-stop anyway. That cost him 14 seconds. And then refusing to explain anything when he questioned what the hell was happening. It was just disrespectful.

    2. I’m probably the biggest Hamilton fan, but even to me this is crossing a line. Throwing your team in front of the bus like this is disgusting.

    3. Monaco. Were Mercedes said they screwed up and should have put Ham on the harder tyre?

    4. Hamilton has to have an excuse when he loses. He claimed Bottas beat him in practice 2 because he got a massive tow.
      Thankfully, BOT beat him in qualifying and momentarily shut him up.
      Then BOT beats him in the race and again he comes up with an excuse blaming the team. Too bad they aren’t perfect like you HAM.
      I’m not surprised – this is the guy that hinted Merc sabotaged him the year he lost to ROS.
      A cancer when he’s losing.

      https://racingnews.co/2016/10/03/lewis-hamilton-claims-sabotage-blown-engine/

      1. Yeah, it’s totally normal for your teammates engineers to be caught working on your car after hours, not marking the work spreadsheet and then for the team to fire three members of the winning cars engineering team within months of their win and scrub their personal Twitter feeds, including the evidence that they did so.

        1. When did that ever happen?
          I never heard anything like that.

    5. Yeah Monaco was a crazy bad call.

      Also Hungary really. Mercedes were lucky it was Hamilton in that car and not Bottas. Hamilton was up to the task to push out quali laps for that long.

      Verstappen ran out of tyres well before the end of the race. Hamilton would have taken the win with much less risk if he had not made that extra stop.

      These are very bad calls that only were overcome by Hamilton’s superior race craft and not a sign of “Mercedes knowing better”.

  4. On this occasion Hamilton is absolutely right. It’s good to see that he wants to win. Funnily enough, I’m glad that he was behind Vettel. It was clear that he was making every effort to give it a go!

    1. Yup, good they finished 1-3, and showup the teams meddling incompetence.

  5. Mercedes’ strategy for Hamilton made literally no sense. But stranger was that the team didn’t seem to care. Dropping Hamilton from 6 sec behind Bottas to 20 sec was weird. I assumed they’d tell him to go easy on the mediums when he came out to reach the end of the race, but they immediately told him he’d be 2-stopping and to chase Vettel (which didn’t work out). Bottas deserved the win, but Hamilton deserved to be able to fight him for it. This was disrespectful treatment today.

    1. The only explanation that makes sense is to give Valtteri a bigger cushion in second place in the championship, Toto is his manager IIRC?

  6. I don’t understand why team principles don’t tell their drivers that there will not be a strategy discussion over the open airwaves. In this case after his first stop, someone should have told him that the stop was done and he just needed to get on the with job and any discussions would be held post race.

    1. @velocityboy Because, as Hamilton intuited during the race, the strategy benefitted Bottas alone. It didn’t even favour Mercedes as a team – shown by the fact they got a 1-3 not a 1-2. Get on with the job – of losing.

      1. @david-br that’s still no reason for a debate that everyone could hear. Initially he wasn’t asking for a strategy change, he was questioning and complaining about when he pitted and where he came out. Did he want the team to bring out their time machine, go back in time and change when he was pitted? The stop was done and complaining about it was not going to help or change anything. I understand that participating in a sporting event is emotional but discussing strategy over the air when everyone can hear seems like something that the team would prohibit.

        1. @velocityboy But I think they didn’t want the discussion not because they’d give away strategy – Ferrari already knew what Hamilton was doing because Mercedes had told him to chase Vettel as he was on a 2-stop! They’d have worked that out anyhow. They just didn’t want to tell him why they’d dumped him out of the race for the win – which is what Hamilton immediately realized. He wanted to change by altering strategy. They pay Hamilton to win races and championships – and only have him to do that, because Bottas never will. Just bad.

        2. @velocityboy discussing it on the radio is probably an effective way to get them to have a good hard look at themselves when they hand either driver such a poor strategy. I know it generally seems like it’s easier from the armchair, but I can genuinely say that over the past 4 races at least they’d have been far better off letting me run their strategy

          1. There is a reason Bottas came back to his engineer on the radio, checking that HAM was really going to be pitting. Didn’t see many question him about that, we could all see what he meant. Why is it different for Hamilton, same race similar reaction to finding themselves in a not clearly better situation after a stop? Do this often, and you get drivers wanting to second guess pit calls.

  7. Hamilton is absolutely right. Although Mercedes played a super safe game to win a Constructor’s title and paid some price (1-2 finish was easily possible). Now, let them both (Bottas and Hamilton) race how they want, Mercedes team, please!

  8. I’m a Lewis fan but I don’t support his views today. Bottas had the edge on him all weekend and how many times
    has Valterri been asked to step aside for HAM to the detriment of his own ambitions? Even in Singapore when Merc
    screwed up mightily strategy wise. On a day like today, your team’s won the constructors, your team has hardly put
    a dent, I think despite having the will to win as all these WDC egomaniacs do, just suck it up and let it slide. I get
    where HAM is coming from- IMO Alonso was worse than this, even calling his team ‘idiots’ at one point but comeon.
    Least we also forget, Bottas did enough all weekend to merit the favourable strategy in 50-50 situations.

    For me- on issue and if I was Toto I would *gently* remind him of previous times Bottas has also been sacrificed.

    1. But was the sacrifice for?
      How is keeping Hamilton behind Vettel a sacrifice that makes sense.
      The argument is not about even challenging for the win, it is about finishing and 1st and 2nd position for Mercedes.
      The stops for Bottas had already ensured he will be in 1st position once Hamilton stopped after the first pit cycle. So there was enough time to have Hamilton do a two stop race and push to finish ahead of Vettel because Bottas would be at least 12 seconds ahead.

  9. Welcome to Ferrari Lewis.

    1. Probably one of the reasons Ferrari would never hire him.
      If he is like this with a team that has been the best for 5 years, what would he be like at Ferrari?

      1. Why do you think the Mercedes team is performing at their best? I’ll give a hint, because their top driver is showing them how it’should be done.

        1. Laughable..
          Several drivers could do what HAM has done.

          1. e.g. Rosberg or Button.

          2. True, but apart from Verstappen they’re all retired or dead.

    2. Ahahaha ! Best comment ever =^^=

  10. To be honest… I think Mercedes told Hamilton to make a 2nd (and apparently unnecessary stop) because they told Bottas Hamilton WOULD stop (and because Bottas probably didn’t even try to catch Lewis then).

  11. I really don’t see the reasoning for all the complaints from Hamilton and his fanbase. The strategy of Mercedes drivers weren’t crucially different and I highly doubt mediums would’ve lasted for Hamilton to stop only once. Bottas was the faster of the two in all FP sessions, qualifying and the race, fair and square. Bottas won this round and let’s see how things pan out next time.

    1. Weren’t different? Huh, that is partly the problem, if they was going to 2 stop, they should have pitted him with Bottas, but no they left him out losing time, which only made sense if he was 1 stopping, after that they made a pointless second stop

    2. The crucial point you miss is that he was kept out long in the first stint losing loads of time and giving the impression they would do one stop. Why make a driver lose so much time when he is stopping twice.
      If this was Mclaren of 2012 I would understand, but this is Mercedes, a more efficiently run team.
      The strategy just didn’t make sense, it didn’t necessarily cost him the win, but it dropped him in another time zone.

    3. @huhhii When Hamilton came in for the 2nd stop, the tyre graphics showed that he had 70% left on all 4 tyres. He had already done 20 odd laps, so doing the remaining 11 would of been OK, IMHO.

    4. You think its only his fanbase that queries leaving him out to lose 10s and then still 2 stopping him? You imagine that pitting someone when he is faster than the others and only needs to do a dozen laps on mediums with plenty of tyre life left would only garner responses from the Ham fanbase? Take your anti-Hamilton blinkers off and you would see a lot more.

  12. They screwed hamilton over sky showed his degredation a few laps before and it was on 75% on all tyres he could clearly go to the end,Some people started on the same tyres and did 30 laps with full tanks so less on half empty was easily achievable.It was all designed to give bottas an easy win as payback

  13. I don’t think he could have beaten Bottas on a one-stop, but second looked fairly easy given the pace at the time.

    1. Bottas hardly closed the gap at all

      1. Because he was effectively leading the race when he’d had his 2nd stop. He’d been told that Hamilton would be pitting again. If this was going to be the case, Bottas had no need to push. He even said after the race that he was controlling his pace and pushing when he needed to. So i do think it is very likely that if he knew Hamilton was only stopping once, he will have caught Hamilton pretty quickly. And if he couldn’t get by, given the speed difference, i feel team orders will likely have gone ahead.

        1. @thegianthogweed Bottas wasn’t closing the gap before he was told about Hamilton’s strategy either.

          1. Yes, because he was in lots of traffic as soon as he came out. When he cleared that, he asked about Hamilton pitting. Then was understandable why the gap was not closing fast. He even said after the race that in he was controling the pace and only went faster when he needed to.

          2. Literally a lap after he pitted, and was already told beforehand Hamilton was going to pit twice. Save the engine for the next round.

            This should be obvious.

  14. I feel like maybe he could’ve won on a 1-stop, although Bottas was closing – but maybe this was Merc paying Bottas back for all the times he’s been a wingman. He was faster, made the better start, pulled the gap, it might be a bit harsh on him to lose out because of them (accidentally) given Hamilton the better strategy. Bottas coming back out into traffic and having to negotiate that kinda ruined the best of his fresh softs so he wasn’t making as much inroads into Lewis’ lead as they were perhaps expecting, and though he may still have caught him, it was easier to pit Hamilton expecting him to easily be able to overtake Vettel, but I guess they forgot the Ferrari engine factor.

    1. Hamilton had better race pace than Bottas but the point was that Bottas was bound to be miles ahead after the first sequence of pit stops. So Second position was possible for Hamilton.

  15. If Lewis was too be on a two stop strategy why extend his first stint to lose him so much time to the only 2 people he would be racing? It seems that the team saw an opportunity to get Bottas a win and simply tripped over themselves trying to make sure it happened. It looks as though Lewis still could have made it to the end without the second stop and might have at least held off Seb if not Bottas.

  16. Jonathan Hyland
    13th October 2019, 17:35

    Lewis could have one the race on a 1 stop strategy. He was 9 secs ahead of VB who was only gaining 0.3 secs a lap on Lewis with 13 laps left and Lewis’s tyres were only 30% worn according to the telemetry.
    Keeping Lewis out on a one stop would have given a Mercedes 1,2 and still the constructors championship.

  17. Hamilton is fourth fastest in qualifying, but of course, the strategy screw up is why he didn’t win.

    1. The strategy screw up is why he finished behind Vettel and so far behind the winner

    2. Agree..
      I think he senses his time of being on the top step at most races could be coming to an end.

    3. @warren2185 Drivers will sacrifice Q3 laptime for a better race pace.

  18. Lewisa is very fitting.
    I heard he’s very good.
    Lousy and sore loser for sure.

    1. That’s why he rarely loses.

  19. I don’t think people criticising Hamilton have fully thought through what occurred, particularly from his perspective.

    He’s normally up for trying a contrary strategy when behind, so going longer and doing one stop when the others are doing a two stop probably felt like a good bet. Then consider that after being brought in significantly later, he was put on the medium tyre and immediately told to push because he’d need to make two stops. That rendered staying out longer almost completely redundant, only serving to lose a lot of time.

    That’s a nonsensical strategy from the driver’s perspective, and they gave him no good reason for it. There was no benefit to himself or the team to give him that no man’s land strategy and that was clearly what irked him. Had they put him on the hard tyre and backed him to go to the end, he’d have given it a decent shot and even if the result had ended up the same I doubt he’d have been as unhappy.

    1. don’t think people criticising Hamilton have fully thought through what occurred

      They have. But are latching onto anything they can before a winter of depression after he wraps up number 6, poor sods.

  20. Maybe he should go to Ferrari and see a whole championships thrown away, not just the odd race.

    You have to take the rough with the smooth Lewis. You’ve been in the best team for all but one of your championships. You could actually afford to let Bottas have some wins. Mansell did it, but then again in 92 he was more dominant than you’ve ever been.

    1. Sure, that’s what Bottas wants, his teammate to bring him some sympathy wins…

  21. I know it was in the best interest for Mercedes to pit Lewis a second time, but, i think they ruined the race bringing Lewis in. Was looking pretty tasty at the end there with Bottas and Vettel catching him. Formula 1 annoys the heck out of me sometimes

  22. I wonder what the strategy would have been if LEC was behind BOT instead of VET? I’m thinking Mercedes would have put HAM in the mix to fend off LEC. Mercedes knew they could cruise to a 1-3 result and not have BOT pressed.

  23. Mercedes boffins still seem to underestimate what is humanely possible, especially when that human is LH

    1. Didn’t get your point.

      1. He means Hamilton is a beast and should have stayed out instead of pitting the second time. Mercedes shouldnt have told Bottas that Ham is definitely coming in for 2nd pit stop because they should have known Ham could last until the end of the race on the mediums. Which he could’ve quite easily it seems.

      2. Bottas only asked that question because he wanted to make sure he was going to win. But he shouldn’t have won that race so easily, he should have had to catch Hamilton. Pathetic end to an otherwise pretty exciting Japanese GP.

  24. Lewis should thankful that he’s driving for Mercedes otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about his pending 6th championship. Do I think Lewis is the best driver ever? nope. Lewis is the best driver on the best team in the turbo hybrid era, that’s all.

    1. Same could be said about schumacher and senna prost etc. All won in best car so by your logic they arent the best drivers either? What a dumb comment

    2. Ferrari 17′ and 18′ were bloody beasts as well.

  25. Mercedes pit strategy is inconsistent.

  26. Hamilton would have won if he stayed out, he was fast at the time and had capable tyres and Bottas wouldnt have stood a chance. Lets be real. (IF!!!) Bottas caught Hamilton at the end I would be in favour of Ham letting him through but I didnt see that happening tbh and it would have been a 1,2 anyway so what the bloody hell was the point? I really feel for Ham this race, he was screwed over. All for Bottas and perhaps fear of Bot’s engine reliability (even though Ham had to hammer his engine as soon as he made first pit stop) . Made me lose interest as soon as they brought him in with 11 laps to go, Ham seemed very quick and his tyres seemed fine… How annoying.

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