Ricciardo’s tactics inspired Hamilton’s race-winning strategy

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

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The strategy gamble which won the Mexican Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton was inspired by Renault’s tactics for Daniel Ricciardo.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team needed to gamble on a different approach and noticed Ricciardo, who was the only driver to start the race on hard tyres, was getting good lap times out of them.

“We knew that we had to take a risk,” said Wolff. “When you are starting third and sixth it is easier to come up with some bold strategies provided that you have a good car, which we had today, and fantastic drivers.

“We knew we had to do something different. Then we saw Ricciardo going long on the hard tyres with intriguing lap times. Then we had quite some discussion and at the end what James [Vowles, strategist] and his strategy partner opted for was to go long worked out.”

Hamilton wasn’t convinced by the strategy to begin with, and repeatedly warned his team they had made his first pit stop too soon. Mercedes put Vowles on the radio at one point to reassure him about the team’s approach.

“When you are out there in the car alone and you have not the visibility [of] what is happening around you it is, even for the best one, good to get reassurance,” said Wolff. “I think that is kind of a psychology that works.”

Wolff also praised Hamilton’s stand-in race engineer Marcus Dudley, who substituted for his usual engineer Pete Bonnington who was absent for personal medical reasons this weekend.

“[He did a] phenomenal job. Not easy managing Lewis in the race but it shows that we have a deep strength in the team. Bono stepping to the side for one race, handing over the baton. Marcus did a really good job together with Dom [Riefstahl, who took over from Dudley as performance engineer]”.

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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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5 comments on “Ricciardo’s tactics inspired Hamilton’s race-winning strategy”

  1. The race was wide open. Max could have won, Leclerc could have, Seb could have, Lewis could have and with the best strategy and the best driving skills Lewis did it. Congrats to Mercedes team and Lewis! Valtteri Bottas also deserves high marks for a podium finish.

  2. I think after Max taking himself out of the equation and Ferrari commiting Leclerc early on to a 2 stopper. The Victory was between leading Vettel and the chasing Lewis. Had Vettel undercut Lewis he could have won the race too. But luckily and after loooong time Mercedes successfully undercut Ferrari and that won them the race.
    I expect Mercedes to aggressively undercut the leading Ferraris in the upcoming races and as overtaking them on track is almost impossible.

  3. As far as I know Mercedes was the only team with proper data concerning the hards. So I don’t think it was as big a risk as Totto says :)
    Renault had zero data period as they totally fluffed practice and consequently qualifying so they were taking more a gamble. It does show again how good a driver Ricciardo is, 51 laps on the hard tyer setting several PBs in a car that is definitely below par making up 9 places to finnish 7th.

    1. Yes, Ferrari are likely to win all the remaining Qualifying sessions. But Mercedes have a chance to try different and more risky strategies as they are the 2019 season Champions already. It is very good news for all the F1 spectators as well, as there will be no more boring races this season.

  4. Once again Mercedes show how far advanced they are compared to other teams. Ricciardo’s data was available for all to see. Only Merc, saw, used it and implemented a strategy on that basis. Genius!

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