Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019

Ferrari backed Vettel’s “let him go” call on Hamilton

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

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Ferrari agreed with Sebastian Vettel’s call to “let him go” when the team saw how early Mercedes were prepared to bring Lewis Hamilton in for his only pit stop of the race.

It proved to be the call which cost Ferrari its last chance to win yesterday’s race.

Asked whether Vettel or the team instigated the decision, Binotto said: “We took, as a team, the final decision.”

Hamilton’s early pit stop allowed him to jump ahead of Vettel, who he stayed ahead of until the end. Binotto pointed out that once Hamilton pitted, Ferrari were unable to bring Vettel in and get him back out ahead.

“If [Vettel] would have come in he would have [fallen] behind because already in the first sector [of his out-lap] Hamilton was fast enough to stay ahead.”

That meant Ferrari had no choice but to leave Vettel out longer and hope to attack Hamilton using fresher tyres later in the race. “At that stage, being behind, the best way was to stay out. We stayed out to have some advantage eventually in the very last part of the race with fresher tyres.”

However Vettel was unable to pass Hamilton and finished second. Meanwhile Charles Leclerc, who began the race in the lead, fell to fourth place when he locked himself into a two-stop strategy early on.

Binotto admitted they “realised only very late” that a one-stop strategy was possible. “I think when Charles stopped, for us it was still too early to gamble on the one-stop.

“It would have been too risky, especially for our position being ahead as it was not only for tyre degradation but for tyre wear as well. That tyre wear is something you can look and analyse in the data.”

The Ferrari team principal praised Mercedes’ aggressive strategy, which secured their 13th win of the year.

“Certainly the gamble they did today was the right gamble,” he said. “They took some risks to win and I think the risk went to their merit. That’s the way it is. Maybe we should have taken more risks. Difficult to judge. After the result it’s easy to say ‘yes’.”

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Dieter Rencken
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27 comments on “Ferrari backed Vettel’s “let him go” call on Hamilton”

  1. Two compounds minimum rule should go away. So as average fuel consumption rule.

    1. @regs

      So as average fuel consumption rule

      There isn’t an “average fuel consumption” rule, unless you count the “maximum fuel for the race” (which I guess does technically limit the average fuel consumption rate, but it’s an odd way to phrase it).

      There is a maximum fuel flow rule, which is nothing to do with averages but the peak flow rate of fuel into the engine. This is no different to a rev limit and capacity limit for a NatAsp engine, in that it limits the total energy input into the engine. In a turbo this limit is difficult to define in other terms, and even more difficult to measure accurately, so a fuel flow rate limit makes sense.

      Note that this is nothing to do with “fuel consumption” or making the cars more “green”, it’s just a simple and accurate way to stop teams going stupid with, for instance, boost pressure. It’s there for the same reason as the rev limit, in that it becomes more and more expensive (as well as dangerous) to produce an engine which will rev higher or accept a higher boost.

      I do agree with getting rid of the two compounds rule, though.

      1. Of course if you are a team who injects oil, or some varient of oil into their combustion, then even the max fuel flow rule, wont matter a jot. Theory here is to qualify and hope that position advantage keeps you ahead of your rule abiding rivals.

        All as our tv pundits scratch their collective nogins and ask, how are they doing it. Just saying…

    2. Why is it that whenever Mercedes wins a race they were not expected to win there is a call form some to change the rules? Last time out there was a call to close the pit when there’s a VSC. The rules are known and are there for everyone, suck it up!

  2. Ferrari’s mistake wasnt letting Hamilton go as after a few quick laps from hamilton the lap times between vettel and Hamilton stabilised.

    In fact by lap 33, 10 laps after hamilton had pitted vettel was only technically 3-4 seconds behind hamilton.

    Instead of pitting him at this point they let him spend next 3 laps in which cost him 4 seconds to hamilton and track position to Albon when vettel pitted.

    The result being Vettel came out 7.5 seconds behind Hamilton instead of 3.5 after his stop. Vettel took 3 seconds out of hamilton in 4 laps after his stop so you have to say he would have at least got a few laps in DRS range.

    Would it have changed the result? Perhaps not but for sure Ferrari screwed up a chance for Vettel to have a stab at Hamilton

    1. No preasure on Hamilton also meant he could drive to preserve his tires. The radio messages between Hamilton and his team, i think were a double bluff, and Ferrari fell for it.

      Each time he had good news from his team, Hamilton would counter it, by saying how he thought his tires wouldn’t last. Ferrari fell for this believing the tires would fall off. They just sat back and waited.

      Talk about brinkmanship. ;)

  3. I still find it amazing Hamilton has been able to win 10 races and Mercedes, 13 races so far this season. While I can’t fault Ferrari much for this race outcome, I certainly can fault their performance this season. They have gifted Mercedes to many race victories. This was a Mercedes was on the verge of suffering a humiliating defeat, yet they have gone on again to win both championships.

    1. No man, Merc still the car to beat. I see where you’re coming from so I’m telling you as a german Vettelfan. Yes, Lewis Hamilton is the best driver of his generation! Best driver in the best car, nothing wrong with that. Now let it go dude.

      1. Hamilton and Alonso would have won the title in the 2017, 2018 & 2019 ferraris.

        1. Agreed on 2017 and 2018. Verstappen or Ricciardo would also have more than likely taken those WDC’s.

          2019 I doubt even Hamilton could have done it though, but I agree they would have been a lot closer. On the other hand, Hamilton probably has a big hand in the development of Mercedes always going in the right direction.

          He might have gotten Ferrari out of their setup slump which lasted half a season. Ferrari’s car (and notably engine) had plenty potential as was demonstrated during winter testing already. If you see the extreme up and down swings which Ferrari showed then a driver less needful of exactly the car he needs to perform (ie Hamilton, Alonso and Verstappen) would likely have been a lot more effective, but also probably been able to point to a more efficient setup (and fitting driving style) faster.

    2. Ferrari has the inferior car for most of the season despite the pre-season hype.

      Not absolving them though, it is their responsibility to get a competiting car ready on time. They did not got the car at best performance until after the summer break, by which time Mercedes already had a huge lead.

      Of course it is not just that. Their drivers have made plenty of errors, some questionable strategic calls, refusal to obey team orders, etc. Mercedes made much less errors in addition to having a superior car for longer.

  4. I honestly think this problem comes from way before race day, or even the weekend. Looking at the tyre selections, the only driver from the top 3 teams who had more than one set of the hard tyre was Bottas. That means only Mercedes had some information about what the hard tyre could (or couldn’t) do. It honestly baffles me how teams choose to completely ignore a compound throughout the weekend only to gamble their whole race on that tyre.

    All drivers used the hard tyre during the race, but more than half of them tried it at all throughout the weekend

    1. @warheart

      Good points. I wonder if it would help to have more sets of tyres.

      The explanation for the tyre choices could be that teams know they’re going to have to run the hard tyre in the race whatever happens, so pick enough soft and medium tyres to get some flexibility in how they use them.

      1. @Dave teams are forced to pick one set of each compound, so they always have a hard tyre. If that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams didn’t pick any sets of the harder tyre.

    2. @warheart Going into the weekend it was assumed that a 2 or 3-stop strategy would be fastest. Only while the race progressed it became apparent that even a 1-stop might work.

      If it’s a 2-stop (or 3 stop) race than one set of fresh softs being available during the race might just give a crucial difference.

    3. @warheart

      The tyres behaved very differently between practice and the race, so it is far from sure that they would have known what the hard tyres could have done in race conditions.

      1. @aapje neither what the soft/medium tyres would do in race conditions, but they would at least have some information about car balance, degradation, relative grip…

        What I mean is I don’t understand why many teams/drivers don’t even consider testing one of the available tyres but then use it for most of the race. Look at the McLarens, they simply disappeared with the hard tyre.

  5. Had Ferrari perhaps brought Vettel in 3-4 seconds earlier and Leclerc not had a slow pitstop, I genuinely think they might have had a shot at victory. At least Leclerc would have been 3rd, hard to judge for the lead as Hamilton seemed to have a lot in reserve.

    1. hard to judge for the lead as Hamilton seemed to have a lot in reserve

      I’m not sure about him having a lot in reserve. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they were on the verge of being dead by the end of the race (although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they had a fair amount of life left, either… You never can tell with these tyres!)

      However, this is at least the second time this season Hamilton has shown some skill at keeping tyres performing well longer than expected. Remember that at Silverstone he set the fastest lap on very old tyres right at the end of the GP, when everyone expected them to be dead.

      P.S. I’m surprised that this surprises people. I remember from the Rosberg days that Hamilton used to be able to do faster laps than Rosberg while keeping the tyres alive longer. His driving style seems to be kinder on the tyres, somehow, even when he’s pushing the limits.

      1. Ricciardo started on the whites, and kept them for 50! laps with the heavy starting fuel load.
        I don’t know what the weight distribution does to the tire preformances, but I expect that Lewis could’ve matched the 50 laps.

        1. Max did 66 laps on the hard, while racing quite hard.

    2. Agreed, Lecrec’s slower pit stop very likely cost him third position. The chances are, with only vettel ahead of him, Lecrec would have driven to try and catch Vettel, and then the two Ferraris would have really pushed to get Hamilton. Instead it got cozy, with the Ferraris ‘settling’ behind their respective Mercedes counter parts.

  6. Shocking that Ferrari keeps throwing away 1-2 starts with bad strategy calls. They seem to take the wrong decisions some times and other times when they get the right call it is too late… It keeps happening a bit too often for the past couple of years.

  7. Ferrari should of known vettel is useless in wheel to wheel, he can only pass cars through the pit stops. I don’t think vettel is capable of passing hamilton on track without a massive tyre advantage or Hamilton having issues

    1. Sumithra Suresh
      28th October 2019, 17:19

      What a or that massive straight line advantage???

      1. Its only an advantage when they have oil to burn. eg Qualifying.

  8. What? This has nothing to do with racing. Ves in this position would have attacked Ham whatever the costs. Let him go…. Impossible.

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