Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2019

Hamilton’s last pit stop was a “plain dumb” call, Mercedes admit

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes admitted they made a “dumb” call to bring Lewis Hamilton in for an extra pit stop at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was running second behind Max Verstappen when a late Safety Car period gave him the chance to put fresh tyres on. Mercedes technical director James Allison admitted the decision to do so was an error partly down to the team miscalculating how many places he would lose by pitting.

“Having not had the shiniest of races up to that point we then just did something plain dumb,” he said. “We thought we were exchanging a place for fresh rubber with enough laps left to get that place back promptly and then have a go for the lead.

“That was just factually incorrect because we were exchanging two places – we hadn’t factored in [Pierre] Gasly – and secondly with the amount of debris on the track there was just a lot more laps taken up by the Safety Car than we’d anticipated.

“I think that was a rookie error of a not [having] quite a quick enough car on the day and trying to stretch too far for a victory that wasn’t on. We just made a mistake.”

Allison confirmed the team, not Hamilton, made the call to pit.

“This was entirely our fault because we saw what we thought was a fleeting opportunity. It was not at all clear to us that it was the right thing to do, but there was a possibility.

“We thought, well, let’s give Lewis a chance to give his view. Which we shouldn’t have done, because honestly, we didn’t give him the right information – we said one place and it was two – and secondly we should have just made the call ourselves.

“So he ummed and ahhed for a second or two before diving in the pits because he likes racing. But that was our mistake.”

This article will be updated.

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Dieter Rencken
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45 comments on “Hamilton’s last pit stop was a “plain dumb” call, Mercedes admit”

  1. Plain dumb or not, I see this type of call all the time in other racing series. It defiantly makes the last few laps exciting and I don’t blame them for trying to give Hamilton the best chance of winning. I’m glad they did it.

    1. Honestly, it was plain dumb. I was actually expecting the safety car to stay on track longer because of the debri.

      First safety car stayed out way longer than needed. The signal for cars to unlap themselves took forever and bottas car was easy to remove. a virtual safety car would have sufficed.
      It was clear they did that to make the race exciting again since it was pretty boring untill that moment.
      They succeeded in it though, but it was unfair for some.

      1. That was NOT the time they were referring to, under Bottas he did not come in, Max did. Mercedes pitted Hamilton under the Ferrari safety car

        1. I think what Valinor meant was that the decision was dumb because they should have known there would not have been many laps left at the end based on how long the first safety car was out. With 2 Ferrari cars to deal with and all that debris, i thought the race would actually end under safety car conditions

          1. I was also thinking the race would finish under safety car, so that last call I thought Mercedes give away a position, could be classified as dumb.

            The first call I understood more or less. Hamilton was faster on the mediums and without the SC he could have won the race. Which verstappen back on the soft and right behind him he was a sitting duck.

        2. sorry should have been clearer. Like AdamM said, i meant that based on the first safety car, I was expecting the Ferrari safety car to stay out way longer.

  2. We need more dumb calls like this! Today’s race was great in big part because championships have been decided and people raced without thinking about some overall points score…

  3. I dont see whats dumb about it, it gave Hamilton a change to attack the Red Bullsand if anything the SC ended alot quicker than most people thought. It looked like Hamilton would be driving over the finishline behind the SC when he pitted.

    1. I was the dumbest decision ever! Why?
      Because just a few minutes earlier, BOT retires his car on the side of the track and it takes a long, long time to “clear” BOT’s undamaged car when it is right near an opening in the wall.
      So why, why would anyone with half a brain think that the track would be be cleared quickly when 2 cars wreck, with debris, and then a 3rd car retires on the side?

      1. The first SC was overly long because they waited for the lapped cars to pass and clear – there wouldn’t have been any lapped cars at the 2nd SC.

    2. Your comment is kind of contradictory. If you thought (albeit we are not Merc pit wall) that the safety car was actually over quicker than it could have been and even then only gave HAM 2 laps to chase down the leaders – i don’t see how it was a smart decision to pit him

      In other words, your comment makes it seem like they were lucky to even get 2 laps yet you say it wasn’t dumb

      1. Clearly they knew more than me and even so they where surprised it was so long. Yes i thought it was dumb as they made their call but i was proven wrong, theres nothing contradictory about that.

        1. @rethla how were you proven wrong? He was P2 before the last SC and while Albon looked racy, it looked like Lewis was going to hold him off. So looking at a P2 finish.
          The stop made him drop to P4 with a possible highest place of P2 to finish.

          So they switched a probable P2 finish for a possible P2 finish… That’s a dumb call and I don’t see how it was proven not to be one.

  4. The smart move was to put Hamilton on softs under the first SC. OK it would be the same as Verstappen, but it would assure second and would have given him some chance of passing at the restart or attempting to fight towards the end of the race. How on earth was Hamilton on used mediums going to defend against Verstappen on new softs at the restart? 100% impossible. As shown by the first corner.

    1. Exactly right. They should have just told him to pit no matter what. If Verstappen stayed out, they’d have a big tyre advantage and if Verstappen pitted (which he did ahead of Hamilton) – at least they wouldn’t then have been at disadvantage

      Doing the opposite and therefore staying out meant they were always going to have Verstappen right behind on 15 laps newer softs – a sitting duck as Hamilton called it

      1. Exactly, Merc seem scared to do the same strategy as someone else and actually race them. They just do the opposite for good or worse.

        Sometimes you have to just go with strategy A and let the guy race.

      2. When hamilton would have pitted with Max that wouldn’t have changed anything as the RB was quicker on the softs. On the medium the Merc was faster. That why I kind of get the box opposite call.

        1. Merc wasn’t faster on used mediums vs a RBR on (almost) new softs!
          That first call was stupid.

          The 2nd call had actually some smarts in it and could have worked. The 2 lost positions should not have been a problem as he could overtake the first car before turn 1, and the second before turn 4.
          The but I found weird is that they expected the SC to be shorter. I thought it looked to be a long one (even knowing there would be no unlapping).

  5. At least they admitted it!
    Thank you.

    Toto, please come back soon!
    Or find a capable deputy!!!!

    1. I thought he came back during the race or something?

    2. I don’t think Toto makes the pitcalls?

  6. This race was a nightmare for Mercedes. It happens for them from time to time (like 2018 Austria or 2019 Germany). Please, finish the season in a style in Abu Dhabi!

    1. Nightmare for Mercedes = Ferrari on most weeks

  7. Horrible race for everyone at Mercedes. I guess Wolf can’t take a week off.
    BOT needed to poop or get off the pot when battling LEC. Either pass him in 2 laps or drop back, cool it down, and come back later. He needlessly destroyed his car with those half-hearted attempts to pass.
    Then there’s HAM. Usually a fan but today he was a straight up whiny _____. He complained about being on softs, they put him on mediums, and then at the end they pit for softs. If anything they should have followed VER to the pits during the first caution when BOT retired.

    1. Was there any word on the age of the engines Bottas and Lewis were running for this race? It would certainly explain a lot if we found out they were both on oldish engines.

      As for the call to pit Lewis from 2nd place. With so few laps remaining, this would only make sense if Mercedes fancied a lap record, or they believed the cars behind Lewis were likely to pit and thereby over-take Lewis on the restart.

      In the end it just look amateurish from the championship winners.

  8. Multiple dumbness by Mercedes. What exactly were they thinking??

    They gave up a guaranteed 2nd position to fight for a “hail mary” win with 2 laps to go – on a track where their engine is not the strongest, and with 3 cars with stronger engines ahead of them. We are not even talking about not pitting under the first safety car in the foolish hope they can keep the fastest car on this track with better tires behind them with 10 laps to go, and on a safety car restart.

    It is a cock up on a monumental scale. Just like Germany. Unbelievable!

    1. In the end , that SC pit lead to the ‘desperation’ which ended up demoting Hamilton. Sad.

      This was Mercedes answering Hamilton one SC later. Compounding the error of not pitting earlier.

    2. Yeah, what were they thinking…….didnt they know they risk Constructors and Hamilton’s 6th Championship with calls like this?

      There acting like those two have already been wrapped up or something……

  9. Bottas parked his car at the best possible place to be recovered and still safety car was deployed. What does that say about F1? Out of 20 cars on the grid if any car going to stop near the track exits will they put out the safety car? How will the race progress then? A VSC would have been good enough in this situation. There are always risks but you can’t just restart a race like this by putting out safety car whenever a car stops and is easily recoverable under yellows or VSC.
    And what an awful move by the Mercedes team to pit Lewis at the end there. A bit similar to the 2015 Monaco move where they pitted Lewis unnecessarily and he lost the race he was leading comfortably.

    1. If you listen to the replay, hamilton was given a choice. He sounded unsure, but did actually decide himself to come in. He was not instructed to come in, it was his own decision.

    2. I thought the SC was silly and unnecessary as well. But I think the FIA is still nervous any time a crane is dispatched because of JB.

  10. Well hamilton seemed uneasy about pitting but he was the one who decided to when given the option, so we can’t blame the team if it was hamilton’s decision to come in. The most odd pit stop of the race by mercedes I would say was for Bottas after doing just 11 laps on the hardest tyre. Just why? Mercedes knew they would struggle round here and this likely would have cost Bottas a position or two had it not been for his retirement or the ferrari mess. Was it to avoid hamilton pitting and coming out behind him or something? I can’t understand the reasons for doing such a short stint on this tyre. Merceddes decisions for pitting both drivers seemed odd this race.

    1. Makes it even worse, @thegianthogweed.
      The team should make a call like that; they have all the data and videos.
      How does Ham know how many places he will lose, or assess how long the SC will be out?

    2. Did you listen to the Ham call? He was given duff info and then told to decide, when he threw it back at the team no decision was made. He then had no choice but to make a decision. But doing nothing it would have still been a decision.
      So the team give him the wrong info and cant make a decision themselves, and somehow that’s down to Hamilton?
      And thry also make a mistake with Bottas, and somehow that’s to do with Hamilton as well?
      Your posts regarding Hamilton follow exactly the same pattern. It’s tiresome.

      1. i never mentioned bottas’s stop being to do with hamiltons. But both were pretty odd decisions. It seems like you ae thinking i am blaming hamilton for mercedes pitting bottas. I think bottas’s stopp was odd as he just did 11 laps on what should have taken him to the end of the race. I think mercedes were a bit strange with some of their decisions, but as i said, hamilton could have refused to box. Other people made a point on other forums that hamilton went with the decision. He even said after that he did it because his tyres were worn beforehand and he thought it was worth it.

        1. ‘He could have refused to box.’ You just said it yourself. That’s right, he could have refused. Which would have still been a decision. So he was given the wrong information by the team, he had to make a decision based on that wrong information. And your conclusion is we can’t blame the team?

          So if RB gave Max the wrong information and said its up to Max to make an in or out decision; all responsibility rests with Max? You would be saying the exact opposite; and you know it.

          As for Bottas, you suggested Hamiltons position in relation to Bottas as maybe being the cause of the pit stop. So don’t deny you never mention Hamilton.

  11. we hadn’t factored in [Pierre] Gasly

    Just shows how much Mercedes has been able to coast strategically in this era of the Big Three teams when they are only racing one or two other teams with competitive pace. I look forward to increased competition sharpening them up!

  12. I guess next year we will see more this kind of mistakes by Mercedes. When things are not going how they supposed to be, then they start making mistakes, because they got used to get it easy every time. If the opponents don’t make mistakes, then they struggle. Today was a luck for Hamilton, with all those dumb calls, he (could’ve) managed to finish on podium.

  13. Maybe it was a dumb call, but he was never going to be competitive either way. Poor tire strat from the first pitstop. Hamilton knew it – he didn’t even try to defend against Verstappen on the restart.

  14. why did the marshels use a crane? could they not just push the car through the gap?

    1. This!!! +100000

    2. If you’re talking about Bottas’ car: his car could not be put in neutral and not moved by hand.

  15. I believe their strategy was all about getting the win. Had the championship still een on, they would have put Ham on the same trategy than Verstappen on the previous race and hoped Hamilton could make it work on the track. Guaranteed second.

  16. Dont understand why they are dwelling over the second safety car. By then the race was lost. What was DUMB was their actions around the first safety car. With nothing to lose why on earth did they stay out and expect to keep track position on older harder tires ?? A joke. The most potent force in F1 is Lewis Hamilton on fresh rubber and he can make them last longer than most and would have been right on Verstappens exhaust on the restart. They should have played to their strengths, pitted and hunted Red Bull down for the remaining 15 laps right to the bitter end.

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