Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Interlagos, 2019

Hamilton was a “sitting duck” for Verstappen due to hard out-lap

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton was left a “sitting duck” when Max Verstappen passed him the first time in the Brazilian Grand Prix because a hard out-lap left his battery depleted, the team has revealed.

Mercedes got Hamilton ahead of Verstappen by making his first pit stop a lap before the Red Bull driver. Hamilton pushed hard on his out-lap, taking almost two-and-a-half seconds off the race leader. But to his frustration Verstappen immediately swept back past the Mercedes driver.

“Come on guys, give me the information when my engine’s fricking battery is dead,” exclaimed Hamilton on the radio after losing the position.

Mercedes team principal James Allison explained how Hamilton ended up low on power at the critical moment.

“We pulled the trigger for an undercut the first stint, just theoretically within undercut range. Lewis had to scrape out a fast lap to make that work. [We] got lucky with the release of [Robert Kubica’s] Williams into Max’s path.

“We were then in front and we’re thinking at that point it’s close, but they probably haven’t got the pace to actually breeze past us just as we didn’t pass them.

“But we actually used most of our energy in the battery making the undercut work. And by the time we went up the hill, we were a sitting duck to Max who’s had good straight-line speed all weekend. Take our battery away and you saw what happened.”

Had they known Verstappen would lose so much time behind Kubica, Allison said Hamilton could have saved more energy on his out-lap. “But it’s a little bit of hindsight,” he said.

Once Verstappen caught Hamilton there was nothing Mercedes could do to give Hamilton the power he needed. “We’d already spent the energy by then,” said Allison.

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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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49 comments on “Hamilton was a “sitting duck” for Verstappen due to hard out-lap”

  1. Very interesting that Lewis depleted the battery knowing Max was going to comeback at him.

    1. As Allison states, Mercedes were not to know about the Kubica incident. Without that, they predicted that the only realistic chance of having Lewis gain track position ahead of Max, was by using up all of the battery that was available to them at that time.

  2. give me the information when my engine’s fricking battery is dead

    It’s a bit sobering to learn that the drivers don’t even know, let alone manage, the battery usage during a lap.
    I’m actually very surprised, I thought they could decide where to charge (we see the lights come up) and where to spend the extra energy.

    1. I think he know his state of his battery but he was pushing so hard in his outlap he didn’t watch his powerlevels. At this time his enginering should warn him to backof a little when max was hold up.

      1. At this time his enginering should warn him to backof a little when max was hold up.

        Hamilton already finished his outlap when Verstappen was held up, @macleod. And from there he could see where Verstappen was.

        1. at the end he could but i don’t think that would made any difference so i think your right @coldfly

    2. @coldfly Indeed this is weird. How is it controlled then? It’s not allowed from the pits, so I guess it must be some automated system?

    3. @coldfly Didn’t it happen again on the last lap? Looked like Hamilton spent all of his battery trying to get past Albon (and or back at Gasly)

      Same for Leclerc when he got past Vettel. That took all of his battery and then Vettel still had some left. Which he then used to get back past Leclerc.

      So it’s not that uncommon that they deplete their battery when fighting for position.

      1. @f1osaurus But who controls it and how come they don’t know how much is used from within the car? Hamilton was angry at the pit crew for not informing over the radio about his battery status, so obviously he had no idea.

      2. Depleting the battery I understand, @f1osaurus, but I don’t understand that they don’t know it and blame the pit wall.
        But maybe just a bit of frustration by Hamilton in that call. My guess is that he never expected Verstappen to pass Leclerc that quickly (great move BTW) and ready to attack before turn 1.

        1. @balue @coldfly,Yes sorry I wasn’t disagreeing. Just saying that indeed I feel this would happen relatively often. So they (the drivers) would know themselves what their battery status is.

          I remember Hamilton actually remarking that he kept his battery charged while he saw Vettel deplete his so he could overtake him in an unexpected spot. So it’s something they use to their advantage too.

          1. @balue But how can that be when he has no way of knowing the charge status?

          2. @f1osaurus But how can that be when he has no way of knowing the charge status?

          3. @balue Yes, like I said, I assumed they would know this too. Not sure why not.

  3. Shouldn’t they harvest enough energy in sector 2, at least enough to have that boost while accelerating (where they gain most out of it) on the s/f-straight?

  4. because a hard out-lap left his battery depleted,

    so, a futile attempt to stop Verstappen that failed even with the “support of Williams”.
    During the race, car and driver were unbeatable and as Max said “on fire”.
    Great stuff to watch.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Erik. Hungary and Mexico were good too.😉

  5. Not convinced the Kubica release had any real bearing on it, other than affecting how quickly Verstappen got onto Hamilton’s tail while he was trying to pass Leclerc. Took maybe three extra corners.

  6. Kubica might have momentarily held Verstappen up but Leclerc put up a super robust defence against Lewis and then basically let Max through. Weird given their history.

    1. He may have had little left to defend against Max, who was strong and relentless all weekend, and there may be less history (assuming you mean grudges) than you think. Top athletes are trained not to dwell too much on the past that can’t be changed anyway, and are usually too preoccupied with the present to let negativity creep in.

      1. @robbie Tell that to Verstappen in last year’s Brazil race. Verstappen could have let Ocon go, but he chose to defend to the death and blocked Ocon from a simple non-obtrusive pas on the straight. Then they continued to fight and went off and Verstappen lost an easy win.

        At least Helmut Marko had the sense to see it for what it was. An emotional overflow over past bad blood.

        Leclerc also certainly showed some payback for Austria when he raced extremely hard in Silverstone.

        But yeah, don’t let actual facts get in your way of your pretend balanced opinions.

        1. @f1osaurus My intention in responding to RB13 was simply to say I was not surprised that CL let Max through. They don’t go around seething with a mist at drivers they have had encounters with in the past, and try to block them or hold them up at every possible opportunity. For whatever reason CL did not hold Max up, and I wasn’t surprised nor did I find it ‘weird.’

          Sure drivers remember encounters they have had, and perhaps will exact a little revenge when the opportunity arises, but I will never be surprised when that doesn’t happen because these guys also have their own races to consider and it is often not in their or their team’s best interest to make it personal. And how often have we seen an encounter that was simply a passing move, but the commentator brings the two drivers’ history into it and tries to make it sound like what we just saw was revenge being enacted, when really all it was was a pass?

          Speaking of actual facts, nice avoidance of them on your part considering Ocon was the penalized one. Ya Ocon decided that was the time to exact some revenge on Max for pre-F1 stuff I guess, but again it is not like Ocon spent the season seething over Max and tried to do his races harm at every opportunity. Ocon’s blunder was a surprise to everyone as he did something that drivers simply do not do historically by aggressively challenging the race leader as a backmarker trying to unlap himself. And that’s why the penalty, no matter how much you care to avoid that fact and pretend it was all on Max.

        2. @robbie You say the same thing again so I’ll just repeat my answer …

          Tell that to Verstappen in last year’s Brazil race. Verstappen could have let Ocon go, but he chose to defend to the death and blocked Ocon from a simple non-obtrusive pas on the straight. Then they continued to fight and went off and Verstappen lost an easy win.

          At least Helmut Marko had the sense to see it for what it was. An emotional overflow over past bad blood.

          Leclerc also certainly showed some payback for Austria when he raced extremely hard in Silverstone.

          But yeah, don’t let actual facts get in your way of your pretend balanced opinions.

          nice avoidance of them on your part considering Ocon was the penalized one. Ya Ocon decided that was the time to exact some revenge on Max for pre-F1 stuff I guess

          I didn’t, but thanks for pointing out yet another example which proves my point.

          no matter how much you care to avoid that fact and pretend it was all on Max.

          I didn’t. I explicitly referred to Verstappen’s overly aggressive defense at the end of the straight.

          Reading comprehension is not really your thing is it? But yeah you will probably blame me for you not being able to read again … sad

          What is your point anyway? You write something dumb and you get corrected. Just take it. You just make it worse

      2. Top athletes are trained not to dwell too much on the past (and) let negativity creep in.

        Clear difference between the drivers and many ‘fans’, @robbie ;)

  7. He would’ve passed him anyway. Max was unstoppable this weekend!

  8. Mercedes explanation makes no sense. When they say that the unsafe release by Williams was not expected, they are admitting that they planned to defend the 1st position without any battery power anyway. So that means that they expected that Hamilton would be able to maintain Verstappen behind him or they made a huge strategy mistake.

    1. The alternative is to simply stay behind. At least they tried something.

      1. @f1osaurus Exactly, what else were they going to do.

        Watching the replay, had Hamilton caught Leclerc at a different part of the track, Verstappen might not have caught him so quickly. It was worth a shot. But the Red Bull was ultimately the quicker car, it was always going to be hard to contain Verstappen.

        1. RBR the quicker car….??
          Mercedes was faster on mediums, on reds they where dead on equal….
          It’s Lewis choice to use his battery as he sees fit… it failed, Max raced a better race is what made the difference, not superior pace

          1. They were “dead on equal” only after Verstappen pulled a 2.5 to 3 second gap (over a mere 4 laps) and then kept that gap steady. The car was at least 0.5 of a second a lap faster and probably more if Verstappen needed it.

          2. Over the first 19 laps the biggest gap was 2.4 sec.
            In the next stint maximum 3.3 sec, in the third never bigger than 1.9 sec with Lewis slowly closing in… in the
            sec. last part maximum 2.8 sec.

            Lewis and Max where as close as it gets

          3. Matn That’s exactly what I said:

            They were “dead on equal” only after Verstappen pulled a 2.5 to 3 second gap (over a mere 4 laps)

            So 3 seconds divided by 4 = 0.75s. So Verstappen could easily go 0.75s a lap faster and would pull out that gap. After that he would save his tyres, because they were afraid of Mercedes/Hamilton being better at tyre management.

            The fact that Verstappen manages the gap does not mean that he did not have that pace in hand. He actually had a lot more pace in hand, because he could simply breeze past on the straight.

          4. Yes. The RB was terrible and Max dragged that God awful car round that track on his own!
            Behave yourself!!

      2. I do not agree, you can also try to gain some performance by tyre offset. I mean, try to pit Ham some laps latter than Verstappen. This also helps you if there is some safety car latter in the race. At least for me, the call to pits was not ideal. Trying to make an undercut was pointless at the end.

  9. Passed two times! Nice job Max.

    1. Indeed. Was a great race from Max. Shame the season is finished. Congrats to Max. He was fastest all weekend and thoroughly deserved the win.
      That now makes it:
      Ham 10
      Rest of the grid 10.
      Abu Dhabi to be the decider 😂

  10. Mercedes always come up with this ridiculous excuses, considering the delay Max had when coming out of the pits, He was going to pass him with or without the charge that was obvious and trying to beat Redbull with a slower tyre when they could not do it on the same tyre was a fools errand.

    1. And RB don’t???
      Have you heard the nonsense Horner comes out with?
      At least Merc come out after every race and explain how they tackled the race. What other team does that? THAT is called connecting with the fans.

  11. This article is confusing – It doesn’t make clear it is talking about the first set of pit stops, rather than the safety car restart caused by Bottas’s retirement.

    1. @kbdavies Yes it does, in the first sentence.

  12. Mercedes strategists and engine department need to up their game. After Ferrari now Honda also seems to have a more powerful power unit.
    Redbull was clearly the fastest car and Lewis did well to hold second for most of the race until the safety car madness started. A bit similar to another chaotic race, German GP where things were looking good for Mercedes untill the safety cars.
    So Mercedes strategists need to sharpen up. They cant throw away races like this. Telling Lewis to do opposite to Max after the deployment of first safety car was a wrong call as he should have pitted for new tyres as well. Then pitting Lewis with just 4 to 5 laps to go was madness. Another poor call was to run Bottas on Brand new hard tyres for only 11 laps. They should have let him try one stop. He wasn’t in the contention for the top 3 places anyway.

  13. And this is why silly ERS racing is a joke. Kers was ok as it was a small boost for a small % of lap. Easy to keep enough charge for many many laps and just reset it at the line. Up to 150 bhp (funny they don’t monitor torque output too being that lots of instant torque is what electric motors are so good at) for up to 30 odd seconds a lap and with some teams and drivers being able to charge better than other cars/drivers and therefore effectively gaining a large HP advantage for many seconds a lap over multiple laps at any track where deployment exceeds regeneration for some or all teams (i.e 90% of tracks at least).

    I get that hybrid/electric is the future but there is a right and wrong way to go about it. What we have now needs a revision and if implemented correctly it would close the field up and get rid of the ERS ‘gimmick racing’ whilst keeping the focus on future tech in f1 as it should be.

    1. I think it kind of adds to the game though. It’s an extra bit of strategy to keep in mind.

      1. really, it’s something that was alredy there….. higher engine modes for short bursts has been part of racing since for ever. Now it’s electrical modes but it’s the same thing none the less.

        1. @jeffreyj Well it’s a strategy game of when to apply the extra boost (either to attack or defend). I remember Hamilton talking about how he kept his battery charged at the expected overtake location. Just so he could launch a surprise attack somewhere else and he in fact managed to get past.

          1. @f1osaurus What point I made are you arguing against?

          2. @jeffreyj Well more like I explained what I meant, but your claim is nonsensical though. I guess I should have gone with that.

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