Hamilton’s second pit stop was a “difficult call” for Mercedes – Wolff

2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff admitted it was a difficult decision to bring Lewis Hamilton in for a second pit stop when he seemed poised to pass Max Verstappen for the lead.

He praised the team’s strategists, led by James Vowles, for the call to give Hamilton a second pit stop which allowed him to catch and pass Verstappen to win.

“I really need to take my hat of to the group of strategists led by James and all the group back in Brackley,” said Wolff. “They are just fantastic mathematicians and strategists coming up with all the simulations.”

After Hamilton’s pit stop Red Bull told Verstappen the Mercedes driver would catch him on the final lap. Wolff said Mercedes reached the same conclusion, though Hamilton caught Verstappen several laps earlier.

“At they end they said ‘in our planner if you were to stop now we would end up catching him one lap to the end and we would have a tyre differential of 1.4 seconds and we believe it is enough’.

“In the end, we trust them and we trust the data. But they were terribly wrong! We caught him four laps to the end.”

“It was nevertheless still a difficult call because Lewis was so close to Max, in his DRS, before we decided to go on the two-stop,” said Wolff. “And this is really where the strategy team comes into play saying the probability’s higher that we overtake him at the end of the race than now on a tyre that is only five laps young.”

Having narrowly beaten Red Bull to pole position at Circuit de Catalunya, Wolff said Mercedes appear to be more competitive than their rivals in race trim.

“I think on pace it very much swings in Red Bull’s favour on Saturday. Probably on Sunday towards us, our car seems to be good on the tyres.

“But racing is very different than on the Sunday. We had almost faultless execution and today we were behind. We were behind but we were in a position to make that call because we had the gap. Then you have less to lose: You end up second on the road, where you are anyway, or first.”

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2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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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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18 comments on “Hamilton’s second pit stop was a “difficult call” for Mercedes – Wolff”

  1. The possibility of different tyre strategies is such a great thing in F1. Hamilton had to drive in a “Qualifying” mode for a long time and made no errors. Great race for Mercedes team (apart from Valtteri’s misbehaving).

    1. @bulgarian I agree, the whole rationale behind the different tyre compounds is to make these kind of decisions (1, 2 or even 3 stops) as marginal as possible. It happens too rarely though.

  2. Now Toto says this, but I saw him on Sky saying it’s always the easier choice when your 2nd and have a free pitstop. I guess it can be true both and it’s probably always a tough call to make in the heat of the moment.

    It did win them the race so good for them.

  3. It was a no-brainer really. The moment Hamilton got stuck behind Verstappen during his 2nd stint, it was clear what was about to happen. That’s why RB need Perez to be up front with Verstappen and stop Mercedes using these strategic gambles.
    Had Perez been either close behind or in front of Bottas, Mercedes would’ve had to work a lot harder for this win.

  4. At some point Toto has to know that fans don’t believe a word what he says. Always playing the slower team but still winning with a big distance. Of course doing a second pitstop is a risk but 2nd place was already in the bag considering the gap to Leclerc. It’s cringing to hear this kind of statements. Same goes for Lewis and his my-tyres-are-dead complaints. RB are horrible at losing but MB horrible when winning.

    1. It’s part of the circus that is F1.
      But seriously, he was right here at least. Max would have had pole in qualy, but during the race, the merc was clearly the faster car.

    2. There’s no satisfying some people clearly…

      1. There’s no F1 drivers who never had red cards in their career either…except for Kimi who had yellow cards for unusual incidents.

  5. Mercedes won this race because of a superior 2 stop strategy and great race craft by Lewis. Redbull had an equally quick car but committed to an inferior 1 stop race. Had Max pitted around the same time as Lewis he would have been very close with a chance of victory. It was Hungary 2019 all over again.

    1. Merc had the extra medium tyre and RBR didn’t. And it was too long for the soft. So not really an option.

      1. Other drivers did do the same stint on softs and did fine

        1. But they didn’t win either

  6. I can’t believe it, a honest comment from wolff? Red bull is better in qualifying and mercedes in the race? I think they could be very similar in quali, but normally wolff doesn’t admit this much.

  7. When they went for the extra stop I was thinking, but this assumes no big lock ups no running wide nothing. They make their plans based on the driver being perfect. You have to also say the verstappen also drove the strategy rbr had like a machine. These guys are just so good they are like a constant in the equations being run.

  8. Mercedes won this race on Saturday when they saved the Extra set of Medium tyres.

  9. How could this be a super idea when Anthony Davidson had already called it on air several laps before and even I had seen it before that. Stuck behind and not getting past with no one behind it’s more in the no-brainer territory. But good of Wolff to finally to give a shout out to Vowles, he is really very good.

    1. @balue Yes you saw it in Hungary 2019, when Verstappen got beaten in exactly the same way. You’d think he’d learn from that.

      1. But then maybe you also saw Bahrain 2021 and realized that not any driver can pull off a stint like that and overtake on fresher tyres at the end of the race. Verstappen couldn’t.

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