Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2021

Decision to leave Hamilton on intermediates was “100% correct” – Wolff

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defended the team’s decision not to switch Lewis Hamilton to slick tyres before the restart of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

When Hamilton led the field around to restart the race following the early stoppage, every other driver headed to the pits to swap their intermediate tyres for slicks. Hamilton took the start on his own, then pitted for slicks at the end of the next lap.

Mercedes’ simulations suggested he would only fall as low as sixth by doing that. However, the track dried out so quickly that the other drivers were immediately quicker than him, and Hamilton dropped to the rear of the field.

Nonetheless Wolff said the team stood by its decision. “I think 100 percent [it was] the right decision and I stand by it,” he said.

“At the end you need to make the call out there and judge whether it’s dry enough or not and I thought that within one lap it couldn’t possibly dry up like it did. And at the end we have to take it on the chin that it was the wrong outcome but the decision was right.”

Hamilton recovered to finish third after passing several of his rivals but appeared unwell during the podium ceremony. He then missed part of the press conference while he was attended to by the team’s doctor.

“I think you can just relate to it with the heat out there and the race like he had, with tons of overtaking, that is exhausting,” said Wolff. “I think he should be all right but better to be safe than sorry.”

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51 comments on “Decision to leave Hamilton on intermediates was “100% correct” – Wolff”

  1. For a top team, such mistakes are recoverable. For a midfield team, it would be race defining.

    1. Well said. I would even go so far as to say season defining. Not quite the same- but do you remember when Kimi crashed into Sutil in Monaco and how badly that affected (then Force India’s) season?

    2. Mercedes don’t make mistakes…. oh well Bottas did, I quote Toto ‘a small mistake’ , the 15 other drivers simply got it wrong.

    3. I’m confused by most the comments here, every team sent their drivers out on intermediates thus every team thought intermediates was the way to go. On a formation lap it is radio silence from the team to driver so Mercedes couldn’t tell Lewis to pit for slicks.

      I don’t get how Mercedes made a mistake here other than maybe not sending Lewis out straight away on slicks which would have been different to every other team.

      1. @rob8k
        On top of that I don’t get how Ocon can describe in the press conference how he was discussing with the team in the radio whether to come in.

      2. It appears the formation lap on the restart counts as a race lap and so isn’t subject to the rules about no radio communication.

        More in this thread. https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/ovvyhh/ocon_instructed_by_race_engineering_during_2nd/

        1. @rob8k @kartguy07

          As Anthony says, it’s not the same.
          Remember in Imola, when Kimi was penalised for not regaining his position after spinning on the “formation lap”, it was confirmed that this is a special case, cos its really a racing lap under safety car. Hence they can talk.

        2. Ah ok, thanks for that. So Mercedes did make a blunder then not telling Hamilton to pit although least we got to see a comical solo start.

    1. Ofcourse, we should know by know from Mercedes narrative this season THEY DO NOT make mistakes. Ever. Nor does Hamilton

  2. Well, clearly it wasn’t!

  3. ? That’s nonsensical. The decision was clearly the wrong one. What he’s saying is that it was a ‘100% correct’ decision in the hypothetical situation that the information they had was correct. Which it wasn’t. And TBH even then I don’t see how ‘only dropping to sixth’ when you’re running in first is an ‘only.’ Too much simulation not enough racing common sense, maybe.

    1. Sam (@undercut677)
      1st August 2021, 18:04

      Well said, idiotic comment by Toto. It makes no sense.

      Reply moderated
    2. @david-br Yeah indeed, he must mean that with the information they had at the time it was the right decision. Just like when they made the mistake with their undercut calculations in France.

      They seem to rely too much on information rather than common sense sometimes. Seeing how the test of the grid all got it actually right.

      Could also be their attitude of positivity. They try to improve where they can, but don’t play the blame game when things go wrong. Admit you can improve and do so, but don’t blame the people who provided the faulty data.

      1. Such babo-speech! It was the wrong decision. Maybe the one your computer said was right, but your driver told you it was drying out. Your driver was put at the end of the pack because of the decision. That is not a “100% correct” decision. Ridiculous to claim that.

      2. @f1osaurus Hamilton could have made the call himself of course but apparently he understood that the team thought it was going to rain more soonish… Had he pitted, getting out into the stream of other cars pitting would have been very tricky. The ideal in hindsight would have been to put Lewis on slicks already while under the red flag. Still it made a good race to watch and maybe had Kimi Raikkonen not come out of the pit lane at exactly the wrong time, he could have got past Alonso at the first corner – certainly then he’d have won the race.

        1. Putting slicks on while under red flag could have potentially been a RACE WIN for ANY DRIVER, or at the very least a really good shot at a podium for teams that otherwise have no chance. I was really surprised not a single team took the risk of putting slicks under at least one of their cars during red flag, just for the off chance gamble the weather cleared up…

          1. Yes. Well… almost any driver
            Vettel, Sainz and Alonso almost for certain.
            Gasly or Tsunoda would have had at least a feasible shot.
            The others were either too badly damaged or in cars that were generally too slow to hang on for a win, I reckon.
            For them, it would have been ‘only’ some glorious laps in the lead and massive praise afterwards.

            Just a thought. Does the cost cap and the risk of crashing on a damp track prevent teams from taking the gamble? Or did no one want to compromise this huge chance of points with the starting incident taking out a quarter of the grid?
            There used to be at least one driver who switched to dry tires too soon.
            Now, there were none.

  4. Being in P6 at that point would’ve been better than ending up last, though, so definitely a terrible call.

  5. If he had pitted with the rest of them he would of had to wait for the whole pact to pass before he would of been released. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

    1. Yes, this fact seems to be lost on most. He may not have been last by such a large gap, but he’d not be a lot better off.

    2. @f1-plossl I hadn’t thought of that but indeed. The curse of the first pitbox.

    3. Interestingly though other teams are stacking 2 cars for a double stop, so the second car then tends to slow down on purpose on pit entry to make a gap for their team to service the first car and get ready for the second. You can see this happening during the race and would have given Hamilton enough of a gap to get out. This behaviour however seems to not be included in the Mercedes simulations.

    4. If you have a regular stop of say 3 sec and the others do to, you’re in front and with the right tyres.

  6. The cost of that simulation was lot of points. Seems that this Merc simulation apparatus have some bugs inside.

  7. Hindsight is 20/20.

    As Toto said, they could’ve gone in, not be able to come out of their pit box and fall to the back, because of all the rest coming in thru the pit lane. Imagine that.

    1. @shrieker if the ENTIRE grid decides otherwise it has nothing to do with hindsight and everything with being definitely, entirely, wrong.

      1. And that’s exactly why Toto is a team boss, and you are not (and will never be).

        1. They would have lost a lot of places but been higher than last so net result Mercedes should have pitted.

    2. Not really sure what you’re saying here. Do you seriously think pitting at that time is no better than not pitting? Like, seriously? Even when Hamilton ended up behind because he was stuck on the pit box, he would still be a lot closer to the car behind, thus potentially can overtake them sooner. Looking at how close Hamilton was to being the race winner, that decision might be more crucial than you think it is. He ended up spending a lot of his tyre performance to catch up thus not enough tyre performance left to overtake a much slower car with the same tyre.

      1. @Frans. No, but think about what @shrieker is saying. Since Mercedes are champion, they use the very first pitbox. When Hamilton would have been ready with his tyre change, it would have been very difficult to send him out again, with all drivers entering the pitlane and driving in the fast lane. You saw it with Raikkonen and Mazepin.

        1. Yes, I know, that is why I said that even if Hamilton was stuck, he can easily overtake those in front of him, much easier than what he was doing yesterday. If he pitted like anyone else, at worst he will be last, but much closer to the cars in front of him and he can use his tyres not for catching up but to overtake. Basically it was 100% Merc made a terrible decision since I honestly don’t see anything that would make Merc decision to stay out is more beneficial than going to the pit.

  8. So Hamilton couldn’t talk to team, but Ocon did it on formation lap, at the end got told to box. Drivers cant be told anything on formation lap or I’m wrong?

    Reply moderated
  9. I don’t know how you say that was the right decision when it resulted in losing the win and your driver running last after switching to slicks. Lewis easily would’ve won if he’d pitting ahead of Ocon at the restart.

  10. If they had taken the right decision Hamilton would have won by a country mile.
    Thankfully Mercedes got it wrong and we got a decent race.

  11. Mercedes must have lost at least a season worth of wins thanks to blunders like this already.

    1. True, they do a lot, thank god.

  12. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    1st August 2021, 18:58

    Well it obviously wasnt

  13. Lewis overcomes there mistakes often. Maybe just maybe if Vest with his 1.15.5 in Q2 repeated he woulda started 2nd and would not have get taken out at the start but nope no one wants that convo. Redbull getting outqualified by Hamilton in Imola and Baku is hilarious tbh. Perez a god awful qualifyer nearly got pole in Imola just like Max them men made mistakes and were still half a tenth a way hence rocketship. Max woulda won today with ease if he qualified in his right spot.

    Reply moderated
  14. Simulation? My simulation said Hamilton would be lucky not to be actually caught by the time he came in. He was fortunate it was Russell who jumped the queue and held up the field. Toto, just admit y’all messed up.

  15. Thank you Lando for proving Max is no F1 god. The way some go on you would think it. Lando even when not racing makes Ric look silly just like today. Lando has a huge gap compared to Max vs Ric. But no one wants that convo.

    Reply moderated
  16. ” I thought that within one lap it couldn’t possibly dry up like it did”
    Narrator: but it did

    But since Toto can’t make a mistake, it must have been 100% the right call.
    Just be a man and own up to your mistake

  17. Starting p1 and finishing p3 is ablutely 100% correct hahahaha

  18. I’m not sure what planet Toto is on at the moment. Granted, the team couldn’t call Lewis to pit, and Lewis had the most to lose out of the whole field. But it’s clear for all to see that allowing the whole field to have a free pit stop over him, then dropping to last the next lap was a terrible call

    1. Ocon was actually called into pits by team, he said it himself and it can be heard on personal channel on F1 TV.
      Why there is no questions about this?

      Reply moderated
  19. Nonetheless Wolff said the team stood by its decision. “I think 100 percent [it was] the right decision and I stand by it,” he said.

    Every single person with a positive IQ is able to see that this was, with retrospect, the wrong decision.

    The fact that toto still says it was the right one shows his arrogance and solipsism.

    It calls his integrity into question after all the accidents they have caused in the last few races.

    I have massive respect for Hamilton as a human, but now have a real dislike of Mercedes as a team. For what it’s worth, I won’t be buying a merc road car.

    Bottas can recognise his mistakes – toto can’t. Fact.

  20. To be honest, what if only Hamilton boxed and the others stayed out. What are the chances he could have survived trying to navigate through 19 cars if he started from the pit lane.
    It is not possible to anticipate the actions of the other drivers when you are the one ahead.

    1. That exact reasoning goes for P2 too when Hamilton didn’t come in. But P2 came in. And P3. And … literally everyone.
      It was a stupid decision that cost them a certain win.

    2. If that happens, Hamilton will end up 1st on the 2nd lap after the restart since everyone will pit, thus giving him a clear path to victory. Remember that the track is basically bone dry. If any car dares to stay on the inters for more than 1 lap, it would be an easy overtake for Hamilton.
      Basically what you’re describing is a perfect situation for Hamilton. Fortunately, only Merc is dumb enough to stay out, thus at least Hamilton need to work harder for his position.

  21. If Hamilton had come in. Could the race have been re-started with no cars on the grid?

    And what happened to the rule that said you could not change tyres on 1st lap after re-start?
    IIRC there were penalties in the Canadian Button race.

  22. In the end the strategy doesnt really matter once the Bulls are out. Mercs on pace can start 5 minutes after race start and still win. So Toto is right

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