Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2021

‘The team thought rain was coming’ says Hamilton after pit stop error costs him win

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton explained the error which left him on the wrong tyres for the restart of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver started from pole position and got away in the lead while chaos unfolded behind him. A multiple-car collision involving team mate Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo decimated the field to leave Esteban Ocon running second, Sebastian Vettel third.

The race was suspended and Hamilton was set to lead the grid on the standing restart. However as the track dried out every driver behind him pitted to switch to slicks before the restart, leaving Hamilton the only driver on the grid, still on intermediates.

“I was telling the team how the track was through the lap but they said the rain was coming, when we got in the car, so I thought they had other information and I saw everyone diving in.”

Hamilton pitted after one lap for medium tyres but emerged last, leaving him to fight his way back to the front. He made it as far as third place by the chequered flag, but out-scored championship rival Max Verstappen and retook the lead in the points standings.

The seven-times world champion told his team on the radio afterwards they had thrown an “easy” win away.

Hamilton looked exhausted by his efforts after the race. “Today was definitely tough,” he admitted, “we always make it difficult for ourselves and crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the [re]start but these things happen and we learn from them.

“I gave it everything and I had nothing left at the end.”

The race was won by Ocon for Alpine, who Hamilton congratulated on his breakthrough victory, which he scored ahead of Vettel’s Aston Martin.

“Huge congratulations to the Alpine team and to Ocon,” said Hamilton, “he’s been a shining star for some time now so it’s been a long time coming and I’m really, really happy for him.

“It’s great to see Aston Martin up there, their best result so far and I know there’s more to come. ”

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2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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45 comments on “‘The team thought rain was coming’ says Hamilton after pit stop error costs him win”

  1. That’s apparently not what his own team told Sky sports.

    1. He was asking for pit as he said it’s dry and waited but forgot he couldn’t be answered…

  2. Do we know how Hamilton is? He looked close to collapsing on the podium

    1. Yea, he looked like he could barely move his arm… I was thinking he was about to collapse, but thankfully he did not

  3. Thank goodness for some classic Mercedes incompetence, it gives us hope this title fight will rumble on late into the year.

    1. @lejimster82
      I’m not that optimistic. The W12 on the harder compounds in race conditions seems to be on another planet compared to all the cars RBR included. We couldn’t see the potential of Verstappen’s car for two consecutive races but Mercedes are certainly back into their old realms.
      Maybe they have unlocked so much performance with the new package introduced in the British GP or the new tyre construction… I think we have to wait for Verstappen’s answer in the next 2/3 races to see if the title battle will continue till the end of the season or will it be another walk in the park for Mercedes.

      1. “Another planet” is a bit strong! Lewis is faster on the harder compounds but let’s leave the Hyperbole to the “journalists” 👍

        1. DeanR,
          Hamilton’s pace in both Silverstone and Hungary was scary to say the least. He was pulling more than 1s a lap from Leclerc’s time on an older set of hard tyres. Leclerc was on a newer set of hard tyres and was scoring his best personal lap times but still he at least 1s a lap slower than Hamilton on average. Hamilton on Hungary was pulling 2 to 3 seconds a lap from the guys in front of him though he was on the medium compounds.

          Another planet compared to the competition he faced in Hungary and Silverstone but like I said we need to see Verstappen’s answer in the next 2/3 races and if Hamilton will still have the same edge on him pace wise then I’m sure they are back into their old realms.

  4. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    1st August 2021, 17:16

    Tbh it was funny to watch Hamilton sitting there all alone on the grid. Don’t all teams use a centralised weather reporting system?

    1. It was absolutely hilarious, and not because it meant Hamilton would effectively fall back. A picture for the F1 history books. :-)

      1. @d0senbrot Presumably it breaks the record for the fewest cars to take a standing start, from the US GP of 2005.

        I wonder what race control would have done if every car had pitted, though. Would they have sent the Safety Car round for an extra formation lap or would they just have shown the five lights to an empty grid, then opened the pit exit straight away?

        1. @red-andy Usually the starting procedure will be aborted if it is delayed or for a safety concern. There seems to be no rule for this precedent, so they might just go ahead with the five lights, regardless of an empty grid.

      2. @d0senbrot
        @keithcollantine

        That was a great image, one worthy of the caption competition!

    2. They couldn’t tell him. He should do all decisions himself before the start.

    3. Hey he want some. There were 2 Mercedes cars. Second, painted red, lost it miserably.

    4. It topped the MotoGP German race from few years back(though back then rider who made right tyre gamble was unintentionally penalised by stewards).

  5. Shouldn’t this be a driver decision as teams are not allowed to help drivers, certainly ted was talking about the opposite info that mercs were having.

    Reply moderated
  6. The blunder has been overshadowed by how unlucky Verstappen was. Serious mistake and what a bizarre sight of the empty grid at the restart.

    Question for invested people: When did the race director launch the lights sequence? Was it when Hamilton stopped at his spot, or only once all the remaining cars went into pits? Was it precisely when everyone else entered pits or was there some delay? Because to me, it seemed like Hamilton spent too much time on the grid compared to those who pitted and it must have either Hamilton slotting relatively late to his starting position or race director waiting for something. Does anyone know?

    1. Because have to wait till the last car entered the pitlane to start the start light sequence.

      1. That would make sense, but was that the case this time?

    2. I’m also interested to hear what the official regulations are for this.
      Were cars still driving on the track / pit lane when the lights started? I don’t trust Masi to have not made a m

      1. I believe most of the cars were already waiting in pit-stop line when the race was restarted so it is extremely unlikely anyone was still on track when the light sequence commenced.

    3. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      1st August 2021, 17:37

      Another interesting question: depending on the speed of your pitstop, are you allowed to change positions or do you have to line up in the pit lane in the exact order as the grid?

      1. I think there have been some changes in the order while in the pits, so they surely did not line up in same order. There was also at least one unsafe release from Alpha Romeo so they were indeed racing in the pits.

      2. Interesting question. I Cant answer it, but interesting none the less.

  7. Mercedes were both lucky and unlucky. Lucky because Lewis gained 14 points on Max but unlucky because they made a terrible call at the restart to stay on inters and could have had an easy victory today.
    Alonso deserves praise for winning the race for Alpine.
    Overall am amazing race. It was good for the show that Lewis fell to the back of the grid otherwise the race would have been dull.

  8. If Hamilton had come in for dry tyres on the restart then three or four others perhaps including Verstappen may well have seen an opportunity. So he was damned as the pole sitter if he did or did not come in on the second formation lap.

  9. Any one would thing tha red flag moment was being used as an unofficial extra Hamilton penalty.

    One sky commentator said he was told by someone in Mercedes that their weather reports says it was all clear, this was before they set out on the formation lap. so yeah, no excuses for that screwup. All the other drivers were reporting back that the track was ok. I can only think, Mercedes hadn’t planned for a tire change when they had the redflag, and needed an extra lap to heat up the tires.

    1. I think there are two points worth acknowledging here.

      First I don’t think the red flag was intended to hurt Hamilton. However 15 minutes was way longer than they needed to clear the track. They were not repairing damage to the barriers. I don’t believe it was intentional, but this put Hamilton at a bigger disadvantage as conditions dried. He still made the wrong decision and it’s in his hands, but if they restarted the race after 5 minutes it would have been harder for everyone else and he would not have lost as many places.

      The simple solution here would have been to route the cars through pit Lane. That would have allowed them to clean up the majority of the mass without red flagging the race. That would have been much more advantageous to Mercedes.

      There was outraged last weekend that Hamilton had time to repair his car due to the red flag. We’ll see if there’s outrage this week The Verstappen got to repair his damage. I also like to see the mechanics rushing and showing off their skills. I certainly hope notions of changing the repair under red flag rules have been put to rest.

      1. @slotopen They added extra time to the red flag precisely so the teams could do those repairs. Hamilton could have made the call himself to pit, but it’s seems it’s down to poor communication between him and the team over ‘expected rain.’

  10. Russell just made an interesting point in his Sky interview. Because Mercedes has the first garage in the pit lane, if the entire grid had followed him in then he might have not had a gap to release the car into, so would end up having to wait for the entire field to pass through. Not sure if that was a factor in their decision as Mercedes haven’t mentioned it, but interesting to think about anyway.

    1. Toto said the same thing in his interview with Sky just before that.

    2. @keithedin Ah yeah, so he could have been last in that case as well. Indeed that, could have influenced their thinking too.

  11. George made a good point. Ham pits and being in the first pit then has to wait for the whole grid to come past him before he can exit. No way is he going to keep the lead.

    1. I don’t think it would have worked that way. He would have lost places to anyone who made a faster pit stop. Independing on the location of the Mercedes garage he might have lost places as cars filtered in and out.

      But he would have been way better off. As it was he had to come through almost the entire field.

      And anyone who stayed out to try to pass him would have been stuck pitting just like Hamilton did.

      He made an uncharacteristically poor decision in taking the start rather than pitting.

      1. He would have been better off; although I think in that scenario a few would have also gone to the grid and thrown the dice as well. Not the best decision, but with the expected pit lane chaos probably the safest.

  12. Big Lewis fan…but… got to question this a bit. Merc were ready with the tyres in the pits. They cant communicate so it was completely down to Lewis’ decision. It’s easy to say he made an error in hindsight but it was probably an error, especially when you consider every other driver stopped. ALTHOUGH… George Russell made a good point I didn’t think of: if Lewis had stopped, the position of the Merc Garage would’ve meant Lewis wouldve been stuck in his box while other cars piled pass costing him significant places. Not an easy decision to make when you lead the race. Great recovery by Lewis around a difficult track to overtake on. Kudos to Alonso, no quater given, but as per usual the ego that is Nando tries to make it all about him when his team mate won. Lewis lost 10 significant points today but leading the championship after being 33 points down 3 weeks ago, is a great turn around. On to Spa!

    1. Have to agree with that about Nando. Do formation flying when you have a 1st and 2nd, but at least give the guy his moment out on track.

    2. It was Lewis his call but he forgot the team could reply him…

  13. He made a mistake here, which will remained in the history books. Reminds me of the infamous US GP grid of 2005.
    By the way, had Hamilton pitted with everyone, how would have the start procedure pan out? An empty grid with the lights going out, and then the opening of the pitlane? What a strange view that would have been!

  14. The track was dry and the sky clear. Even if rain was coming you would lose seconds a lap on the inters before it did.

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