Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2021

Better result was possible for Hamilton if we pitted earlier – Mercedes

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Mercedes believe that they needed to pit Lewis Hamilton earlier than they did in order for him to finish higher than fifth in the Turkish Grand Prix.

Hamilton ran as high as third at one point in the race after deciding not to fit a fresh set of intermediate tyres at the same time as Max Verstappen and his other rivals ahead. The team called him in at one stage, but he decided to stay out.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team had to decide between coming in at that point or risking a run to the end of the race without pitting. They opted for the latter, but abandoned the strategy after they became concerned how much time Hamilton was losing to the cars behind him.

“In the car it’s always very difficult to assess your position in the race,” said Wolff. “I think we could have either played it very conservative and pitted him when Verstappen, Perez at the time pitted, and then fight it out on-track, probably come out behind Perez and fight for P4, P3 on track.”

“The other thing was to try to go long and either think whether it’s transitioning to a dry tyre or just not stopping any more. So there was two possible options that sounded quite good.”

However Hamilton’s tyres began to fade, putting him at risk of losing a place to Pierre Gasly if he pitted, leading Mercedes to bring him in with eight laps to go.

“Unfortunately the pace just dropped off much quicker than we would have needed in order to stay third or even fourth or even fifth,” said Wolff. “We almost lost the window against Gasly and then we decided okay, that’s not going to happen, and let’s pit and consolidate it.”

“So in hindsight now, I would have pitted ten laps earlier and fought it out on track, probably finished third or fourth. It was much more to gain from the other more dynamic variant.”

While Mercedes won the race with Valtteri Bottas Hamilton finished fifth. Wolff said that was the best they could have expected from 11th on the grid in a dry race, but the damp conditions meant a better result was possible.

“I think in a normal dry race, this would have probably been the best case, finishing fifth. And today best case with every decision, with the hindsight of the end result or with the information we have at the end, probably third would have been the best we could have achieved. So it’s a five point swing.

“But I think we need to walk away from here and say that was damage limitation for this weekend. And Valtteri, thank God Valtteri was up there and won the race and and scored an extra point for fastest lap.”

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2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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22 comments on “Better result was possible for Hamilton if we pitted earlier – Mercedes”

  1. So Lewis has only himself to blame to overrule the pitwall?

    Team spirit is high in the Merc team

    1. Pretty much yeah.

    2. yes that was very clear here…

  2. Never heard actual SIR Michael Schumacher arguing like this with his team

    1. Absolutely, however in this case I would’ve stayed out, pitting with 7 laps to go seems weird, hamilton was lapping well and he usually makes inters last more than others, compare for example with how much leclerc was struggling before boxing.

    2. They didn’t broadcast radio messages back then. If they did I’m sure there would have been plenty of similar messages.

  3. I thought the times weren’t that bad when they called him in. And if he’d realised he was losing two places I don’t think he’d have come in. I don’t think I’m buying the team story, I think that was their strategy computer not having all the data in it, especially the graining. And them being too attached to the thing and not thinking clearly about the whole picture.

    1. Lap47: Sainz was driving 1.31s. Lec not yet as his inters were not in window yet. Sainz pitted earlier. Gap was 10sec. Lewis driving 1.35s. So with 12 laps to go any strategist could see this going wrong. Even losing out to Gasly and Norris at the end would not have been unlikely.

      As Ocon’s laptimes showed (1.37s in the end), Lewis laptimes would only have deteriorated.

  4. Darkschneider
    10th October 2021, 17:29

    Rules in Mercedes
    1 – Lewis is always right.
    2- When Lewis is wrong, see rule Number One


    Kidding of course …

    1. The time to pit lewis would have been just as verstappen pitted,maybe even before Bottas. Lewis was caught up behind Gaslley i think at that time, had he pitted before gasley, he would have had the advantage. He would have warm up those intermediates nicely and be in a better position to push at the end. The margins were tight but he might have made 4th instead of 5th. Had he stayed out there’s every chance he would have been caught, and might even have come a cropper trying to defend against that closing car.

  5. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    10th October 2021, 17:30

    Pitting was the right call, however he should have come in 7-8 laps earlier. At the time, Leclerc and Perez were catching him at about 0.5-1s per lap with 14-15 laps to go. Without pitting, he probably would have been passed by both of them anyway. Pitting earlier would have secured a P4 at best given Perez’s staunch defence. So a net loss of 2 points in a tight battle.

  6. So Hamilton blames the team, and the team blames him.

    So it’s a five point swing.

  7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th October 2021, 18:44

    Ouch, he nearly lost 8-10 points or more with a collision.

  8. Always good to know that they prefer NOT to battle on track!

  9. I think that Michael Schumacher would have driver over wet spots of the track to keep the tires in good condition. Would be faster than the two pilota ahead? Probably not. But I’m sure he would finish better.

    1. True, and I think hamilton could’ve gone to the end without losing too much too, he had relatively good lap times.

  10. So the stress on Lewis is getting to him. Nothing new this season.
    Still 6 races to win and Austin is a typical Mercedes track.

    1. Not stress, frustration with the team’s decision because he would have preferred to stay on the old inters and try to defend 3rd or 4th rather than settle for a safe 5th.

      1. It was his own decision.
        Do not blame the team.

    2. The speed of Mercedes is quit good i hope Max can get some buffer points.

  11. Best was 5th in dry race but could have done better in damp???? Really???? Not getting it… Dry conditions would have allowed Mercedes to capitalize on their speed diff more, plus DRS would have helped a lot in overtaking. Would Perez have stayed in front with slicks? Plus, pit stops and new tires would have made sense in team strategies for under/overcuts. Oh please….

  12. The Merc package looks strong again though. HAM slight favourite imo.

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