Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

Decision not to pit Hamilton was risk worth taking, say Mercedes

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Mercedes believe they did the right thing by not bringing Lewis Hamilton into the pits during a late Safety Car period, despite the decision backfiring.

Hamilton fell from first to fourth when the team decided to leave him out on the medium tyre compound. After the restart he was overtaken by three drivers on soft rubber, including his team mate George Russell, who took the opportunity to pit behind him.

While Max Verstappen went on to win the race, Hamilton furiously criticised his team on the radio, accusing them of “screwing” his race. Team principal Toto Wolff downplayed his driver’s reaction.

“We are the trash bin for the driver,” he told Sky. “It’s highly emotional. You’re that close, you’re racing for the win and then you’re being eaten up. So it’s clear that every emotion comes out.

“As a driver, you’re in the cockpit, you’re alone, you don’t see what’s happening. We’ll discuss in a moment.”

Wolff said the team agreed before the race they would be bold with their strategic calls in their efforts to score their first victory this season.

“Are we taking risk for the race win? Yes, we’re taking risks,” he said. “He had a tyre that was five laps old, the medium. Holding position was the right thing to do.

“At the end it didn’t work out for him, but I’d rather take the risk to win the race with Lewis rather than finish second and third.”

None of the alternative options available to Mercedes would have increased their chance of victory, said Wolff.

“You can do two things. You can either pit Lewis, lose track position against Verstappen and leave George out: screwed. You can pit both: screwed. So it was worth taking the risk.”

“We could have left both out,” he added, “but it would have been guaranteed second and third and we wouldn’t have raced for the win with Lewis.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Dutch Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

21 comments on “Decision not to pit Hamilton was risk worth taking, say Mercedes”

  1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    4th September 2022, 17:04

    I am shocked, a fair honest and realistic view from Toto without unrealistic bold claims and hypotheticals.
    First time in a long long time I agree with/believe something Toto said.

    1. Yeah, this seems like a solid assessment of the situation to me as well @jelle-van-der-meer

    2. wow, if you paid attention it was very similar to Abu Dhabi. Mercedes didnt learn anything. How can an old mediums be faster than Verstappen+New Softs+Faster car? That was the only chance to be 2-3 for mercedes.

  2. This makes no sense.

    Under the safety car they have a few options…

    Leave both out and use Russell as a rear gunner = small chance of win, probable 3rd and 4th
    Pit Hamilton, leave Russell out or vice versa = no chance of win, probable 2nd and 4th
    Pit both = no chance of win, probable 2nd and 3rd.

    1. Or they could have left that choice to Verstappen. Pitt leader Hamilton and leave Verstappen to pit or stay out for track position. At least then Hamilton on fresh rubber stands a better chance against anyone else on fresh rubber. He would certainaly have made the podium. Its a simple calculation, how could Mercedes have got it so wrong?

      1. Verstappen had track position when the safety car came out. He pitted first onto the softs so Hamilton didn’t have the option to pit before him.

    2. Exactly. I don’t get it.

      I do wonder exactly how strategy decisions are made sometimes; simulations and projections from the computers are tools, not gospel. Only RB really seems to have a handle on just making the obvious calls without overthinking.

      Russell basically made the (correct) decision himself, like Sainz in Monaco.

  3. “We could have left both out,” he added, “but it would have been guaranteed second and third and we wouldn’t have raced for the win with Lewis.”

    You could have left Russell out to try to give Hamilton a breathing room, or at least pit Hamilton who was the faster driver all weekend on softs rather than pitting Russell. At least do not give anyone an easy win. Although, I think Mercedes were expecting Hamilton to keep Verstappen behind to make his tyres overheat. One thing I have sometimes doubted about Hamilton, is that he does not fight unless there is anything worth it.

    1. In that case it’s surprising he got overtaken so fast, he was racing for the likely only win of the season.

  4. I saw that interview and in general Toto was fair and balanced. But his response to the questions about pitting scenarios don’t add up:

    “We could have left both out,” he added, “but it would have been guaranteed second and third and we wouldn’t have raced for the win with Lewis.”

    Either he mis-spoke or he’s not telling the truth there. Clearly if leaving both cars out meant finishing 2nd and 3rd, leaving just Lewis out means the same (or worse). The only ways to race for the win would have been to not pit either car or to pit both of them.

    If you don’t pit at all, you use Russell as the buffer and hope Hamilton can warm his tyres up enough in the first 1-2 laps to keep Max at bay. If you pit both cars, you give Red Bull the choice to either get track position on older, harder tyres or to stay behind Lewis on the same tyre compound. On reflection, I think pitting both cars would have actually given them the greatest chance of winning.

    1. Otherwise he would behind Max also with softs and had a decent chance to overtake Max. It a much beter then doing nothing. You can say a lot over RB head of stratic but she didn’t made 1 error this season.

    2. Idk if you misspoke but pitting both cars gives Verstappen the chance to get new softs *and* have track positon.

      You are right though that Toto is (cleverly) hiding the fact that they gave in to Russell’s snap call to save his own race, when Mercedes intended to use him as fodder so Hamilton could warm the tyres and maybe even build a bit of a gap without pressure from behind and potentially win. Russell could at least give him 9 car lengths on the restart; if Lewis restarts in a slow corner that is a considerable amount of time. That should have been the plan, but no use telling the opposition.

      Pitting both was the next best option, for a double podium, instead of the chance at a win. They had two laps to do it, so not even a risky double stack.

      Pitting one was just moronic. But Russell took good care of himself, screwing Hamilton in the process, similar to how Sainz fed Leclerc to the sharks in Silverstone.

  5. They simply did a Ferrari which is not good.

  6. He couldn’t keep the lead for 5 seconds. How was it worth taking.

    From my sofa here i knew he wasnt getting even a podium. 10 laps to go, light cars, no tyre management.

    What were they thinking?

    1. thats the problem, they weren’t thinking

  7. I think James is not the one who is giving strategies anymore, their new strategist is Toto himself. No wonder they are screwing up like ferrari in the last races.

  8. Russell raced for himself today and not for the team. Toto tries to present this as a team strategy whereas a team strategy to win would keep 2 cars in front of your main competitor. What really happened is loss of control and an Abu Dhabi II for Lewis.

    1. A different strategic problem (Kobayashi Maru) but for Ham a waking flashback for sure.
      No proof but I think they were probably set to leave both out until Russell made his case.

  9. At the restart Russell didnt do Hamilton any favors, he was well behind Vestappen into the last corner and no where near being in his slipsyream at the start. So instead of hassling Verstappen, he was busing defending from Leclerc. He should have right no Vertappens tail to hound him especially as he was on the same tyres.

    1. *He should have been right on Vertappens tail

  10. I don’t understand his comment about leaving both out being settling for 2nd and 3rd, if anything that would’ve been MORE of an attempt to win rather than just hamilton.

Comments are closed.