Hamilton says he wouldn’t have made a second pit stop in Russell’s position

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton isn’t convinced his team mate made the right call by pitting from second place during a Virtual Safety Car period in the Singapore Grand Prix.

George Russell was running second behind eventual winner Carlos Sainz Jnr when a VSC was triggered in response to Esteban Ocon’s car coming to a stop. Mercedes brought both their drivers into the pits to make an extra tyre change, switching them to fresh medium compound tyres in a bid to chase down and pass the leaders.

The gamble did not fully pay off for Mercedes. Russell only made it as far as third before crashing out on the final lap. Hamilton, who inherited his third place, felt the team’s decision was justified but wasn’t convinced Russell should have given up second place to make his extra pit stop.

“We needed to take the risk, have a shot at trying to get past some of these guys and go for the win,” he said. “I think we had really good pace, I think the team did a great job.

“I don’t know, I think for George who was in second at the time, maybe if I was in his position, I probably would have stayed out and at least kept the McLaren behind. But we gave it a shot and it was really fun to be hunting these guys down.”

However Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was certain that seizing the opportunity to bring both drivers into the pits was the correct decision.

“It was absolutely the right call. We would have finished P2, P5, maybe P2, P4 and we wanted to win the race. So we took the risk and every day of the week I would do it again.”

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Wolff said the team pay close attention to what is theoretically the best strategy and try to balance that against the reality of the race situation. The team were fully behind the decision to pit both drivers.

“It’s algorithms and it’s probabilities in the background,” he said. “There’s mathematicians and scientists and strategists at work to come up with the best solutions. And then there is more simple racer minds that are trying to find the best compromise.

“In that case, there was a lot of debate beforehand when to put the car in the Safety Car window or Virtual Safety Car window. But we did it and then it was deployed and we were all behind it.”

Hamilton was out qualified by his team mate in Singapore and spent the race behind him until the final lap. He sympathised with Russell over his mistake.

“We’re all trying to be millimetre-perfect out there and it’s very, very easy to make mistakes. It’s very easy for any of us to have been in the position that George was in.

“He’s been driving phenomenally all weekend so it was really unfortunate for him on the last lap to finish that way. But he continues to grow, he’s continuing to improve. I know that he’s going to keep getting stronger and faster, and if there’s any way I can help, I will be a part of that naturally over the next couple of years.”

The veteran of 325 F1 races pointed out that even with his experience he still makes occasional errors. “I have a lot of experience. I’ve been here a long time. Putting together a race is not that easy, but the race is where I’m most comfortable on track. I think it’s just [about] keeping your head down.

“But if you look at last year for example, I made a mistake in turn seven and went off and crashed into the wall. So it can happen to any one of us. It’s just one of those things.”

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66 comments on “Hamilton says he wouldn’t have made a second pit stop in Russell’s position”

  1. He’s right.

    1. It made sense to pit, but not both cars. Russell had already said on the radio, that he thought his hards would last to the end, which means he just had to hold ground to finish 2nd. Hamilton would have pitted faster on his own, joined the race 4 seconds earlier, and very likely made 3rd on merit. Had Hamilton caught up to Russell, with 3 laps to go, Mercedes might have said to Russelll let him go for the win, or give the place back on the line. All of this would have made more sense than what they went for.

      Mercedes pitting to cover any potential pit stops by the other drivers made sense but only for the car behind.

      1. I was certainly expecting them to just pit Hamilton as a gamble rather then both.

        1. i dont understand why they put russel on the same strategy as ham. they slowed down ham unnecessarily, and lost the buffer russel was providing. ham on the hand made this work before once almost twice! yeah we wouldnt know if ham could make this one work too, but it became obviouos ham was catching the pack quicker than russel. would be logical choice to let ham try first. not sure why not play the boss and order it. let him know if he couldnt make it, they d swap at the end if they were close enough! or better yet use clever tactics like sainz to back norris to russel to get 2-3 instead of 3-4 they were stuck at

        2. Yes, me too, or at least that’s what I think they should’ve done (already at the time of the pit stop), can never predict when a team is gonna go for the right strategy, like ferrari did today.

        3. Craig:Excellent comment and observation.
          Fact is letting Hamilton win was never the plan in Singapore:
          splitting strategies would have given Hamilton a chance to finish in FRONT of Russell and possibly win.
          That was never the scenario desired by toto wolf today!!!!

          1. I think that’s part of the problem: splitting the strategies would have been a better “hedge”, but it would have caused serious bad feeling within the team had it led to Hamilton taking the win.

            The other reason, though, was that they considered it to be the optional strategy at that point for both cars. Pitting neither would leave them in 2nd and 5th. Pitting only Hamilton would have, at best, given them 1st and 3rd. Pitting both had the potential to gain them a 1-2. In fact, it was only a very clever half dozen laps by Sainz which prevented them improving their total points tally.

          2. @drmouse something sticking with Mercedes since Rosberg days to give drivers equal treatment (at least publicly), but it tends to translate into same strategy which isn’t necessarily the best for the team.

            On a year with so few wins available, I’m surprised teams don’t split strategies more in an attempt to capitalise on race scenarios.

          3. Yeah, I agree with Dr. Mouse there. It would have handed the advantage to Hamilton or wouldn’t have changed much for the win without that. Surely Red Bull (and Ferrari up until a few races ago) would have done that and handed the win to Max or Charles respectively, but that is not how Mercedes works, not to mention you would have to count on Russel letting Hamilton take that – we all know that he would not give the spot back to Russel at the end, right (we’ve seen that before from him)

        4. I agree, by pitting only Lewis, but imagine wins the race, this will rub George up the wrong way, people will say “Toto and his golden child”, Russell was thrown under the bus blah blah

          1. but that’s exactly what ferrari did with leclerc and they won, if a race win is on the line then someone has to be sacrificed

      2. Excellent comment and observation.
        Fact is letting Hamilton win was never the plan in Singapore:
        splitting strategies would have given Hamilton a chance to finish in FRONT of Russell and possibly win.
        That was never the scenario desired by toto wolf today!!!!

        1. Correct. In some ways Toto’s excellent man management and the way he generally conducts himself is a credit to modern sport. However, the team is often far too nice.

          It was astonishing at how much faster Hamilton was in race pace – but of course not fast enough to do a clean overtake around Singapore.

          Frustrating really as a Merc win was possible. However as I said previously and Lewis aludes to, it’s his own fault for his relatively poor qualifying.

          1. the way he generally conducts himself is a credit to modern sport

            That must be sarcasm!?

      3. I have to agree with lewis here split the stratic between the drivers now you had 2 drivers driving in each wake which isn’t that great for the tyres.

    2. George would have never overtaken Carlos Sainz with his old tyres (unless Carlos made a serious mistake of course) With the change to new softs he had a serious opportunity. The attempt on Lando was a close run thing, and once he got behind Carlos all bets would have been off.

      So what Sir is saying means basically: Never give any chance to my teammate, even if he is ahead and qualified better. The team has the sacred duty to give all the opportunities to me, me, me, me, me alone.

    3. I totally agree with Hamilton. Only he should have gone for the tyre change at that moment. In fact, Ferrari should have pitted Leclerc too, for the same reason.

  2. Hindsight is always 20/20 but another safety car a few laps after Mercedes pitted would have put them on the back of the leaders with a softer tyre that would warm up quicker. Bearing that in mind it was definitely the right call. They had a best chance of a 1-2 with a bit of luck or 3-4 if it played out as it did. Without stopping a 2-4 looked the best possible result. On another day they might have even won without any luck.

  3. They gambled and lost but I can understand why Mercedes went for that call. You don’t get an off pace Verstappen Red Bull much this season.

    Either Russell stayed a good boy and followed Sainz home in P2 or lose some time in a VSC and gamble everything for P1, in maybe the one weekend in a year you don’t have to worry about a Verstappen driven Red Bull.

    1. It wasn’t a gamble. It was a calculated choice.

  4. I don’t get why they didn’t switch Russel and Hamilton with about 8 laps to go. Hamilton was much, much faster and then Russel got bogged down behind Norris after he burned his tires out. What a joke. Even with 3 laps to go it still would have been beneficial and then of course after holding up Hamilton Russel bins it.

    1. If Hamilton was so much faster than Russell, he should have overtaken him.

      1. If you know anything about Formula 1, you wouldn’t have said that.

        This is like saying if Russell was much faster than Sainz and Norris, he should have overtaken them.

        He was certainly fast enough to challenge both the front runners much more than Russell could.

        After their last pit stops, he had far better pace than his teammate, and Mercedes should have split the strategies at least.

        This race shows why Red Bull are where they are. They are far more ruthless about winning a race.

        1. If you know anything about Formula 1

          If I had to learn about F1 from Red Andy or from you, I know whom I would choose

          1. It doesn’t matter who you would choose. You still don’t know enough about F1, obviously.

            Having a faster car doesn’t mean it is easy to overtake – especially on street tracks. This is why team orders exist.

            In fact, according to someone who knows more about Formula 1 (Toto Wolff) than you or Red Andy, you need almost a 2 sec advantage to overtake at Singapore – especially when in a DRS train.

            Try again.

          2. I won’t argue will you nor play chess with a pigeon, exactly for the same reasons

        2. @kbdavies Actually in nowadays F1 it is very rare to use team orders when both drivers are on the same strategy and both drivers are not fighting for the championship. I agree with you when Hamilton had fresh tyres and Russell had not but they were on the same strategy fighting for the same position.

          1. The problem is one driver has a history of making unforced errors and binning it whilst under pressure, whilst the other driver has a proven track record of making such alternative strategies work.

            Incidentally, the latter driver was the much faster one.

            It wasn’t a difficult decision at all. It was just one that Mercedes chose not to make.

            This is what separates them from Red Bull.

      2. According to Mercedes, you needed about a 2 second advantage to overtake at Singapore. Hamilton had about 1-1.5 seconds. Definitely faster, definitely could have put pressure on Norris, but overtaking Russell on merit was probably just a bit too far.

      3. I cannot believe Toto Wolf can be so short sighted as a team principal:
        It is Ferrari they are fighting here for constructor championship points and MONEY!!!
        Not Red bull or mc laren.
        They should have hold position for George and let Hamilton gamble win or 4th with tyre change.
        But these days at Mercedes it is Russell first!!!
        At all costs.
        Toto Wolf should be sacked as principal.
        He is no good at keeping good technicians brought in by Ross brawn and no good at winning since the team put together by Ross Brawn 10 years ago started to leave for Red Bull and others.
        No new talent at Mercedes for 10 years now.

        1. You know Toto owns a great part of the team ……. It’s a bit the same as the Strolls.

      4. 2 points
        George needs to go offline to line up Lando, but this will put him at the risk of loosing his position to Lewis
        Also George is weary of a repeat of what happened at the Dutch GP when he tried to pass Lando

    2. I don’t get why they didn’t switch Russel and Hamilton with about 8 laps to go.

      I guess they couldn’t find anybody brave enough to tell Russell ;)
      But based on speed, and especially based on Hamilton’s race craft, I think it would’ve been a Mercedes win had they done it.

      1. Not sure, Lewis was in the by far fastest car but lucking into third he never even tried to attack Norris.
        So we can conclude the fastest car did not win and Lewis pushed George into an error.
        Not a great day for Mercedes, even without toto chenigans

    3. I don’t get why they didn’t switch Russel and Hamilton with about 8 laps to go.

      Because F1 drivers are notoriously bad team players.

      If this were an endurance sportscar race, that’s exactly what would have happened.

    4. There wasn’t really a good reason to swap them as they were more or less equal in pace. Rather then have them fight and argue it would be better for Hamilton to hold behind and pick up the pieces of anything going wrong for Russell.

      1. Hamilton was quicker. I think he’d made up about 3 seconds on Russell by the time they’d caught Leclerc.

      2. Lewis gained three seconds on Russell within half a dozen laps after their final stops. Both were flat out.
        +5 seconds gap after Lewis exits pit
        +2 seconds gap by the time George is impeded by Leclerc.

        One guy was much faster than the other. However, it would have been crazy to ask George to move over, and he wouldn’t have complied anyway. I don’t have a big issue with George’s crash had it been in isolation, but he already crashed in Montreal and Monaco this year, and his mistake was silly and needless one. It wasn’t like he pushed too hard to pass Lando and just barely got it wrong.

  5. From what i could see from Russell he wanted to win the race, not be 2nd, and as he spent most of the race behind Sainz doing nothing, what would’ve changed if he had stayed out? He would likely be 2nd anyway or told to move over for Hamilton to win.

    1. That is exactly why he opted for that strategy – because it didn’t make sense for Mercedes to put both cars on that strategy, rather than split them.

      Quite clearly, Russell wanted to be on the same strategy as Hamilton, because he was more worried about his teammate beating him, than he was about winning the race.

      You could see this in the last laps, and he actually crashed because Lewis was putting him under immense pressure.

      1. I don’t think that’s completely right, I think russell just really wanted to win, you could see it in his team radios early in the race, constantly asking the team to try stuff for that, and so obviously it made more sense from a team perspective to let him keep 2nd place, pit hamilton and in case he could come back fast enough, swap places with russell to let hamilton go for the win, if not give him the place back, but russell wanted the win for himself, so he decided to gamble as well: pitting was the only possibility to win, it just made more sense in hamilton’s position than russell’s.

      2. Esploratore: Excellent comment and observation.
        Totally second you on this.

    2. Well at the end of the race he is devastated for losing 3rd or 4th or any place.
      So good luck for wanting to win at all costs!!!!
      He won:a goose egg today.

  6. Like LeClerc, Hamilton was disadvantaged by the first round of pitstops due to the teams needing to double pit, but Hamilton seemed to claw back the lost time quickly and did seem the quicker of the two Merc drivers when they were in traffic. I said yesterday that I would have liked to see Merc use a split strategy on the cars today. If Russell had kept track position instead of coming in for tyres, Sainz would have had to continue pushing instead of bunching them up. and might have run out of rubber before the end of the race, giving Russell a shot at P1. Equally, Hamilton would have been able to battle Norris once he’d closed the gap, instead of wasting laps staring at the rear end of Russel’s car.

    1. It was not Sainz That Russell was fighting as per Mercedes,Hamilton was whom russell was fighting not ferrari or sainz.
      it cost them,mercedes dearly today.

  7. If they’d done what Hamilton is suggesting, they’d have had P2 (RUS) and P3 (HAM) minimum, depending on how quickly Hamilton got into P3. Enough laps and he could have passed Russell and gone after Sainz.
    So yes. Even without counting Russell’s DNF.

    1. Exactly. plus Hamilton would have pitted faster, and so gained another 4 seconds on the cars who didn’t pit.

      1. 10/10
        you do not have to be a genius to realize that is the reason you have 2 cars.
        Hamilton is sending a message here.
        To mercedes higher management : Mercedes was not the priority here today:
        Russell was!!!
        It was for Russell to win or nothing.
        He got nothing and Mercedes lost 12 easy points.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          18th September 2023, 14:52

          That’s a good point – Mercedes never thought for a moment that Lewis could win this and were gambling the house on Russell.

          When they realized that Lewis had more pace, they had checkmated themselves by also pitting Russell and in so doing delaying Lewis and putting the biggest possible challenge in front of him.

          It also showed them that the team should have a bit more faith in the driver with 401 wins, poles, and podiums in 325 races. I think victory was a very tricky proposition even for Lewis with his experience.

      2. But the only way they could have got a win, which is what they were going for, would be with Hamilton. That would have really upset Russell, and wouldn’t have been worth it for the team dynamic.

        1. miami 22 and zandvoort 22 would like a word

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          18th September 2023, 15:00

          @drmouse well, Russell is an amazing driver but yesterday’s victory was a reach for him given that Norris had parked the car and Sainz was using Norris as a roadblock. These are both great drivers and old teammates so it was going to be super tricky.

          Lewis may have been able to challenge and would have at least tried a few times so it would have made sense for Mercedes to use their more experienced driver to get this victory. I think if Lewis had passed Sainz then Russell may have had a chance to pounce as well.

          Putting Russell in front of Lewis and slowing him down was the end of the race for Lewis as overtaking his own teammate requires more finesse than overtaking both Norris and Sainz.

    2. sometimes mercedes needs to understand to use split strategies and not equal ones given the circumstances! they slowed down ham unnecessarily twice, and lost the advantage of buffer and pressure they could insert on sainz to finish his tyres! this way they could get 2-3 worst case and 1-2 or 1-3 instead of 3-4 they stuck on! even there ham hinted to be let by, but no chance. ham is already way ahead of russel on points, why not let him through? dont understand some choices

      1. @mysticus as other people have I said, I think it’s a clear case of Mercedes preferring a worse team result so long as Russell finished ahead of Hamilton since RUS had track advantage and had qualified higher. But that ignores the data they clearly had that Hamilton was faster in the race (maybe because of a better race setup: if so then it’s really a question for the team in general: if a driver goes for quali setup and grid position over race pace, why should the team give preference to that driver in the race?)
        Maybe, as Hamilton seems to be suggesting, it was more Russell’s idea to go for the 2-stop, maybe in part to prevent Hamilton from getting any advantage too. Not sure how this decision to pit panned out between the team and drivers. Did the team decide on both or did the drivers each want to go for it, or did one driver decide they wanted the strategy too after learning the other would 2-stop?

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          18th September 2023, 15:18


          if a driver goes for quali setup and grid position over race pace, why should the team give preference to that driver in the race?

          Yep, if one driver is faster than the other, you need to swap but I also feel this is what makes Mercedes different. Lewis made up 7 seconds on Russell and was in the worst position he could possibly find himself behind his teammate with a P3 and P4 on the line which may cost them a spot in the WCC. So he can’t take any chances and just hang there as Russell’s wingman which for most folks it wouldn’t have made sense when a victory is on the line.

          Splitting strategies would have resolved that but Russell’s comments that he wants a different strategy and to win the race may have played into this.

          Swapping would have made Russell unhappy perhaps but Toto could have explained it with the speed differential and the fact that Lewis had the better chance of winning there afterwards. But not swapping, has to make Lewis unhappy as he could have fought for the victory on pace but it’s clear that his team didn’t consider it.

          This was a huge concession by the team for Russell on track after seeing the differentials so he should be very appreciative of the treatment he gets at Mercedes and the respect he gets from both Wolff and Lewis.

          Mercedes is definitely a different type of F1 team and, as fans, we have to appreciate that too. Maybe Lewis lost a chance but this makes all his other victories and defeats a bit more special, right?

  8. Lewis would’ve stayed out because he has ultimate confidence in his ability to preserve his tires and pass Carlos for the win. George never forced Carlos to use his tires for 40+ laps. Look at what happened to Charles when he had to push.

  9. Mercedes were foolish to not split the strategy and gamble both ways.
    Almost designed to keep George ahead of Hamilton and not reverse the order in the team.

    Either bring George in and leave Ham out, or probably smarter as George had better track position bring Ham in and leave George out.

    1. I don’t think Russell would have liked that. Tough luck for us because Hamilton was the faster driver in that critical final stint. Hamilton could have qualified better really, but it was frustrating to have Hamilton faster than Russell at that time. I was shouting a bit saying: « George you need to catch them faster »

    2. This is the 2nd time that I remember that russell ruins a team result for a selfish reason: remember that race in hungary 2022 when they were trying to go for a win with hamilton, but russell decided to pit, leaving hamilton vulnerable to verstappen? Having a drs train would’ve made the difference.

      1. yep. sadly thats true. george needs to stand his ground against lewis, but he misjudges that needs to be done performance-wise, and most important by always working for the overall team result. none of them is in the run for WDC.

      2. Not agree it was Russell who ruined the team result. Ham kept pressure on Russell and he even had to defend against Lewis loosing precious seconds.
        In fact Lewis pushed George in an error and went for his own podium at the cost of many points.
        After he inherited third place the way faster Lewis not even tried to attack Norris.
        Bad day for Mercedes.
        They had by far the fastest car but we’re unable to collect the win.

        1. What was Hamilton supposed to do? He was faster. True he was close but not once did he make an actual attempt to pass or even signal that he’d do so. The only thing I remember was a radio message saying George needed to get a move on. Which was true. The error was down to Russell himself, who was following Norris, who made the exact same mistake but was luckier (RUS probably following his line into the wall).
          I don’t think Russell pushed the Ferrari enough early on either. Hamilton or Verstappen look to force mistakes from drivers ahead even when passing is tricky. And the Ferrari has worse tyre deg.

  10. Mercedes at fault here, they lost those points and a likely 2-3 finish, or even a 1-2.
    I think pitting both was probably the most obvious choice to ensure they didn’t give Lewis an advantage over George (who was ahead of Lewis), but it is in the subsequent strategy calls – or lack of them – that Mercedes lost. It was clear that Hamilton had lots of pace but was not going to attack his teammate that aggressively. George gave up trying to pass Lando with 3-4 laps to go and effectively just sat back to defend against Hamilton. This let Lando off the hook. I remember the Bottas days, when either of the two would be told to let the other pass and have a go at passing an opponent ahead and, if he couldn’t pass within a lap or two, would give the position back to the teammate.
    Mercedes could have tried this here, give Lewis 2 laps to catch and pass Lando (and give George a good tow in the process) or, failing that, hand back the position to George on the last lap. Lewis has done that before with Bottas, so it works.
    I’m getting more and more disappointed in George, if I’m honest: while he has the pace and the daring, he just doesn’t seem to ever think big-picture. His objectives generally seem to be very short-term, as a monitoring of his radio messages in various races shows: the phrase “…be attacked by my teammate” pops up many times whenever he’s immediately ahead of Lewis. His race management is wonderful when the car is terrible, because he takes risks that Lewis simply won’t take and thus sometimes lucks into results he had no right getting, but as the car improves and longer-term planning becomes more important than short-term risk-taking, he’s starting to fall short very significantly. His tyre management is really poor, so Lewis always reels him in across a race distance. Granted, Lewis is The GOAT, yes, but still – they’re in the same car.
    The standings table looks ominous – Lewis could DNF twice, with Russell winning both races, and still be ahead by 21 points or so in the standings.
    Not good enough, George!

  11. This is nothing new with Mercedes, they aint Redbull.

    There is a reason they didn’t win 10 etc in a row when they had such a dominant car/driver because of the lack of conviction to back their best driver.

    All good when you are the best but in the drier seasons, you need to take the opportunities where they come and today was one. It because clear as day Lewis was the faster guy (as usual) in race, so back him and go for the win.

  12. hindsight being what it is, the only way Mercedes would have won the race is if they only pitted Hamilton and asked Russell to slow down Norris and himself and let Hamilton charge for 1st.

    Why they asked Russell to pit is beyond me, why he agreed, or why he felt compelled to give up track position on the ‘hope’ of possibly a safety car or possibly making up the difference made no sense.

    Mercedes biggest problem is that they pit their drivers on impossible missions/setting them up for failure. They believe they are more clever than they really are, and this hubris wreaks of FOMO, or desperate thinking in order to take it all.

    If Red Bull were running Mercedes, they would have never stopped winning championships, and the guys who punted the aero design of that car, would have had to explain themselves the same year. (denial).

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