Start, Interlagos, 2019

Hamilton defends Mercedes’ “dumb” strategy call

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton defended the strategy calls his Mercedes team made after a disappointing result in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

He ran second early in the race but a pit stop during a late Safety Car period left him fourth with two laps to go. He then collided with Alexander Albon and collected a penalty which left him seventh.

Mercedes technical director James Allison said the team were responsible for the “plain dumb” call, and that they had given Hamilton bad information. But the driver said he wanted to take the opportunity to pit.

“The team did a really, really good job with the strategy,” said Hamilton. “It wasn’t their decision at the end, they offered it as an opportunity for me.”

Mercedes told Hamilton that pitting would lose him one place, to Albon, but he lost a second position to Pierre Gasly as well.

“I didn’t think it would be so bad considering I’d only come out having lost one place and [it would] give me a chance to quickly get past Albon,” said Hamilton. “But it wasn’t the case, obviously.”

Early in the race Hamilton questioned the team’s decision to put him on soft tyres instead of mediums when he made his first pit stop as he tried to jump ahead of race leader Max Verstappen. But after the race Hamilton doubted it would have made much difference to the outcome.

“When I came out of that first stop I thought to myself I should have been on the medium because it generally was a relatively easy overlap. But again, he would have just overtaken me on his out-lap anyway, so I would have still got stuck [behind] the Ferrari.

“And it probably would have been hard to have kept up with [Verstappen] with the pace of the soft. We gave it everything, we threw everything we could at it, and we live to fight another day and I hope we have more great races like that.”

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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...

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15 comments on “Hamilton defends Mercedes’ “dumb” strategy call”

  1. Gracious. A class act.

  2. If they had pitted Hamilton at the same time as Verstappen and fitted new mediums I wonder if that would have made a difference? What did not help Hamilton was Mecs 3.6 second stop compared to RBs 1.9.

    1. THAT was probably the right strategy call. I understand the attraction of the “do the opposite”, but sometimes, you’ve got to run your own race.

      Still, it was one of those split-second decisions that can’t be quantified easily.

    2. Whatever Merc would have decided to fit on Ham would have been the correct decision. Merc strategy caught RB out in the 1st stint, max ran into traffic overtook all traffic to then get undercut. Doing the opposite of Max during sc was dumb, they could have raced in the pitlane they could have gone for different tyres, pitting on the 2nd sc, that looked really dumb but had ham got a jump on the restart and then not hit anyone we might be saying how clever merc was.

    3. How can you defend the indefensible…

  3. The first two pitstops Hamilton made were perfectly timed, he gained a lot compared to Verstappen who pitted one lap later. I can understand that during the SC they chosed to pit the opposite to Verstappen. In the end it didn’t pay off but it certainly wasn’t ‘dumb’.

    1. The difference on the day was that Merc did 3.5s+ and RBR sub 2s. It’s that simple really and the extra stop at the end for Merc was dumb but didn’t really matter in terms of the win.

  4. It is obviously easier to show understanding for your team’s questionable decisions when you already have won the championship. That said, I agree with Hamilton – it simply felt like Verstappen was invincible this weekend and Mercedes just tried their best to stop him.

    1. He was faster, but Lewis was basically just 2 or 2.5 seconds behind him most of the time and with superior tyre wear…well in the first stint anyway. It was way closer than I expected before the race. I think it was the pit calls that made the biggest difference.

  5. I was a bit surprised more teams didn’t go for soft-medium-soft. it felt like the best way to use the best the of the tyres (at least in my mind, without all the data). if you think about it: 1st stint is always going to be a bit shorter because of the heavy fuel load and the fact you’ve already used the tyres in qualifying. 2nd stint is usually the least eventful part of the race and you are more likely to be in clean air, so it’s a good stint to extend therefore, the medium is better. the 3rd stint can then be maximum attack on the fastest tyre, with less degradation concerns due to the lighter fuel load and rubbered in track. this strategy also has the advantage that you can convert to a 1-stop if the medium is very durable.

  6. Realistically Hamilton was only ever going to win the race on better tyre management and no safety cars messing that chance up. Verstappen is pretty good at managing tyres too, though. The other chance was putting Hamilton onto softs too after the first SC, battling past after the restart and somehow holding onto the lead. With Mercedes down on power along the main drag uphill, not likely.

  7. I dissagree slightly here. If Merc had been quicker on the stops, HAM would have had a buffer and not immediately come under pressure and if they were then in front it was VER who would have gotten the ‘opposite’ call.

  8. At first pitstop, Lewis was put on used soft, and kept the brand new ones for last 2 laps .that was really strange .

  9. digitalrurouni
    19th November 2019, 8:27

    Hamilton is being gracious and for good reason because they won all there is to win this year and they’re focused on next year as proven by the absent Toto.

  10. Typical merc (its our fault when lewis doesn’t win blah). Standard response incase of a post race Lewis meltdown. His own comments above saying it was his choice prove it lol. 🤮🥱💩

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