Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2021

We should have pitted earlier or not at all – Hamilton

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes made the wrong call on when to change his tyres during the closing stages of the Turkish Grand Prix.

With the wet Istanbul Park circuit drying slowly throughout the race, drivers ran long opening stints on intermediate tyres. The leaders didn’t begin to pit until around lap 36.

Hamilton, who had climbed from 11th on the grid to fifth in the early stages, rose to third as drivers ahead of him pitted. He turned down an early request from Mercedes to pit as he was happy with the performance from his tyres.

However as the race entered the final laps Mercedes again called Hamilton to pit, and warned him that if he didn’t he would no longer be able to make a pit stop and come out of Pierre Gasly in sixth place.

Hamilton came into the pits and rejoined ahead of Gasly. However his pace was poor as he suffered graining on the intermediate tyres over the final laps.

Asked whether he could have reached the end of the race without pitting, Hamilton said: “Well, Ocon’s did, I heard, so I assume they probably could.”

However he admitted he had doubts over whether his tyres would reach the end of the race when he pitted.

“The tyres are bald so you don’t know how far they’re going to go,” he told Sky. “So there’s definitely the worry of the life of the tyre.

“But also, I wasn’t really that fast at the end there. I was struggling, had low grip. Not really sure why. But then all of a sudden I’d have not such bad pace. But I was losing performance to the guys behind.”

Hamilton believes he would have been better off pitting earlier, when the others did, or not at all.

“Probably in hindsight, I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier. Because when you come in with eight laps to go, you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that [intermediate] tyre on a drying track.

“So then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions. So it’s frustrating, but it is what it is.”

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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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63 comments on “We should have pitted earlier or not at all – Hamilton”

  1. I wish Lewis was a bit more creative in his on-track moves.

    That whole crowding the other driver off the track because of “understeering” is getting a bit stale, mate.

    1. Lol, his move on Tsunoda was fantastic, give credit where it due. He bottled it with the strategy though, he should have come in, he would have finished 4th, 3rd best case scenario, instead went for the riskier one.

    2. Perez could have not gone around the cone. He should have been punished. Opening the steering is a classic and normal race move. There is nothing wrong with it of you are clearly overtaking. Perez somehow seems to get away with everything. Twice Lando has been punished for Incidents with Perez where if anything it was a racing incident… He went off track to keep position. That Is not allowed.

  2. Staying out would have costed him also dearly. Possibly more. The inters took 10 laps to get into the window. Sainz was driving 1.31s while Lewis only managed 1.35s. While the gap to Lec en Perez was around 10s, Lewis would be a toothless lion in the final 5 laps. Possibly losing out even on Gasly and Norris.

    Merc made the right call to pit. Lewis did the wrong job to prevent an earlier pitstop.

    1. What a load of rubbish. Gasly didn’t pit and look where he ended up – he could still lap the same as 3 lap old inters. Lewis would have finished P3.

      1. Gasly did pit. The only one not pitting was Occon. We will never know what would have happened if Hamilton stayed out.

        1. We WILL know, check mclaren f1 website soon, it has laptimes for all drivers all laps all races, so we can see how much he was losing and how much he’d have lost. It’s my feeling a pit stop 7 laps to go doesn’t pay off when losing as little as he was.

      2. Erm, Gasly did pit, and without the farcical 5 second penalty he received, he would almost certainly have beaten Hamilton, although Mercedes may have taken different choices.

  3. I wanna see again his fans saying “true team spirit, ham and Merc win and lose together”

    1. If you read the quote, he doesn’t blame the team – Keith has editorialised what he said. He just says what was clearly obvious in hindsight: that if he’d pitted earlier, he’d have had a better result.

      “Probably in hindsight, I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier. Because when you come in with eight laps to go, you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that [intermediate] tyre on a drying track. So then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions. So it’s frustrating, but it is what it is.”

      Note that nowhere does he blame the team for making the wrong decision, and he very clearly qualifies his comment with ‘in hindsight’.

      1. I agree, this is nowhere near his Monaco remarks

      2. British media is slowly moving the focus from Hamilton to Russel, from next year the whole world will be against Hamilton, so I recon he will quit racing in 2022.

    2. I wanna see again his detractors read what he actually said.

  4. I’m looking forward to Hamilton’s post race career when he opens a whinery.

    1. Why? Verstappen already has the best one in the world.

  5. I don’t really think so. I knew Lewis is great on managing tyre but I’ve seen Ocon tyres. It was scary. No wonder he was so slow.

    1. Yeah, especially given that Hamilton had been pushing quite a bit more, I can understand Mercedes not wanting to risk that @ruliemaulana. I think they should have stopped him at about the time Perez and Gasly pitted.

  6. Sir Lewis doing an impersonation of Captain Obvious.

    1. @jimfromus Or Captain Hindsight.

  7. Poor Lewis. When will he get the luck he deserves?

  8. He’s right.

  9. As Toto said, in Russia Max lost 7 points to Lewis due to his engine change while in Turkey Lewis lost 8 points to Max. No big deal.

    1. While that is true if you only consider the numbers, I feel Merc could have had a fairly easy 1-2 here. So from an opportunity cost point of view RBR didn’t lose any points with Verstappen in Russia but Mercedes did in Turkey. To dismiss this with a ‘it’s just one point’ by Wolff is not doing it justice (but it is Wolff we’re talking about, so…)

      1. The major flaw in your thinking assumes a points position had they not changed engines. But they did change engines and the net loss to Hamilton was 1 point over the two races. Reality remains reality.

        1. No, that is not a flaw, that is actually how ‘opportunity cost’ works :-) It is the points haul that didn’t materialize because they went for decision A instead of B. It seems highly likely considering the pace Mercedes had in hand they would have scored a 1-2. But they chose to take a penalty for Hamilton here so those missed points are the opportunity cost.

          The point you should have raised is: in the end it might still be the best decision to indeed take the penalty here. But nobody can know that. Maybe with hindsight we can point a better venue to take Hamiltons penalty, maybe not.

          1. Opportunity cost is a useful planning device; what we’re discussing here is outcome. For the final time, Lewis mathematically had a 1 point net loss over 2 races. Opportunity cost is nice for ‘what ifs’. If pigs could fly we wouldn’t need drones.

    2. I think without engine Penalty Ham would have 25 and VER would have 15, so net loss today is 18(10+8) equally at Russia Max would still only have been 2 in an equal world. Though i wouldn’t be surprised to later find that through reliability fixes or otherwise the Merc engine has been able to unlock higher modes, which makes this penalty a no brainier for the remaining g races

    3. Russia: If max would not have taken a new engine he would also have lost 8 points in best scenario. So 0 pts lost.

      Turkey: If Lewis would not have taken a new engine, he would have sailed to p1. Max p3. So instead of gaining 10 or 11 points , Lewis lost 8. 19 points lost.

      So not quite the same ….

      1. And Toto knows it. Merc is clumsily not capitalizing on their car advantage since Silverstone.

        Even on Zandvoort Merc threw away the win with failed undercuts (slow pit stop and wrong timing).
        All other circuits was either the driver (Lewis p3 in wet Spa, Lewis messing up sprintrace in Monza) or the Merc team to blame.

    4. But Lewis might need these points much more than Max, looking at the upcoming circuits most of them are not in Mercedes’ advantage.

      1. Every circuit since Silverstone, Merc was the better race car.
        Even Hungary that is supposedly RB domain.
        In Zandvoort Max was lucky to have track position and a sleept Merc team failing a succesful undercut.

        So tell me why Merc is not favorite for the remaining races?

        This championship is Lewis’ to lose.

        1. Merc is still the best car – not by the previous margins but it is ahead. RB/Verstappen wins came from perfect race from them or disastrous one from HAM/Merc. The normal order of business is Merc win even if some minor mistakes.

      2. @spafrancorchamps I think Mexico and Brazil should be Red Bull tracks, but Austin should be a Mercedes track, and Abu Dhabi’s new layout changes favour Mercedes more in my opinion. Saudi Arabia based on the layout should favour the low-rake Mercedes and the Mercedes straight-line advantage more with the long flat-out sections.

      3. @spafrancorchamps I’m not sure how big the RB advantage will be at the remaining circuits.

        Mexico City is said to be a Red Bull track, but much of their advantage there in previous years has been down to the altitude negating the advantage of the Mercedes power unit. The same is true, albeit to a lesser extent, at Interlagos. As the Honda PU seems to be (at least) on a par with the Mercedes this season, you would think the teams will be much closer this year.

        1. I have an opinon
          10th October 2021, 21:57

          Red Bull Racing’s advantage at high altitude tracks like Mexico City was attributable to the Renault engine with its bigger turbochargers. Ferrari with the “funny” engine, and more recently Mercedes, have been fastest there. We really don’t know how this new Honda engine will fare at high altitude.

          1. Renault actually had smaller turbo’s while thin air doesn’t affect the air into the turbo’s, the smallers turbo’s seem to spin faster in thin air. Honda nowadays have similar turbo’s to other teams, however the thin air (25% thinner) suits their car better cause of better mechanical grip. It seems the team run with a set-up similar to Monaco, but get only the downforce they have in Monza… so mechanical grip is very important

  10. I think they made a valid call. Most of the time he had pretty decent pace and I actually thought he could have won at some point.

    It was a tricky call and I’m sure he’s used to blessings, but unfortunately it is not every time Lady Luck smiles. He profited at Russia, not this time.

  11. I wonder if Bono minds being called ‘man’ at either the beginning or end of every single sentence. It’s a peculiar habit of Lewis when a bit annoyed.

    1. @bernasaurus – If Bono minds, I say that’s fair game, as his never ending ‘get in there’ remarks is such a dull radio. 😂

    2. Don’t know much about Bono but it sounds as an accurate description of his species

        1. ‘Bono’ might have one extra syllable, but it’s not much harder to say.

          ‘Get in there @niefer, great comment’. He sounds like an NPC that no matter what happens or the significance of it, just says the same thing every time.

  12. And who decided to stay out when his team was ready two times, with plenty of time going through that graining fase?

    And also Ocon lost more than half a minute to Sainz in de last 15 Laps, so staying out was no option.

    Probably 100 engineers monitoring everything, but the driver with no overview thinks he knows better. That is just stupid subbornness, with no trust in others. And in this close battle, the way to loose it.

    1. Swings and roundabouts – there have been times where he made the opposite call to his team and went on to win. But I agree, the team should always have more information than the driver. On the other hand, the driver is the one sat in the car on track.

      If he’d pitted the same lap as Verstappen, I think he could have finished second. I also think he’d have finished further down if he hadn’t changed tyres.

    2. Probably not start with who stayed out when his team was ready? Because the answer is the same bloke who did it the last time we were in Turkey; and won the race and championship by avoiding entering the wet pits with a slick inter.

    3. How can you say staying out was no option? You proved right the opposite: 2 seconds per lap lost, you say? Hamilton pitted at 7 laps to go, that’s 14 sec, you know how much you lose by pitting, so that’s a loss by pitting rather than going to the end.

  13. It was a real showcase of Hamilton as a racing driver:
    – Driving well in the rain
    – Pushing others off the track
    – Not obeying strategy orders
    – Then crying about it

    1. Ahah, I guess that’s true, I however wouldn’t have boxed AT ALL.

  14. Well… Every driver on the grid is obligate to do at least one pit-stop.

    1. No. You are obligated to use two different dry compounds during a race, which is not possible in a wet race, so the rule does not apply to a race which is declared as Wet.

  15. So he’s saying the team got it wrong?

  16. he should have pitted around the same time as bottas, in the end ocon proved that they had to pit.

  17. I am a Lewis fanboy/girl – but the team did ask him to pit earlier :). Heat of the moment/frustration speaking.

    1. oops – I did what I hate others doing – replied without reading the whole article. He was not blaming the team – he was just stating his viewpoint with the power of hindsight – sorry Lewis :)

  18. So drivers are actually not required to pit at least once?
    I was quite confused seeing Leclerc, Hamilton and Ocon going for a 0 stop

    1. Not required to pit in a race that is wet start to finish

      1. Wrong. Not required to pit in a race declared ‘wet’. It can dry out after 5laps and still is not required to use 2 dry compound.

  19. In this case I feel Hamilton made the call and then they should have sticked with it. Whether it turned out to be wrong or not. While I am critical of Lewis this season, I definitely regard him a high level skilled champion whose prior calls/decisions also delivered victories for his team. Whether it would have ended in also losing 2 places, but then due to lack of pace, that’s the chance taken.

  20. Ohh, forgot to say a thing I found fun: it seemed hamilton wanted to go to the end with old inters, I also felt it was the right choice and since they let him pit and then he had graining, lost touch with leclerc and gasly caught up with him, his engineer told him “we have gasly 1 sec behind you”, and he answered something like “leave me alone!” since it’s only because of the team choice that he ended up in that position, pretty angry!

  21. That Merc has clearly taken a huge step forward, way faster again

  22. I feel like Merc are going to run away with the rest of the season.

    1. By the looks of it, it could be all over I agree. New Pirellis tyre icw some ‘reliability patches’ clearly shows a return to dominance. While I personally find that a pity it is again quite an achievement of the team and Lewis is once again a very very lucky b

  23. I don’t understand why Merc didn’t pit lewis 3 to 4 laps after Perez. When Perez was going through the graining, if I understood the commentators correctly, Ham was faster, opening the gap. So Ham could have done an overcut, coming out ahead of Perez. Ham would have been slower during the graining phase, and Perez likely would have caught up. But by that time, Ham would be done with the graining and could defend, with a very good chance to hold the position.

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