Lewis Hamilton explained why he decided not to make an extra pit stop during the Safety Car period in the Miami Grand Prix.
Parts of Hamilton’s radio conversation with his team were played during yesterday’s race broadcast which showed the world champion discussing whether to use the opportunity to change his tyres. He decided not to.
Hamilton had already made his one required tyre change before the Safety Car came out. His team mate George Russell used the interruption to make his tyre change and passed Hamilton following the restart.
Hamilton had the option to make an extra pit stop which would have dropped him behind Russell but also left him on fresher tyres. However the team’s strategist James Vowles advised him on the radio that he should stay out.
“When you’re out there, you don’t have all the information,” Hamilton said after the race. “You don’t know where everyone is and where you’ll come out. You don’t have the picture that they have on the screen.
“So when you’re given the responsibility to make the decision, it feels like you’re gambling and I don’t like that. So I was like, ‘you guys make the decision’. But either way, we were just a bit unfortunate with the Safety Car today.”
The Mercedes drivers started the race on different tyre compound. Hamilton ran the medium, Russell opted for hard.
After the race Hamilton suspected he would have been better off starting on the other compound. “George obviously did a great job in that first stint,” he said. “He was on the better tyre to start with, the hard tyre was the best tyre.
“So in hindsight, maybe we could have started on the hard tyre. But again, he did a great job to recover from his position and get the points. So we got fifth and sixth today, it’s good points for the team.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton was left “between a rock and a hard place” when the Safety Car came out. “The Safety Car clearly came out at a situation that wasn’t favourable for him and [was] favourable for George.
“George had a window, no one behind him, he was able to switch on a practically new medium [tyre]. And Lewis had to decide ‘do I keep the position on the hard, or do I go on a soft?’, which would have been also tricky.
“So that was probably a 50-50 decision and at the end it didn’t work out for him. But it’s not the first time that he’s been unlucky this season with the Safety Car.”
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When the Safety Car came out Hamilton had done less than half as many laps on his set of hard tyres than Russell ahead of him:Bonnington So have incident exit turn Bonnington So VSC, VSC. Bonnington So keep delta positive. Keep on that delta. Go strat mode one. Bonnington Incident exit turn nine. So staying out, staying out. Incident turn eight, between turn eight and turn nine. Bonnington Stay tight on the delta, tight on the delta Bonnington Make sure you stay on top of the PU cooling. Bonnington So there’s debris all over exit turn eight so just pick your way through. Bonnington So car is stopped on the left-hand side but debris everywhere. Hamilton Tyres at risk? Bonnington So Safety Car, Safety Car. Bonnington So just let us know what you think about these tyres. We’ve got 16 laps remaining. Bonnington So George has pitted, he’s 12 seconds behind, he’s on a set of new hard. We would box and end up behind George. George was still posting green lap times on that hard tyre after 40 laps. Hamilton How many have I done? Bonnington 19, so you’re halfway though. He was still posting good times on hard. Hamilton And that’s the only… Bonnington I think once you wear the gauge down on them they look pretty look. Hamilton Is he behind me then on new?
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After Russell pitted, Mercedes advised Hamilton that he would be better off staying out:Vowles Lewis it’s James, we advise staying out, but we’ll leave it to your decision, we have to make it now. Bonnington He’s on medium. Hamilton I’m going to be at a disadvantage, aren’t I? Bonnington You’ve got Perez on exit. So delta. Hamilton So who is directly behind me? Bonnington It’s going to be George and then Ocon. Hamilton How much faster is that tyre? Bonnington We think probably three, four tenths but this tyre seems to work better when it’s got a bit of gauge of it. We have one more chance to pit if you think you want to do it. Bonnington So Perez… Hamilton You tell me man, don’t leave it to me. Do you think I can… I don’t want to lose a position. Bonnington Okay, recommend staying out. Hamilton I will lose the position to George [unclear] Hamilton Is there damage on the back of my car? Bonnington We don’t think so. Hamilton There’s an AlphaTauri behind me? Bonnington Affirm, a lap down, car is backmarker. Bonnington Go HPP3 position four. You have a little bit more margin on the brakes if you want to wake that front up. Bonnington So marshals still clearing debris at the incident. Do what you can just to keep the PU cool. Bonnington Those brakes look better now. Bonnington So lapped cars may now overtake, it’s just Tsunoda car behind. Bonnington Just remember 10 car lengths. Bonnington So Safety Car is going to be in this lap.
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