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Sport Hamilton's R-rated blow up sours Mercedes victory

07:35  14 october  2019
07:35  14 october  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton are posing for a picture: Lewis Hamilton (right) was less than impressed after finishing third at the Japanese Grand Prix. © Getty Lewis Hamilton (right) was less than impressed after finishing third at the Japanese Grand Prix. a car parked on the side of a road: Lewis Hamilton finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix. © AP Lewis Hamilton finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix.

It was meant to be a day of celebrations for Mercedes, who wrapped up a record-breaking sixth championship double at the Japanese Grand Prix, but the mood was soured after Lewis Hamilton accused the team of a strategy "f--- up" that cost him any chance of winning the race.

Hamilton finished third behind teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, with the five-time world champion spending much of the race complaining about the team's strategy calls in relation to his tyres.

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Hamilton ran longer on his first stint, losing about 10 seconds as the grip disappeared on his worn tyres. When he eventually stopped on lap 21, he was given medium compound tyres and told to chase Vettel, resulting in the need for a second stop late in the race.

Hamilton clearly felt he should have been given hard tyres at his first stop, or told to conserve the mediums through to the end of the race. Both options would have removed the need for a second stop, and likely resulted in a race victory, given both Bottas and Vettel stopped twice.

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"That was a f--- up," Hamilton said on the team radio.

Asked after the race if he thought he could have made a one-stop strategy work, Hamilton was in no doubt.

"With better guidance I think I probably could have," he said.

"They said, when they put the tyre on, that we are going (to do) a two-stop because the degradation is high.

"So then, the direction I was given in terms of having to try and close the gap to Seb, every time I was having to close this gap, (I) used the tyres quite a lot. In how I was using them, there was no way I was going to make it to the end.

"If I had, from the beginning, said we're just going to eke it out and just see if we could manage it, then I could have just driven differently and, potentially, held it to the end."

The Mercedes driver also vented his frustration at being left out longer than his rivals on his first set of tyres.

"The surprise is that, every time you come out, by going long you end up fricking twice as far behind as you were before, which is twice as frustrating," Hamilton said.

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"I can't see that, so I'm not aware of that, and I come out and I realise that I've just lost another 10 seconds and I'm like: 'You could have told me. If you'd said I was going to come out a further 10 seconds behind – I was pretty much 22 seconds behind Valtteri – I would said no and would have come in earlier'.

"So there'll be some discussion I'm sure when we get back."

Hamilton is still in a commanding position to wrap up his sixth world title. Teammate Bottas is the only driver who can mathematically catch him, although the gap between the pair is 64 points with just four races remaining.

Even in the unlikely event Bottas was to win all four races, Hamilton would still clinch the title if he finished as low as fourth each time.

What's not in dispute is that the team has already claimed a sixth consecutive double, winning both the driver's and constructor's titles.

They're the first team in the history of the sport to achieve the feat, eclipsing Ferrari's five straight doubles from 2000-2004.

The team have dedicated their record-breaking feat to former world champion Niki Lauda, who passed away in May.

Lauda, who was non-executive chairman of the team, joined Mercedes in 2012, and was a pivotal figure in convincing Hamilton to jump ship from McLaren prior to the 2013 season.

"It feels good," team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

"When we embarked in the journey six or seven years ago we wanted to win races more regularly and fight for the championship and, six years later, it's the sixth championship in a row.

"I feel so happy for everyone that was involved. Lots of hard work behind the scenes, lots of painful moments also, but the team was always able to pick themselves up."

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