Sport Mercedes explain '50-50' Hamilton call

13:40  13 october  2019
13:40  13 october  2019 Source:   skysports.com

Leclerc extends pole run, Hamilton second

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Mercedes explains Hamilton 's 50 -second stop. 67d Laurence Edmondson. There was a change of driver [from Bottas to Hamilton ] on the tyre call and we also changed the tyre spec from a soft to an intermediate tyre and getting the communication through to the guys when everything is so chaotic is

Mercedes have explained their decision not to pit Lewis Hamilton behind the Chinese GP Safety Car in their most detailed account yet of their strategic

a man wearing a hat © Getty

Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes faced a "50-50 call" when opting to pit Lewis Hamilton from the lead towards the end of the Japanese GP, but stressed that Valtteri Bottas would have won the race regardless of their decision.

Bottas unexpectedly dominated the race despite Ferrari's front-row lockout, but it was Hamilton - who ran third for most of the afternoon - who found himself in front after Bottas followed Sebastian Vettel into the pits for a second time.

Hamilton, after a lengthy first stint, had only pitted once when inheriting the lead on Lap 36, and, on his medium tyres, was putting in similar times to Bottas once he came back out on fresh softs.

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Mercedes have explained why it took so long to turn Lewis Hamilton 's car around during his disastrous pitstop on Lap 29 in Germany. There was a change of driver on the tyre call , we also changed the tyre spec from a soft to an intermediate tyre and getting the communication through to

September 30, 1995 - Albert Belle's 50 th Home Run vs. the Kansas City Royals and arguably one of the best calls in Jacobs Field history.

Hamilton had a lead of eight seconds with just 11 laps remaining, but then Mercedes brought the championship leader in for his second stop and, after coming back out behind Vettel, he failed to overtake the Ferrari and finished third.

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun © Reuters REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Bottas, now Hamilton's only championship rival, has cut his team-mate's commanding championship lead to 64 points after the victory - although Mercedes still secured a sixth straight constructors' crown.

"There were lots of tricky calls this race," Mercedes boss Wolff explained in Suzuka. "I think that pitting Lewis again at the end was a 50-50 call."

Wolff was adamant, however, that Bottas deserved the victory and they would have got Hamilton to swap places with the Finn had he stayed out for a one-stop strategy.

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Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes , 1:31.387. Podium. They made bad calls , the conditions weren't in their favour, the drivers made mistakes. I'm surprised they even have to explain this. You only have one pit stall, so if you're preparing to pit one driver and a freak accident happens where the other comes in

Mercedes have explained why they used team orders so that Lewis Hamilton won the Russian GP ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The contentious switch of position in Sunday's race, which saw Bottas cede the lead to title-leading team-mate Hamilton , was ultimately a "rational" call according to Toto Wolff.

"We could have left him out and asked the drivers to change position to give the victory result back and maybe protected against Sebastian - but on the other side maybe not protected against Sebastian," said Wolff.

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun © Reuters REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

"So pitting and giving him a new set of tyres was the decision that was being taken and at that stage it felt like the right decision."

Expanding on the call and the race, he added: "Obviously Valtteri not blinking an eyelid when Seb stalled [at the start] and getting into the lead was the decisive moment of the race. Lewis in third was a little bit a rock in a hard place.

"Once you're in the lead you need to protect the position, if you're third you can take more risks and more chances. What we did is protect the lead with Valtteri and took the pace out of his race once Sebastian pitted for his second stop, so it was always clear he would go towards Valtteri.

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Explaining why the risk was taken to bring Hamilton in, Wolff says Mercedes was worried Sebastian Vettel would be able to pit and rejoin in third on fresh tyres. With Hamilton getting the final call to pit just 50 metres before he reached the pit entry, Wolff says the team takes responsibility despite a

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"We are not playing team-mates against each other with race strategy."

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji © Reuters REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Hamilton needed 'better guidance'Hamilton questioned Mercedes on team radio early on in the race - when a stop after a long first stint saw him lose ground to Bottas and Vettel - but didn't have a problem with their later calls.

"I wasn't surprised [to pit again]," he said. "The team put me on a two-stop and I knew once they put the medium on that would be the case."

But could he have made it to the end without stopping twice?

"With better guidance I think I probably could have," Hamilton admitted. "They said I was going onto a two-stop because the degradation is high so then just the direction I was given in terms of trying to close the gap to Seb... every time I closed this gap it used the tyres quite a lot.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

"In how I was utilising them there was no way I could have made it to the end on that.

"If I was told from the beginning that I had to eek it out and manage it, I may have potentially held it until the end."

After his first stop, a frustrated Hamilton bemoaned on radio that he was "out of the race now" and urged Mercedes to "explain it to me" - and he clarified those comments after the race.

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(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

"Obviously when you come out and you're twice as far behind as you were before it's frustrating," he stated. "I can't see that and I'm not aware of that and then I come out and see that I've lost another 10 seconds.

"It's just like you could have told me if I was going to come out 10 seconds behind - it was 22 seconds behind Valtteri - and I would have said no I want to come in. There will be some discussions I'm sure."

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