Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes had to take a risk with either strategic call after pitting from third place late in the Turkish Grand Prix and going on to finish fifth.
Leading the championship by two points ahead of the race, Hamilton took a 10-place grid penalty and started from 11th on a wet track. After making good progress to run fifth, Hamilton then opted against pitting when the top four did, leaving him third behind Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen. After seeing Charles Leclerc’s pace drop off before his own stop, Mercedes told Hamilton to pit with eight laps remaining and he dropped to fifth, questioning the call as graining forced him to defend from Pierre Gasly in the closing stages.
📻 "We shouldn't have come in man"
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 10, 2021
“The fact is the track was drying and we didn’t know if it was going to dry or not, but it was slowly getting drier,” Hamilton said. “I was third at one stage and hopeful I would miss a stop — everyone else did that inter switch and I was hopeful if there was another one to slicks that would keep me in third, so gain me positions.
“They were the two scenarios for me. We maybe could have stopped earlier when I caught (Sergio) Perez, but at that point we had no idea if it would have been dry or not, so I don’t feel a particular way about it. It was frustrating at the time because obviously I could see second and all of a sudden I’m back in fifth.
“It just feels that in that moment I only have a certain amount of information and the team have other information, they see everyone else. For me it’s hard to want to give something up when you don’t fully know the whole picture. That’s why you have to rely on your team and accept the choices they make and hope it’s the right one.
“I always say we win and lose as a team. I listened to the team today. Could we have stayed out? Who knows. If you look at a couple of others that did they dropped off massively and lost positions, so it was a risk either way.”
While Mercedes predicted third was on the cards if it perfected the timing of its pit stop earlier in the race, Hamilton says the bigger picture suggests he and Verstappen lost similar points to each other when taking power unit penalties.
“Time will tell. Again, if I’d stayed out you don’t know if I would have held position — I’m a risk taker so I would have wanted to take that risk, but we started 11th today, got a new engine, so we got points. It’s not as big a loss, if you look at the last race, he lost seven points I think; today I lost eight — it’s similar. I’ve just got to work hard to try not to drop any more points moving forwards.”