Lewis Hamilton played a decisive role in the strategy call which likely cost him a higher finishing position in the Turkish Grand Prix.
As Hamilton explained, he expected the track would dry out sufficiently that everyone would need to pit for slicks later in the race. He hoped to keep his intermediates alive until then.
Those who switched to fresh intermediate initially experienced a long period of graining which slowed them down. After that the tyres came good and their lap times began to fall.
But once the likes of Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and others had been through that phase, it soon became clear Hamilton’s decision was not going to pay off.
Hamilton’s complete radio communications from lap 32
|32||Bonnington||So Alonso exiting the pits now. He’s going to be five seconds ahead.|
|32||Hamilton||Are we racing Alonso?|
|32||Hamilton||What tyre is he on?|
|32||Bonnington||Alonso has taken new inter. We’ll keep you updated how that looks.|
Fernando Alonso, a lap down following a pair of incidents at the start, was one of the first drivers to pit for a second set of intermediate tyres. He came out of the pits a short distance ahead of Hamilton.
Once that situation had been explained to Hamilton his radio fell silent for the next few laps while he closed in on Sergio Perez. He tried to pass the Red Bull, but was unsuccessful, and lost around five seconds to the cars ahead.
This meant he had fallen out of Verstappen’s pit window – i.e., far enough behind that his championship rival could pit and come out ahead. Red Bull quickly brought Verstappen in to put him on a new set of intermediates and keep his position ahead of Hamilton on the track.
Hamilton told his team to bring him in before Perez to “undercut” him, but this proved impossible, as the Red Bull driver came in the next time he reached the pit lane entrance. Hamilton was therefore still out on his original intermediates while both Red Bull drivers had taken new rubber.
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|37||Bonnington||So the traffic on exit of pit lane, Verstappen leaving the pits, new inter.|
|37||Bonnington||So Verstappen two seconds ahead.|
|37||Hamilton||How’s he come out ahead?|
|37||Bonnington||Yeah Lewis so we dropped a chunk of time just battling with Perez.|
|37||Hamilton||Make sure we undercut Perez, yeah?|
|37||Bonnington||We do have traffic in our pit window.|
|38||Hamilton||Tyre is okay.|
|38||Bonnington||Copy that Lewis. We’ve got Vettel on medium, he is struggling.|
|38||Hamilton||Yeah, we’re a while away.|
|38||Bonnington||So Vettel car ahead on medium, he is struggling.|
|38||Hamilton||I can’t see my right rear so you check it out.|
|38||Bonnington||Copy, we’ll have a look.|
|39||Bonnington||So Alonso ahead is traffic. Right-rear looks okay from pictures.|
Unsure whether the track would dry out sufficiently for slicks, Mercedes were now in a position where it seemed the only way they could gain a strategic advantage over Red Bull was to stay out.
“The track was drying, we didn’t know when it would dry or if it wouldn’t,” said Hamilton. “We [didn’t] know if it was going to dry or not, but it was slowly getting drier.”
“We could have maybe stopped earlier,” he added, “maybe when I caught Perez maybe we could have could have stopped. But at that point, you just had no idea if it would have been dry or not.”
|40||Bonnington||Blue flags for Alonso. Verstappen the car ahead of him. Verstappen doing a 35.0.|
|40||Hamilton||It’s hard to keep temperature in these ones.|
|40||Bonnington||So Leclerc currently P1, he hasn’t stopped. He’s 15 seconds up the road and going to try and run to the end.|
Race leader Valtteri Bottas also pitted around the same time. This temporarily promoted Charles Leclerc into the lead.
Mercedes called Hamilton in three laps after his team mate, but he was eager to press on in the hope of gaining a strategy advantage by staying out. He remained convinced the track conditions would improve enough for slicks to be an option.
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|41||Bonnington||Leclerc at 34.6. Valtteri 34.0.|
|41||Bonnington||Box, box. Box, box.|
|41||Bonnington||New inter is the way to go. Under threat from Gasly…|
|41||Hamilton||I don’t think it is, man.|
|42||Hamilton||Is it much quicker?|
|42||Bonnington||We have Ricciardo 33.5.|
|42||Bonnington||We also have Gasly coming into our window mid-33s.|
|42||Hamilton||It feels like we should stay out, man.|
|42||Bonnington||Okay, we’ll stay out one more lap. Give us a bit more thinking time.|
|43||Hamilton||Not far off dries.|
|43||Bonnington||Okay copy Lewis we won’t react yet. Just keep in mind Gasly is five seconds outside our pit window.|
|43||Hamilton||We’re just going to lose a lot of time.|
|43||Bonnington||Copy. We’re staying out, staying out. So Perez 15 seconds behind, he’s a 34.8 so no threat at the moment.|
|44||Hamilton||Okay. For sure the grip’s not great, but it’s drying up.|
On lap 46 Bottas passed Leclerc and the Ferrari driver succumbed to the inevitable, pitting for fresh intermediates. That put Hamilton third, but Mercedes were beginning to realise it couldn’t last.
“I was third at one stage and hopeful that I would miss a stop,” Hamilton explained. “[When] everyone else did that inter switch, I was hopeful that if there was another one for slicks that would gain me positions.”
|45||Bonnington||So we’ve got 14 laps remaining.|
|45||Bonnington||Last lap Perez was a 34.9. Gasly 34 [unclear].|
|45||Hamilton||Will these tyres last ’til the end?|
|46||Hamilton||It’s drying up.|
|46||Bonnington||Copy Lewis, yeah we’re just debating if these will last into the dry.|
|46||Bonnington||Leclerc a 35.5, looks like he’s beginning to struggle a little.|
|46||Bonnington||Tsunoda ahead is traffic.|
|46||Bonnington||Perez was a 34.5, Gasly 35.0.|
Perhaps Mercedes were hoping that Esteban Ocon, the only other driver still running on his original set of intermediates, would dive for the pits, fit slicks, and begin reeling off quick lap times. But he stayed out until the end.
Finally Mercedes realised Hamilton’s tyres were dropping off at a rate which threatened to drop him even lower than the fifth place he’d been in before the Red Bull drivers pitted. On lap 50 he was told that crucial threshold had been reached.
“Suddenly we were seeing that those places that we lost by doing the stop, we were going to lose anyway on track, to Perez and to Charles” explained the team’s head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin. “And there was even a risk that was growing from behind if you really sort of dropped off the curve.
“So it was really just a case of cutting our losses and not getting too greedy. Prior to all that, we were running fifth, at the end of it we were running fifth because those two scenarios of ‘it transitions to dry’ or ‘you can get to the end’ didn’t look realistic.”
|48||Bonnington||So Leclerc has pitted, Leclerc has pitted. So now P3, 11 laps remaining.|
|48||Bonnington||So Perez is 13.5 behind, last lap was a 33.7.|
|49||Bonnington||And Lewis if you could update us on the tyres.|
|49||Hamilton||I mean, I’m sliding around but it’s okay so far.|
|50||Bonnington||Okay Lewis we’re just monitoring the gaps, we’ve got Gasly doing 33.6, we’re still three seconds safe to him.|
|50||Bonnington||Okay Lewis so we think we should box this lap, this will be our last chance before we lose the gap to Gasly. We’ve got eight laps to go.|
|50||Hamilton||Are you sure? Okay.|
|50||Bonnington||Okay copy, box box, we have you pit confirm.|
|50||Hamilton||This lap’s pretty good.|
|51||Bonnington||Okay just caution with the white line on exit.|
|51||Bonnington||So Gasly at three behind, three behind, six ahead to Perez.|
Having had Verstappen in his sights at one stage, Hamilton was obviously frustrated at dropping back again. He had been eager to stay out on his original tyres. “It was frustrating at the time because obviously I could see second and then all of a sudden I’m back in fifth,” he admitted.
|51||Hamilton||Shit man, why’d you give up that space?|
|51||Bonnington||It looks like we were going to lose the position anyway. That’s just six seconds ahead to Perez and Leclerc.|
|51||Bonnington||So 34.6. Fastest lap is a 31.9.|
|52||Bonnington||We think this’ll be a good lap for fastest lap so you can take strat five if you need it.|
|53||Hamilton||What position am I in, man?|
|53||Bonnington||Currently P5. Leclerc was a 36.0 last lap.|
|53||Hamilton||We shouldn’t have come in, man.|
|53||Hamilton||Got massive graining, man. I told you.|
|54||Bonnington||Okay copy, Lewis. We were losing time to Perez but we’ll chat about it later. Got Gasly car behind 1.7.|
|54||Bonnington||Gasly at one second.|
|54||Hamilton||Leave it alone, man.|
|58||Bonnington||Okay Lewis so one more lap, it’ll be strat mode five.|
|59||Bonnington||So that’s P5. Sorry about that but we’ll have a chat to you, talk you through the call. Strat mode one please.|
2021 Turkish Grand Prix
- For the sake of the title fight, F1 must get a grip on its track limits problem
- Strong Austin performance shows Ferrari progress – Leclerc
- Pit stop problems costing Ferrari “quite a lot of points” – Sainz
- Sold-out crowd of 380,000 at COTA shows F1 can add third US race – Brawn
- While the pressure’s off I can “push myself” more – Russell
37 comments on “Radio transcript: How Hamilton’s plan to delay his pit stop backfired”
11th October 2021, 8:18
Yes it was a good try wasn’t it. A racy try, that didn’t work out. At the time I thought the team had been too timid bringing him in, but it looks like it was the best thing after all. Between Hamilton and the team, it was a positive play in fact, that could have been epic but just wasn’t on the day.
11th October 2021, 8:28
So hard to decide what to do under those conditions, new tyres being slower than older ones, track not drying out, laps passing by, not being able to “test” your theory in #2 driver cause he leads the race….Impossible situation
11th October 2021, 10:37
What do you mean? they had already pitted Valteri and he was flying.
11th October 2021, 8:34
Track surface and these tyres made this difficult situation. Bono should have told Lewis that he would lose position to Perez and Leclerc, not just Gasly.
11th October 2021, 8:40
Was there ever a grand prix race beforr where a driver didnt have any pitstops? Or is Ocon the first ever?
11th October 2021, 8:54
Many drivers have gone a whole race without changing tyres. In fact in 2005 they all did as the rules banned tyre changes for any reason other than replacing a damaged one.
11th October 2021, 8:57
The entire grid didn’t do any pitstop at Belgium 2021.
Also, Stroll at Monza 2020, Grosjean at Australia 2016 made no racing pitstops but changed tyres under red flags only.
11th October 2021, 13:54
Changing tires during red flag is done in pits. Even if the SC drives trough the pitlane because of hazards on the main straight the boards will count it as a pits visit. So those werent exactly non-pitstop rqces. Belgium is the race that we won’t talk about. Also, there were multiple pits visits during that ehm… demo.
But Salo in 1997 i didnt remember, so ocon isnt a first to do so in the modern f1. Didnt know about that before 1980, thabks for the info. History is an integral pqrt of fun and interest for this sport
11th October 2021, 8:58
Up until the 1980s a pitstop was more often than not considered to repair a broken car.
Even doh Fangio was the first to pit intentionally for fuel in 1957, it wasn’t until 1982 that Brabham made it commonplace.
Just for the FIA to ban the procedure a season later.
Making pitstops is a relatively modern thing to F1.
11th October 2021, 9:59
Mika Salo GP Monaco in 1997 was the last driver not to pit
11th October 2021, 9:24
Salo at Monaco somewhere in the late ’90’s
Jelle van der Meer (@)
11th October 2021, 8:57
“The thing was, a fresh set of inters would eventually be around 2/2.5s per lap faster than an old set. But you needed to bed them in gently for 4-5 laps first (making undercutting a non-starter), like Perez had done after pitting on lap 37. Not like how Leclerc would do as he tried to catch Hamilton and not like an angry Hamilton would do a few laps later as he rejoined to discover that he’d surrendered a place to Leclerc.
If you nailed them on the out-lap on a drying track like Leclerc and Hamilton did, they would instantly grain the right-rear and you’d have a dire lack of rear grip for many laps.”
Above is from “The Race” and is by far is the best write up I have read on why Leclerc and Hamilton should have pitted earlier. This together with Ocon’s account that he doubts he would have made it another lap, he finished 1 lap down. Ocon also lost a lot of time as lap times improved at the end of the race while he was unable to speed up, losing 40-50 seconds by staying out versus 20 seconds for a pitstop and maybe 5-10 seconds for slowly heating his inters.
11th October 2021, 9:28
The crucial decision point was the encounter with Perez.
I know hindsight is 20-20, but I suspected it was going to be very difficult to get past Perez, as Redbull were prepared to throw away his race just to make Hamilton lose time. That was the best time to pit.
11th October 2021, 21:54
He nonetheless impressed me there, remember bottas vs verstappen usually, if you don’t have racecraft you can’t stop verstappen\hamilton, perez is better in this sense, but worse in a lot of ways, than bottas.
12th October 2021, 7:05
RedBull prepared to throw away his race? I saw the opposite and was quite surprised they pitted him while he was holding up Lewis. I couldn’t believe they actually stopped Perez from slowing down Lewis. But the strategists at RB had it right. What I do not understand is why if Perez goes for a stop you would let Lewis out. Well actually they didn’t, he made the call himself. That was probably a bit arrogant indicating he (in his opinion) was not racing Perez. The team should have given him some more insight into the race unfolding or simply stand their ground.
12th October 2021, 8:20
I think RedBull were certain that Lewis will try to undercut Perez in the pits, so they made the move to pit first. That’s why I think they didn’t want to stay out longer.
F1 in Figures (@f1infigures)
11th October 2021, 10:26
It wasn’t really Hamilton’s tires dropping off, rather other drivers going faster as their intermediates finally came to life. Still I’m puzzled why he wanted to go to slicks. Last year the track was even drier and no-one changed to slicks because those worn intermediates very much behaved like slicks and they offered more grip as the compound was softer.
11th October 2021, 11:21
Looks like no one at fault. But it shows that every drivers need a Bono.
11th October 2021, 13:30
What I do not get is the stray 5 setting he could use to set the fastest lap.
It is not allowed to increase the power, only decrease for safety reasons.
He ended on strat one.
So what’s happening here?
11th October 2021, 14:41
He probably qualified on Strat 5 and was running a lower engine mode at the time of the radio message. They are allowed to go lower on the power modes.
11th October 2021, 15:01
Not so sure.
mystic one (@mysticus)
11th October 2021, 19:10
there is no one engine mode @erikje, there are multiple modes available, what changed was once the modes set up, engine tuning options couldnt be changed from quali to race… there is always a lot of engine modes, once set up, they will not able allowed thats all… mercedes had a very aggressive one lap setting for quali and only in quali it would be used, for race they had moderate modes available….
“Typically there are several – up to nine – modes in between the two extremes.” (quali – race).
Mercedes removed the quali settings (settings from available modes) every race weekend. It doesnt mean there isnt multiple modes/settings, it is not allowed to add/remove after quali, kind of parc ferme situation.
David BR (@david-br)
11th October 2021, 14:16
I felt Hamilton should have pitted earlier (effectively before Max). The risk of a tyre failure was always there, so they had to pit, and that means giving enough time to make use of the new inters (allowing for graining). When Mercedes go into conservative (do nothing) mode it always seems worse.
Still it wasn’t a huge points loss to MV in the end.
Euro Brun (@eurobrun)
11th October 2021, 14:43
A tale of 2 races.
Russia: Norris slated for not pitting when the team suggested; Hamilton lauded for listening to his team.
Turkey: Hamilton arguing against teams suggestion to pit.
11th October 2021, 14:59
Big Lewis fan here: it definitely backfired on him. The team has gotten him out of a lot of jams through strategy. He’s just got to trust them more when it comes to the strat. Right after the race he knew he messed up so hopefully it’ll be better in the future
11th October 2021, 16:32
Correct, trust the team for strategy completely, especially a guy like Bono. Driving lights out one can’t make these decisions on the go, so always defer to the team.
Now in other situations the driver knows best and he should make the call – this though went horribly wrong for Vettel on slicks and completely his fault. It didn’t suddenly start pouring in the 30seconds he went into the pits, just a bad decision on the part of the driver.
11th October 2021, 21:57
Indeed, I heard some team radios that he wanted to go on slicks, however putting mediums was silly, at least try softs.
Hans Herrmann (@twentyseven)
11th October 2021, 16:15
The basic rule of thumb that Hamilton’s idol Senna used is that you need to be on the right tyres at the right time. Sounds over simplified but I think that’s what Bonno knew should happen when he asked Hamilton to pit the first time. Better to react to the current conditions than to wait for the conditions to change while losing time. There were two motivations for staying out 1) Doing the opposite to what Max and Valtteri did gave him the chance to win, rather than just securing a lower position 2) This exact strategy worked last year (but in that case the perfect conditions happened at the perfect time for Hamilton allowing him to win.)
Nulla Pax (@nullapax)
11th October 2021, 16:16
I love this style of article. Giving us the chat that we do not get live etc. Thanks.
It is easy to blame Lewis for refusing the early call to pit, but you do not employ a driver of his calibre and then ignore his input during the race.
Lewis is bloody good at tyre management and I would have trusted his call as well.
We have had a couple of interesting races due to wet and slippery conditions.
This is when the real drivers (not simply racers) come to the top in my opinion.
11th October 2021, 21:58
Right because he’s good at tyre management I’d have gone till the end, I’m sure he’d have got p5, maybe p4 as well.
11th October 2021, 22:11
I second this, really interesting perspective on how these decisions are being made.
11th October 2021, 22:13
True.. probably the reason a driver made the right call twice and now is leading the championship.
11th October 2021, 17:55
Well, Lando didn’t want to pit either, and Mercedes pit team won Hamilton the race.
Here who knows, they costed him 1 place? What if rain intensified? 4 places? Hamilton needed those points.
12th October 2021, 7:02
Not really with the current car advantage
13th October 2021, 10:34
You always need points. Mercedes are well capable of messing this championship up.
Green Flag (@greenflag)
11th October 2021, 21:28
With the 20:20 vision of hindsight they should have pitted Hamilton as soon as he got within 1.5 seconds of Perez, and avoided any on-track racing with him. Any of the podium positions would have then been possible.
11th October 2021, 22:14
Races are always won in hindsight…
Comments are closed.