Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015

Hamilton questions Mercedes’ “wrong call” on race strategy

2015 Mexican Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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Lewis Hamilton was unwilling to elaborate on his concerns over Mercedes’ strategy which caused him to describe his second pit stop as a “wrong call” during the Mexican Grand Prix.

Hamilton disputed whether it was necessary for him to make a second pit stop when his race engineer told him his tyres would wear out if he did not make a second pit stop:

From To Message
Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton We are going to convert to Plan B, converting to Plan B. We will be boxing this lap, no flap adjust.
Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington Can I ask why?
Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton So Lewis we’re just worried about wear on these tyres, we’re down to the canvas so we’re going to box this lap.
Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington Bono these tyres are still good.
Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton So this is for safety reasons, Lewis, box this lap. So Lewis you will be boxing next lap .
Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington Bono you need to check his tyres. My tyres feel good.
Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton So Lewis we were down to zero on the first set. For a long run on this set we will be down to zero if not worse, so this is boxing end of this lap instruction.
Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington I think that’s the wrong call. But I’m coming in.
Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton OK we’ll debate that later so boxing end of this lap.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
“No gust of wind”: Hamilton on Rosberg’s race
After making his stop Hamilton continued to press his point, telling Bonnngton: “Please check those tyres and let me know. I want some feedback on them.”

Hamilton finished behind race-winning team mate Nico Rosberg. Asked in the post-race press conference about his second pit stop and whether he thought he could have made it to the end on the set of tyres, Hamilton discussed other topics:

“It doesn’t really matter now but good race, the team did a good job,” he said. “Nico drove really well today: no mistakes, no gust of wind.”

“It was very difficult to follow here but what a crowd we had today, it was just incredible. I gave it my all, it was quite fun actually, just to be able to push and not really have to be worrying about points or anything like that, just go out and just racing. It was one of the fun races for me.”

Sergio Perez was the only driver to complete the race using a one-stop strategy which Hamilton had been urging. He made his first pit stop ten laps before Hamilton did, and therefore used his second set for considerably longer than Hamilton would have done.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4
Nico Rosberg Soft (26) Medium (20) Medium (25)
Lewis Hamilton Soft (28) Medium (20) Medium (23)
Valtteri Bottas Soft (8) Medium (45) Medium (18)
Daniil Kvyat Soft (21) Medium (31) Soft (19)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (24) Medium (28) Soft (19)
Felipe Massa Soft (9) Medium (43) Medium (19)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (9) Medium (43) Medium (19)
Sergio Perez Soft (18) Medium (53)
Max Verstappen Soft (25) Medium (27) Soft (19)
Romain Grosjean Soft (11) Medium (41) Soft (19)
Pastor Maldonado Soft (10) Medium (42) Soft (19)
Marcus Ericsson Soft (10) Medium (29) Medium (12) Soft (20)
Carlos Sainz Jnr Soft (13) Medium (30) Soft (8) Soft (20)
Jenson Button Medium (30) Soft (17) Soft (24)
Alexander Rossi Soft (27) Medium (23) Soft (19)
Will Stevens Soft (26) Medium (24) Soft (19)
Felipe Nasr Soft (12) Medium (32) Medium (7) Soft (6)
Sebastian Vettel Soft (1) Medium (34) Medium (15)
Kimi Raikkonen Medium (21)
Fernando Alonso Medium (1)

2015 Mexican Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22.156 35
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 22.303 0.147 46
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.304 0.148 28
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.328 0.172 48
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 22.391 0.235 26
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 22.422 0.266 24
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 22.488 0.332 52
8 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 22.518 0.362 52
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 22.559 0.403 21
10 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 22.589 0.433 52
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 22.735 0.579 11
12 Felipe Massa Williams 22.849 0.693 9
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 22.956 0.800 10
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 22.957 0.801 8
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 22.985 0.829 25
16 Jenson Button McLaren 23.018 0.862 47
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 23.026 0.870 12
18 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso 23.068 0.912 51
19 Felipe Massa Williams 23.086 0.930 52
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus 23.101 0.945 52
21 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso 23.128 0.972 13
22 Valtteri Bottas Williams 23.160 1.004 53
23 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23.277 1.121 9
24 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 23.292 1.136 51
25 Jenson Button McLaren 23.356 1.200 30
26 Felipe Nasr Sauber 23.417 1.261 44
27 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 23.461 1.305 39
28 Sergio Perez Force India 23.547 1.391 18
29 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso 23.776 1.620 43
30 Felipe Nasr Sauber 23.813 1.657 51
31 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 23.937 1.781 52
32 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 24.136 1.980 52
33 Will Stevens Manor 24.224 2.068 50
34 Will Stevens Manor 25.087 2.931 26
35 Alexander Rossi Manor 25.367 3.211 27
36 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 26.647 4.491 10
37 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28.070 5.914 1
38 Alexander Rossi Manor 30.442 8.286 50

2015 Mexican Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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137 comments on “Hamilton questions Mercedes’ “wrong call” on race strategy”

  1. That was a very strange call. Lewis went to lap 28 on the option tires and had only done about 16 laps before he was called in. And then to say that his previous set was down to the canvas, was also very strange.

  2. A nightmare for mercedes management, let lewis 1 stop and either force nico to 1 stop also (he would have been prone at the end of the race due to being harder on his tires) or 2 stop nico and have him hunt down a slower lewis later in the race (potential conflict, and nico would be questioning why only he had to 2 stop).

    1. I personally find this even more suspicious considering the entire strategy of Hamilton was to be lighter on his tires (referencing the comments after qualy)

      1. Totally agree. I think Merc were much more interested in not looking like they did something that could favor Lewis than they were actual facts. Lewis was preserving his tyres and could easily have gone another 10 laps and then gone to softs if he had to stop.
        Merc were acting very strange there. That felt like another gift to Nico to me.

        1. Totally agree.

      2. oh cmon, after the 1st stops Nico’s tyres had 10% tread left whereas Lewis was down to the canvas. Saying Lewis was going to be better on his tyres doesn’t make it so, its just what his plan was. Turns out Nico was better on his tyres. Please stop, it just sounds desperate.

        1. Multiple journalists who saw the first tyre change called BS on that, they stated that it was not down to the canvas

        2. It’s just a few of us making an assumption based on what has been said without solid facts for the sake of conversation, as are many if not most of the comments on here. However why would Hamilton fans need to be desperate? He’s just become a three time WDC and won ten races this year regardless of circumstance there is definitively no despiration here :)

      3. Another gift to Nico ? You are kidding !?
        Tell us which were the others this year ?

        1. Thomas Haxley
          2nd November 2015, 12:57


        2. RB (@frogmankouki)
          2nd November 2015, 15:48

          I quite remember the Monaco win falling into Nico’s lap. I’d say that was a gift.

    2. I think it was simpler than that.

      The team realised that they had more than a pit stop in hand for both drivers, and the safe option was to swap out the tyres. They would probably have lasted, but why risk it?

      Lewis questioned it, thinking that Nico had been harder on his tyres than he had, and that he could exploit that. The team wouldn’t have it: both drivers were about the same, and they were making a strategy call.

      If Lewis had been allowed to stay out and had won the race, Nico would have been fuming. If Lewis had been allowed to stay out and had run out of rubber, or been enough slower that he lost 2nd, Mercedes would have been damaged.

      It was just a strategy call, but the team had no choice but to insist on once Nico had complied. They told porkies to Lewis as he was likely to just ignore them if they told him the truth.

      1. I understand that Merc decided to play it safe by calling both drivers to pit, but I think it was a mistake to call Nico first.

        After Nico pitted, Lewis had the opportunity to refuse the call and (most likely, unless he hit a very serious degradation cliff in the end) win the race. Call it undeserved, unfair, whatever, but a win is a win. And surely knowing that all hell was going to break loose at Merc after the race if he didn’t, Lewis decided to comply. One more win was maybe not such a big deal with the championship already secured, but I believe that with the championship still undecided Lewis would have chosen to stay out and face the music afterwards.

        If Merc had called Lewis first, the dilemma would have been avoided. Once Lewis had pitted, it was a no-brainer for Nico to pit also, he would still came on top. And if for any reason Lewis refused to pit, then Nico wouldn’t either (but how much of a risk would it be for both Mercs in the endrace is hard to say).

    3. During the race, sure you can question the strategy of the Mercedes team concerning the tires. But when they made the call, I thought they were just trying to cover themselves in case of a safety car that could have caught their drivers out at the wrong time, and cost them the top two positions. Their cars had the margin to stop and get on fresh tires, and still retain the lead, so I thought they brought them in to cover that potential scenario where a safety car may have not allowed them to get to the pits in time to remain in front. Why risk that? So they made the call. Now I could be completely wrong, but imagine if that scenario had occurred…people would be wondering why they had not come in. If they stayed out on old rubber and got trounced by cars on fresher rubber after the safety car period, people would question that as well.

    4. @emu55

      let lewis 1 stop and either force nico to 1 stop also

      ROS had already stopped by then so we were realy looking at a Multi-21 type of incident.

  3. Hopefully people see the funny side of no gusts of wind comment, seriously I am starting to love the little snide comments from Vettel and Hamilton

    1. Vettel is funny, Hamilton is arrogant

      1. And you think Vettel is not arrogant as well? They’re all F1 drivers, it would be worrying if they weren’t arrogant and cocky.

      2. Ian Laidler (@)
        2nd November 2015, 10:43

        Sorry Patrick, I think that is BS, maybe you are confusing a cocky self belief as arrogance.

        I don’t always agree with some of the stuff Lewis comes out with but I would not call him arrogant, but then that is me.

        1. Yep @grumpy, a lot of people don’t really know what arrogance is. Lack of arrogance is one of Hamilton’s biggest problems. Arrogant people aren’t as sensitive to criticism, they just face everyone down.

          He can lack the deference some people think he ought to show, is the main thing – it’s the overt competitiveness. It’s an interaction. Like the comment below that he’s a millionaire, as though Nico isn’t.

          Though I didn’t really like the ‘gust of wind’ comment, I must admit. It was a weak moment, for me.

      3. Always have to throw in something negative about Lewis, don’t we.

      4. @paeschli, Usually I find Vettel’s humor a bit juvenile, but I have to agree he was indeed hilarious this weekend. First making fun of how the Merc guys would be taking each other out in the first corner and then he basically takes himself out. Classic.

      5. Hamilton, unlike Vettel, wasn’t sliding around the track making a mess of it like a child in over his head……..

      6. Really???? Vettel is arrogance personified. As evidenced by his foul mouth tirades when things do not go his way.

    2. I agree, and very much disliked his throwing the cap at Nico in Texas, was not needed, he was WC, should have shown a bit more dignity.
      I think he was pretty upset about not being able to win in Mexico, at the looks of his face after the race.
      Spoiled millionaire brat !

      1. I have come to the conclusion that you simply dont like Hamilton?

        1. No, not true, I think he’s one of the greatest, there’s no doubt, just should be a bit more careful about his acting.
          He has the eyes of the tiger, something that N. Rosberg didn’t have this year, simple !

    3. @bezza695 I did think it was funny and it always adds spice to the contest when the drivers start trying to get in each others’ heads.

      But at the same time when someone asks you a question and you talk about seventeen different subjects instead, it makes it rather obvious you’ve got something to hide. Maybe Hamilton didn’t want to admit that the way things turned out with the Safety Car made it clear the strategy he disagreed with was the right way to go.

      1. Nor did he want to admit that on that day and that weekend Nico had the upper hand and on equal tires and strategy LH couldn’t do anything about him. All Nico has to do is have a better day, to get into LH’s head. Oh, and the team to not do everything his way. A gust of wind is a real thing and has been considered on many many occasions at many many tracks (not saying we don’t all already know that), and so is the fact that on some days/weekends NR is just better. Or maybe LH, we’ll find out, was just ‘ill’ like he claims he was in 2011, from too much celebration of all he has that he is so so grateful for, that he also credits the team for, until he doesn’t get his way.

        1. If a gust of wind is a real thing then why get so defensive? All Lewis said was there were no gusts of wind yesterday. Unless of course, you know deep down the wind excuse is glaringly open to ridicule.

          1. Why get so defensive? Because LH was saying it as a jab, not a fact like you are trying to portray, and because everyone is acting like they’ve never heard of that and it is some lame excuse. In fact NR couldn’t figure out why he made that mistake and when the analysis showed it was wind, that at least made some sense, if to nobody else then to NR.

      2. We have the transcript from Hamilton’s radio conversations but NOT Rosberg’s. Until we see that, its reasonable to suggest that maybe Merc are hiding something. Why not let both drivers choose if and when to stop, having warned both of the alleged tyre situation, which curiously we have zero hard data on too. Given relative speeds and on track gaps, there no down side to letting Lewis choose. Maybe Rosberg had no choice. Maybe Rosberg had killed his tyres, while maybe Hamilton had preserved his for a final attack. Why not advise Lewis and Rosberg and let them choose? Merc had nothing to lose except Rosberg’s head. Merc would have lost nothing by leaving the choice to the drivers. Unless one driver had a problem, and one didn’t.

        Given Rosberg’s previous stroppy behavior, maybe Merc were managing him and Hamilton, since Hamilton had already won the WDC and Merc had won the WCC.

        If this was above board, we’d have both driver’s radio transcripts and the tyre data. We dont, so very obviously people are calling foul. Merc could have avoided this by allowing the drivers to choose.

      3. That is assuming that Lewis wouldn’t benefit from the safety car. If he stayed out and a safety car was called he could pit under safety car and get a free pit-stop. It could have been very likely that he could pit and come out in frond with a safety car.
        Also even if he came behind Nico he would have fresher tyres.

        So i really do not see how you assume that it shows that the Merc call proved right with the safety car.

  4. I think Hamilton was right to question Mercedes’ second pit stop: if Perez could make those tyres last 53 laps, then Mercedes surely could have made them last 45 laps? But then again, Mercedes didn’t want to take the risk, they had a free pit stop for both cars. So they decided to call both cars in for a pit stop, Rosberg first to preserve the Rosberg 1 Hamilton 2 order.

    Had Hamilton ignored his team’s orders, I think he could have won the race – if the safety car hadn’t interfered. And that’s the point, I’m 100% sure Mercedes would have called him in again during the safety car phase, so Rosberg would have retaken the lead anyway.

    1. Actually Hamilton would more than likely have stayed in front during the safety car due to less effect on time in the pits.

    2. @andae23, but Lewis, had he stayed out till the safety car, could have put options on and attacked Nico with a huge tyre advantage had Nico stayed out, or he could have lead Nico on options had they both come in. It’s all such a total guessing game and I’m sick and tired (no pun intended) of it.

    3. @andae23 I think he has really big chance to win with or without safety car. After SC there no really change of positions and even Perez with old tires only under pressure from Sainz for a few laps. We also don’t see any performance drop from Mercedes even in old soft tires so actually it could be a good fight between Rosberg and Hamilton in front especially when Rosberg is quicker in this track all weekend.

      The Mercedes call is indeed really weird and Hamilton (actually all driver in his position) should rightly demand for explanation. The safety issue is a terrible excuse and if it was true they could easily show the non confidential data to the public.

      1. I doubt that either driver needed a change of tyres. Both could have lasted until the end. The team decided that the safest thing to do, having a pit stop in hand, was to change them.

        They couldn’t do this for just one car, as it would end up looking like favouritism.

        Hamilton was right to ask, though, and the team should have explained that. Knowing Lewis, though, he could have just ignored the order to pit and won the race, which would have left a lot of bad feeling in the team. A little white lie saved that, and I’m sure Lewis will understand when it’s explained to him.

        1. Lewis didn’t knew on whether Nico pitted because he destroyed his tyres or not so he was right to be suspicious.
          Probably the team just wanted to play safe but still we do no know if Nico was fine with his tyres or not.
          There is a chance he had a problem and the team just covered his ass as to avoid fireworks.

  5. I think Mercedes called both in to maintain the order. Lewis should’ve stayed out, he could have won the race since the tires had good degradation and overtaking was very difficult.

    1. But the Safety Car would have put Rosberg and his much fresher tyres right on Hamilton’s tail

      1. Still, the good deg experimented, and inability to follow/overtake in today’s race would likely give advantage to track position.

      2. Hamilton could of pitted as time lost in the pits is less under safety car. It would of been down to who was nearest to pit entry when the safety car came out but if ham was near he could of come out ahead of rosberg or behind still but with tires several more laps younger.

    2. Hamilton would have lost the race had he stayed out, I believe. Rosberg would have gotten past him after the safety car.
      But this is typical Lewis. Whenever a situation arises where he can get a benefit from not accepting a team order after his team mate accepts, he just does it and people say it’s his fighting spirit.
      This would be akin to punching a boxer after the round is over.

      1. Rosberg would have gotten past him after the safety car.

        You know this how? Rosberg doesn’t find it exactly easy passing Hamilton.

        1. and hamilton could have changed to options under safety car.

      2. This is not because of what Lewis said. I was screaming “NO!” at the TV when they told Lewis to come in and I was VERY unhappy when they put him back on the prime tyres. He was easily keeping the softs alive and would have had a speed advantage.

        1. Seriously? His softs from 1st stint were more worn than Nicos. If they didn’t pit Nico would have been in an even stronger position relative to Hamilton, but the team didn’t want either of their cars bursting a tyre whilst they didn’t need to take that chance so they decided to pit them both, so they could both race fairly to the flag without worrying about their tyres. Nico accepted this and pit immediately, Hamilton was his usual petulant self and wanted to gain some advantage over Nico rather than just continuing to race him fairly and trying to pass him on track in an equal stare of car/tyre. Seriously can’t believe how some LH fans can twist the facts. Same people whom will make excuses about Lewis not being able to pass because of turbulent air etc will call these excuses if mentioned by Nico. Nice Logic there :-)

          1. Where did you get that from that his tyres were more worn than Nico’s? Also are you forgetting that he did 28 laps on tires that had also done qualifying, so he would’ve been able to easily make them last to the end.

          2. @KGN Nico’s Engineer told him he had 10% left of his 1st set of tyres and Lewis engineer told him that Lewis’ were completely worn and also separately that his tyre wear was worse than Nico’s. So yeah, I got that from the Mercedes F1 engineers that work on the cars. Now tell me how they are wrong/lying and its all a big conspiracy etc etc and i’ll go grab a bag of popcorn :-).

          3. Also @KGN, if he could make it to the end so could Nico, (both with some risk that merc was trying to avoid by pitting again as they had the gap to 3rd to do so) so what’s your point? Again all I see is team Merc made a safety call and treated both its drivers fairly, and Hamilton got all upset about how he couldn’t use it to his advantage because he was being beaten fair and square on track by someone in the exact same car on the exact same tyres as him. Don’t you see, there HAS to be an excuse with Hamilton and his fans when he is beaten, however irrational, & this is it for this race.

      3. You really dislike him don’t you colonel?

        Did you see Monaco….? Anyone would question strategy after that mess.

        Fact is the weird strategy ‘team’ mentality (and the need to stop NR imploding) robbed us of at least some kind of battle at the front – in short the fans of F1 lost out.

        It might or might not have worked but a typical 014 Bahrain battle was missed because of it and for that, much as I am sure Mercedes were happy, F1 fans should and are entitled to be annoyed. Not for your continued carping of LH though.

        LH had every right to question the request to pit. Monaco clearly shows that and, if all has to be equal then it is odd they did not demand NR to pit that day as a consequence of what they had done… But then NR would have lost out huge and been around 5th. Not good for the team. So they did not. Result. Nico gifted a win. For all your dislike, can you show just one time in his career anywhere, LH has been gifted a win? No you can’t. All you can show is wins being removed such as Spa 08 (just the most ridiculous decision ever – particularly for those of us that actually do go out and race)

        Reality is – they were happy with a 1-2, knew from Bahrain LH could and would make a fight of it regardless of compound and tyre wear and thus decided what was best for the team at this time. Nico happy. LH a little miffed, team gets another 1-2. More exposure.

        Fans? Well nothing really as it was frankly one of the worst races this year but, it’s still a chance for those hurting badly to comment on Hamilton and his ‘terrible attitude’ ‘earrings, hair, tattoos, jet, – frankly you name it just as long as no one sees the bigger picture of Merc stealing away an interesting battle.

        1. Sigh. For the 50th time, Monaco was Hamiltons call, the team told him to stay out and he overrode them. What a ‘team’ player, to then basically infer it was their fault to all your fans etc hey & not man up to your own mistake, not to mention again questioning good team advice from the pitwall.

          1. He didn’t overrode them. He asked a question. They decided it was fine to bring him in after they got their facts wrong.

  6. I think this was a situation much like Malaysia 2013. Hamilton was asked to lower his pace to fuel save and Rosberg was told to do the same.

    I think the team just saw that they had so much time in hand that they could get a free stop which would protect them against a potential safety car giving those behind one and decided to impose it on both drivers. They could both probably have gotten to the end on their set but seeing as the safety car came out and Red Bull and Williams took the chance to get a tyre change it was absolutely the right call.

    Mercedes got theirs out of the way before the safety car became and issue. Even if they hadn’t changed when they did they would have done once the safety car came out which would have meant double stacking them.

    1. + a million

      Both drivers had the tyres to go to the end, but the team imposed a ‘free’ pit-stop on both drivers.

      Rosberg could have one stopped easily and win the race on a one-stop. No mater which strategy you choose, Mercedes imposed the same strategy to both drivers so Nicole would always win.

  7. This is no surprise. As there is only one strategist for both drivers they don’t care who finishes first and who;s second so long as they get the top two steps on the podium. From a driver’s perspective that must really suck given that if you are behind your team-mate you won’t have someone working on getting you ahead of them. As Lewis appears to question the strategy more than Nico, he should push for separate race engineers/strategists for the coming years.

    1. As Lewis appears to question the strategy more than Nico, he should push for separate race engineers/strategists for the coming years.

      @velocityboy: Lewis seems to be pushing that agenda ever since the goof up in Monaco 2014, citing his McLaren days

  8. I think it was correct for the team to take the extra pit stop for both cars to be extra safe since they had the time in hand. But they could have explained it better to Hamilton. They could have just said – we have a large gap to third place so we are taking a precautionary pit stop for both cars. I think that would have been better understood and avoided any heated discussion or potential disobedience.

    Having said that, it would be very interesting to see if a driver had obeyed the instruction if the championship was still undecided. If not for the safety car, I think not pitting would have left Hamilton in the best position to win the race so there was definite potential for a huge fallout post race.

  9. Lewis not pitting would have been a nice way of