Mercedes executive director for technical Paddy Lowe explained why the team initially resisted Lewis Hamilton’s request for a different strategy during the race.
Hamilton urged his team to switch his strategy as he found himself unable to get close enough to race-leading team mate Nico Rosberg to pass.
“Can you get me on a different strategy somehow?” he asked, adding it was “impossible to overtake”. His race engineer Peter Bonnington told him “converting to Plan B would be a bad idea – that would drop us behind both Ferraris, they’re still doing 16.6s” [see chart below].
Mercedes began the race intending to pit both their cars twice. However Sebastian Vettel was only seven seconds behind Hamilton at this point, and when he made an early second pit stop on lap 33 and switched to the softer tyre, it signalled he was on a three-stopper. This was what led Mercedes to abandon ‘Plan A’.
“We originally planned to do a two-stop strategy but eventually converted to a three-stop strategy to shadow Sebastian in third place,” explained Lowe afterwards, “even though the three-stopper was about 10 seconds slower overall.”
“With the relatively slender margin we had to the Ferrari, it was much safer to mimic his stops. There was a point in the second stint when Lewis asked if anything could be done about a different strategy, but the only alternative at that point was the slower three-stopper, with others looking like they were two-stopping, and we didn’t want to risk handing second place to Ferrari.”
Vettel’s strategy meant his pace at the end of the race was comparable to Mercedes. However it also ensured a frustrating race for Hamilton.
“Our policy is to let our drivers race and also to allow them to explore viable alternative strategies as we have shown in the past,” added Lowe, “but we don’t let them pursue a bad alternative strategy at any cost.”
The bad news for Hamilton was it wasn’t just him who was switched to a three-stopper, but Rosberg as well. He therefore remained snookered behind his team mate until the chequered flag.
2015 Brazilian Grand Prix lap times
All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded):
2015 Brazilian Grand Prix fastest laps
Each driver’s fastest lap:
|Rank||Driver||Car||Fastest lap||Gap||On lap|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’15.970||1.138||53|
|9||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’15.972||1.140||56|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’16.313||1.481||56|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1’16.500||1.668||41|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’16.774||1.942||66|
2015 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Verstappen takes third Driver of the Weekend win
- The 2015 turn-off goes on in Brazil
- Ericsson contact was a racing incident – Maldonado
- Williams drops Massa appeal on cost grounds
- Was Brazil more proof F1’s overtaking gimmicks aren’t working any more?
14 comments on “Mercedes explains why it wouldn’t change Hamilton’s strategy”
15th November 2015, 22:47
You’d think that having already wrapped up the big prizes for the season, “to risk handing 2nd place to Ferrari” wouldn’t be that big a deal, and might have been worth it simply to spice things up a bit. And to give Lewis something to do.
16th November 2015, 2:59
I think you’re right, and it would have been fun to watch — Hamilton would have had a meltdown. Imagine him finding himself in P3 “hey man, this was the wrong strategy!”. Bono, “you wanted it”. Look at how quickly Hamilton’s tires went off at the end of stints on a 3-stopper? He may not even have showed up for the podium ceremony, like he didn’t come out for the photo after qualifying.
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
15th November 2015, 22:59
Their strategy was 10 seconds faster, but it’d have left them vulnerable in the event of a SC. BUT, considering Mercedes pace, and the fact that a) “it’s impossible to overtake here” and b) the championship is already done and dusted, I don’t know why they worry so much…
Let them race, man… Bahrain 2014 feels so far behind!
16th November 2015, 6:35
Mercedes to let it’s drivers race.. But only on the same strategy.
Isn’t it better this way? If an overtake between Mercedes drivers occurs on track, we know it is a pure one. Not one because of strategy. Also, Mercedes won’t be faulted for giving less optimal strategy to one driver.
Duc Pham (@ducpham2708)
16th November 2015, 4:35
Of course we all now Vettel wasn’t the real reason.
The problem of Mercedes is that they only have one strategy team for both drivers who are both contenders for the win/championship, so in any event of a split strategy, except unexpected circumstances (tyre blow, car damage,…), the Merc drivers will start accusing the team of favoring the other.
I think they should have separate strategists for the two drivers, yes I imagine it’ll cost a tiny bit more, but then the drivers can battle on the strategy field as well.
Rosberg showed yesterday what he is capable of. In case Ferrari can’t bring the fight to Mercedes next year, we may still have something interesting to watch. I do hope for a 3-way battle though, then it’ll be epic.
16th November 2015, 10:25
So you know better than the guys at the track with timing and GPS data for all 20 cars?
16th November 2015, 17:06
So 1 strategist is fine until Hamilton can’t match Rosberg’s pace? Sounds a bit like Hamilton wanting #1 treatment like the man he has suggested as having tainted stats in the record books for his #1 status.
16th November 2015, 7:15
If Lewis wins it’s his race craft, if he loses it’s the team. Once he can’t overtake Nico boy oh boy. He docent seem to accept there are some tracks which are almost impossible to overtake as we know by know, tyres get shot when they’re following close. Nico has out qualified him quite a bit, like 5 races in a row? A 3 time champion yet so fragile, that is why Kimi is the man, one who admit his mistakes and doesn’t need to make excuses and most of all does not blame his team when something goes wrong. Lewis is the Justin Beiber in F1, LOL!!!
16th November 2015, 7:17
If Lewis wins it’s his race craft, if he loses it’s the team. Once he can’t overtake Nico boy oh boy. He docent seem to accept there are some tracks which are almost impossible to overtake as we know by now, tyres get shot when they’re following close. Nico has out qualified him quite a bit, like 5 races in a row? A 3 time champion yet so fragile, that is why Kimi is the man, one who admit his mistakes and doesn’t need to make excuses and most of all does not blame his team when something goes wrong. Lewis is the Justin Beiber in F1, LOL!!!
16th November 2015, 9:19
Hamilton doesn’t seem to have a particularly good grasp of strategy at the moment. He’s not thinking clearly. Rosberg was already on an optimal strategy to win the race. Hamilton’s argument was that he should be on a contrary strategy to try and gain over him. The only way to do that on a track where you can’t overtake is to take fewer stops than the person ahead and rely on gaining track position, knowing that the person behind isn’t going to be able to overtake you. But at the time Hamilton was demanding a different strategy, he’d already taken the early first stop to cover off Vettel. There’s no way at all that he’d have been able to stretch out that second set of tyres to last the rest of the race – yes overtaking is hard, but only up to a point. Even on a 3 stop he ended up falling back badly at the end of the final stint, and even on a hard track for overtaking, if you’re that much slower than the person behind, it’s impossible to hold off the attack. The only other alternative to doing fewer stops would be to do more stops. A four stop would be pretty ridiculous; he’d have lost a chunk of places and probably found himself behind the Ferrari and unable to overtake.
What I’m getting at, is that there wasn’t anything within the strategic options which would have allowed Hamilton to get past Rosberg. The only other possibility would have been to pit Hamilton before Rosberg, leaving Rosberg out while Hamilton gets the undercut. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the team to do that.
16th November 2015, 14:46
Oh I think LH is thinking clearly, and selfishly, and many people admire that as the way a WDC should think.
I think in Mexico he genuinely thought a different strategy would have made a difference for him, whereas I speculate that yesterday he was really just asking his side if there wasn’t ‘something’ that could be done differently, but I don’t think even he had a better idea this time. I think he just needs to make it known that he only loses to Nico when he can’t have his way, but for me the other side of that coin is he lately can only beat Nico if they advantage him over Nico.
So I get the win-at-all-costs attitude of a Champion, but I prefer a more humble driver and one more respecting toward his team, when he has sown it all up for the season thanks to the team, and he knows without any words even need being said, that the team would want Nico to finish second in the standings over SV…that’s a no-brainer. So I find it petty and disingenuine for him to claim Nico only won because…but then…I know he’s not stupid…just egotistical…no surprise…he’s likely mostly just trying to get in Nico’s head for next year. Didn’t work between Mexico and Brazil, so come on Nico…gloves off next year.
Mr win or lose
16th November 2015, 11:10
So Vettel’s switch to a 3-stopper presented Mercedes a good opportunity to split strategies. Hamilton, who was slower towards the end of the stints would have been the obvious candidate to give the “slower” 3-stop strategy a try, while Rosberg would have been on the original 2-stopper. It could have been a much more interesting race, even if Hamilton would eventually finish 10 seconds further behind Rosberg.
17th November 2015, 1:51
If Hamilton eventually finish 10s further than he was, he would have finished behind Vettel. Personally I want to see that and hear Hamilton’s comment after that. It would be fun :)
Ed Marques (@edmarques)
16th November 2015, 21:18
I was at the track. Mercedes is clearly faster than Ferrari. The way Lewis passed Raikkonen it seemed like it was passing a Marussia, but of course the tyre difference was huge at the time. Even so, i don’t see any trouble for Lewis passing Vettel if was nedeed. Ferrari was only threatening when the cars were havier and on softs.
Hamilton had two good chances of passing, on one of them he couldn’t follow Rosberg at the entrance of the back straight and lost momentum, on the other he was really close but a Lotus got in his way. I believe it was Grojean.
A few other things. The sound is waaaay better at the track, which shows another point where TV coverage has been bad this year. The cars are really beautiful live, especially the Mercedes. Vettel really impressed on his first stint, keeping up with the Mercedes while others fell behind. I think it’s quite funny people making too much of this Rosberg “resurgence”.The championship is over, a long time, he was destroyed when it mattered, winning when the pressure is off don’t count for nothing, especially when he is saying that he didn’t changed anything. If that’s true it’s not him that got better is the other one that got worse.
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