Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2018

Hamilton felt Bottas’s strategy was “too optimistic”

2018 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he felt that Mercedes were pushing team mate Valtteri Bottas’s tyres too far during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver took his fifth victory of the season while Bottas was caught and passed by the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen with fading tyres late in the race.

Hamilton believes that Mercedes’s strategy of not pitting Bottas for a second time was asking too much from his soft compound tyres.

“I definitely don’t think the team expected me to be able to eke out my first stint to lap 30 or whatever it was,” explained Hamilton.

“I think they were a little bit too optimistic, I would say, on the other side to make those tyres go that far. Even for me towards the end of my stint my tyres were on the way out. I probably could have done another 10 laps or 15 laps on them before they were completely dead. Their pace was obviously good but fortunately I’d done enough by then.”

Having pitted relatively early to cover Kimi Raikkonen, Bottas’s soft tyres were over 40 laps old by the time he was caught by the two Ferraris sporting much newer ultrasofts.

“I knew that at some point I’d need to pull the gap to these while they were still behind Valtteri,” says Hamilton.

“I knew the strategy that Valtteri was on it was highly unlikely that he was going to make it last and when I pulled away from the grid I knew that Sebastian had been on the soft tyre. We knew that it would also make it very difficult to win, even for me, so that’s why the gap was really important.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix, F1 news

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  • 33 comments on “Hamilton felt Bottas’s strategy was “too optimistic””

    1. Just be thankful they used him to block Vet!

      1. That only occured due to traffic and Farrari’s poor pit stop…..

      2. @Champagne Bottas was protecting his own race, he started P2 and was protecting his own P2 so don’t cry about blocking. Vettel is not skilled enough, almost destroyed his own race by cutting across Bottas. It was Ferrari’s poor pitstop that causes Vettel to be in traffic.

        1. @noname I am not with the Hamilton hating crowd, although I do think Bottas has been playing a supporting role lately (although not in an obscene blatant why like Ferrari with Raikkonen). However, I still don’t understand how pitting to cover Kimi made sense. Kimi was 4th, Valteri was 2nd. Even if Bottas actually preferred to try something different with a 2-stopper, why stop that early? I’m not suggesting anything nefarious, but I was baffled by the strategy. Valteri was going to be my driver of the day if he managed 2nd. He had done amazing.

          1. A bit too optimistic if Mercedes think Bottas can hold on to P2 and the soft tyres to last till the end of the race. P3 should be Bottas to lose had he covered Kimi when Kimi pitted for second time, however he didn’t and ended up in P5.

            I cannot think of any other reason for not pitting Bottas for a second time except to block Vettel.

            1. Schumi Keeping P2 is not a reason?

            2. @patrickl Haha exactly. You wonder what some people are on.

              Ferrari fans:

              German GP: WHY DID MERCEDES PIT BOTTAS AND HAND HIS POSITION TO HAMILTON, SO UNFAIR

              Hungary GP: WHY DIDNT MERCEDES PIT BOTTAS AND HAND HIS POSITION TO VETTEL, SO UNFAIR.

            3. @Martin

              German GP: Bottas was on very old soft. If they didn’t pit Bottas, he will be ahead of Lewis, Kimi, Vestappen and the Hulk who will be on NEWER Ultrasoft tyres after the safety car. Bottas will not finish on the podium

          2. “obscene blatant” to be called “wingman”?!

          3. @ajpennypacker It was clear from free practice that Ferrari were much faster. So the threat of an undercut from Raikkonen was quite real.

            Still, In hindsight Mercedes probably wouldn’t have stopped him so early no.

            In the end it was just luck that Vettel’s pitstop was timed and executed so poorly that Vettel unexpectedly ended up behind Bottas. If that had gone normally, Bottas would never come back into play.

            Since that did happen, Bottas suddenly did come back into play and he actually had a chance to take P2. If he could keep keep his tyres alive till the end. He came close.

            Clearly Hamilton didn’t need Bottas to do so since Vettel wasn’t even able to use his fresh Ultrasofts to get past Bottas on already oldish Softs.

        2. @noname He didn’t cut across Bottas, though. The incident happened because Bottas still attempted to re-overtake him into T2 despite having no chance to succeed in it due to very worn tyres. He should’ve just backed off at that point rather than attempt to do what he did by not starting to apply the brakes early enough despite being on the dirty side of the track with worn tyres, which together aren’t a good combination.

    2. This sounds like as if Mercedes had it planned before the race started. I would have preferred to have Lewis being in 2nd and defending against the Ferraris given that he had the stronger pace on Sunday. If Vettel took a lot of laps behind Valterri then with Lewis it would have been a different story since his tyres were fitted later. I wonder if Mercedes knew that Kimi was doing a 2 stop because I still do not understand why they brought Valterri in so early unless that is to cover Kimi.

    3. @krichelle With other words Ferrari used Kimi as a classic No2 driver to help out Vettel like always..

      1. yes that is the case and no one denies that. But mercedes said their drivers are free to race but told Bottas to keep position in Hockenheim and not pitting Bottas to cover off Kimi in Hungaroring.

        1. Sorry, it’s not the case. Start looking at the facts and you’ll notice you fell into the trap made up by british media and anti-Ferrari fans. Just watching Sky is a disgrace, their bias and invented stuff to bash Ferrari and VET have no boundaries. Brundle used to be more impartial until last year, but now you can’t tell the difference between him and Crofty, Ted etc. So, RAI was behind VET, as almost all times, be it practice, quali or race… how on Earth can someone be sacrificed to no.2 when he’s already in 2nd position?! This was the 1st race of the season when RAI managed to outqualify VET. It’s like there’s no race anymore when Ferrari is not blamed for sacrificing RAI race to help VET, although there’s no real evidence to sustain them even in 20% of the cases.

          1. @mg1982 He was clearly sacrificed as an undercut threat again into a two stop strategy which was by far the inferior strategy.

            Who else made two stops? Exactly. There you have it. 100% under the bus. Again.

          2. @mg1982 he was pitted on the 10th lap just to get Bottas out of the way of Vettel

            At the beginning he was on the faster tyre (different strategy) so why didn’t they switch drivers? When Vettel was behind Kimi at Germany, Vettel was screaming like a banshee, asking the team to tell Kimi to slow down and let him past. Atleast Fernando didn’t cry over the radio in 2010

      2. Let it go, man, you’re not realistic and fair. There’s no real proof for that. Probably that was their strategy from the start. The way the race unfolded for him, that was the better bet. RIC’s race is proof for that, he started way behind, had to do a certain number of passing, made 2 stops and he caught BOT before the race ended! So, if he managed to get BOT, it’s obvious he would have caught RAI too, ’cause he was behind BOT. Also, I guess you’ve heard Ferrari mentioning Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. Probably, losing a place to VET at the start trigerred PLAN B… in case it wasn’t planned to pit him 2 times before the start of the race. RAI kinda compromised his race on his own by losing a position at the start and remained stuck behind BOT and VET. No need to mention again all the negative effects of that. VER retiring and BOT being kinda slow and impossible to pass, actually it was the better strategy to make 2 pit-tops: very good tyres all race long, free air, very good lap times. With 2 pit-stops he still finished 1sec behind VET, so he recovered 20sec, what’s not to see? He had nowhere to go, was going to stop before VET anyway, the chances to undercut BOT while having VET between them were very slim. Their slow pit-stops killed his chances completely anyway. RAI had nothing to lose, but only to gain, and by changing strategy in the race actually Ferrari proved they’re not that passive and just respond to others moves, but they actually try to do their own race.

        1. Or just think of it this way. Championship standings remained the same but switch the drivers from Bottas to Hamilton, and Vettel to Raikkonen. So Vettel in 4th place pits for a second time, would Mercedes pit Lewis to protect Bottas who is leading the race, or pit Lewis to cover off Vettel?

          This will tell you a good picture about who is being sacrificed. For one i know is that when Vettel catched up to Kimi, Kimi will be asked to let Vettel through.

          1. Let’s not forget In Germany had Mercedes double pitted, Hamilton would have been second to Bottas.
            Bottas would have had his deserved much deserved win. In fact had they double pitted, there’s a good chance Mercedes might have finished 1st and 3rd, with the Ferrari sandwiched between.

            As it is Hamilton’s spider senses kicked in at the last moment and he stayed out. He knew he was on fresh enough tires to complete the race.

        2. Think you’re looking at that in a way that suits your argument. Ricciardo only caught Bottas because of the contact between Bottas and Vettel (I believe he also 1 stopped – he did a mega long first stint).

          Vettel would have been a further 20 seconds or so down the road if he’d got past Bottas either in the pits (which should of happened) or early on, Raikkonen would have been no where near him.

          In my opinion, Raikkonen is completely sacrificed for Vettel each time, which gives him no chance of winning a race. I think Merc definitely favour Hamilton when they have to, but do give Bottas more of a chance to challenge.

          In regards to Merc strategy, he was also only 5 laps or so from holding P2, but was a bit too ambitious to go that long.

          1. Sorry, don’t get it exactly, VET would have been 20sec down the road compared to what or whom?! Anyway, doesn’t really matter, I think you’re wrong. VET had the pace and the tyres to keep it up with HAM to say the least, he was just caught behind BOT too much time of the race. After he got rid of BOT, he started to lap even more than 1sec faster, setting his best lap time from the race on last lap!

            Better enlighten us how Ferrari is sacrificing RAI every time, this race in particular, ’cause all I see it’s just some accusation without any explaining and I got tired responding. Maybe you’re right and it’s something I don’t see, so I’m interest to see your point. As I see it: RAI lost his position to VET at the start, fair and square, he finished behind him. Don’t see any sacrifice at all, it’s not like RAI was in front of VET any moment of the race AND/OR had any chance to get in front of BOT and VET either. The only overtaking maveouvers between front runners took place when different strategies got to the point to make a difference in performance, other than that top 5 were on the path of finishing the race in the same order as they were after lap1. So, maybe you should actually blame RAI for underperforming since he lost a place although he was on faster tyre, also for not being able to pass anybody from his main competitors. Basically, what you ask from Ferrari is to gift RAI better places to VET’s expense, therefore turning VET into no.2. It’s insane! Better ask RAI to up his game. BOT too. At least VET managed to pass BOT on-track in a fight, RAI didn’t do even that, he was just gifted the place by BOT (and VET).

            1. @mg1982 Vettel was 25 seconds ahead of Bottas a few laps before his stop. Vettel could have made a safe stop and then some.

              Instead they waited till Vettel lost almost 8 seconds to make that stop.

              You can keep crying about how unfair it was that Mercedes “sacrificed” Bottas when clearly you should be blaming Ferrari and Vettel for messing up what should have been a very easy stop giving Vettel P2 and a shot at Hamilton for P1

    4. I think Bottas strategy was quite optimal .. For getting Lewis first place.

    5. The Hero defend his Sidekick.

      1. If Bottas was a more forthright character like Nico Rosberg or Mark Webber, I’m sure there would be more fireworks within the Mercedes garage. But Bottas can be easily pacified – good for Mercedes, but we probably get to miss some crackle.

    6. In my opinion the real reason why BOT was on a strategy that doesn’t make any sense is because of Merc’s strategy structure. James Vowles is the sole strategist in the team for both cars. I remember Lewis was critical of that structure when he 1st got to Merc because apparently at Mclaren they had 2 independent strategists for each side of the garage whose purpose was to out compete each other AND obvioulsy make sure their side of the garage is on a race winning strategy.

      Now when Merc had a clear advantage James’ job was alot easier. Now Ferrari and the Bulls are in the mix I just feel that he is out of his depth a little bit. Maybe a sole strategist is too big a job for one man in a close world championship fight? Think about the opportunities missed in Hungary with the VSC and GB with not at least splitting the strategy between HAM and BOT.

      I am not aware of whether Ferrari and RBR have a sole team strategist as well.

      1. They have a whole team of people working out all the possible scenario’s.

    7. I wonder if Bottas was bought in for his pit stop at the lap M-B had planned for a 2-stop, partly in order to check whether his ultrasofts were wearing as expected or better?

      Gives them information on whether the race would be better as a 1-stop ‘pacing the effort’ or 2-stop ‘sprint’ for Lewis. Would make Toto’s comment about wingman make better sense.

    8. Maybe?? Covering Ferrari is about 10 Occam’s points closer to the likely reality.
      Seriously people, there hasn’t been a simpler, more straightforward race to decipher since… Monaco.

    9. Seems pretty obvious Merc/Bottas were running for Bottas’s benefit, not to maximize Hamilton’s race.

      If they were trying to run Bottas to help Hamilton they wouldn’t have pitted to cover Kimi (which basically handed Vettel the conditions he needed to maximize his strategy) they would have just left Bottas out. Infact they would have just had him run the same 25 laps Hamilton did for the first stint but 1 second off the pace, At lap 25 Hamilton could have pitted as he did and come back out on fresh tyres and in the lead, then they could have pitted Bottas and probably still got 3rd place from Raikkonen when he made his second stop.

      1. Exactly. If Mercedes wanted to use Bottas as a pawn to aid Hamilton, it would have made much more sense to keep him going as a buffer behind Hamilton and risk Raikkonen getting that undercut.

      2. I hadn’t really thought of that. I guess the best thing for Hamilton would have been for Bottas to stay out even longer on his first stint and allow Hamilton to actually get far enough down the road to pit and still emerge in the lead. At worst he would have emerged in fourth knowing that Kimi would most likely need to stop again. Hamilton could then manage the race such that when Vettel did eventually pit he would still have emerged behind Bottas. At worst Kimi miraculously makes his tires last to the end but more likely he pits again handing P2 to Bottas and with fresher tires he’s able to hold off Vettel to the finish.

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