Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Hamilton “can’t take credit” for race-winning switch to intermediates

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes team deserve the credit for the decision to switch to intermediate tyres at the end of the Russian Grand Prix, which secured his victory in the race.

Mercedes twice called Hamilton in for intermediate tyres as rain fell at the end of the race. He came in the second time and took the lead of the race when Lando Norris, who stayed on slick tyres, spun ahead of him.

“I can’t take credit for that amazing decision,” said Hamilton after the race. “That was the team’s.”

He said he didn’t come in at first because he wasn’t convinced the track was wet enough for intermediates.

“It was slippery in [turn] five and a little bit in seven. But everywhere else the grip was pretty good.

“And Lando went off I think in five one lap and I was like, stay out, that’s going to most likely happen again, I’ll try and catch him up. And then they called me in and I was like he’s right there, I don’t want to… I’ve only got three laps to catch up 24 seconds. I was like, ‘no way’.

“So I wasn’t convinced the first lap. The next lap it was raining more and I was definitely more convinced then so I came in.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said running behind McLaren gave them an advantage when it came to making the crucial decision to pit.

“Obviously things got pretty erratic at that stage,” said Wolff. “I understand why it was so difficult for McLaren to take this decision to stay out of the coming in.

“As a leader, you can only lose. And we benefited from that today.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Hamilton “can’t take credit” for race-winning switch to intermediates”

  1. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said running behind McLaren gave them an advantage when it came to making the crucial decision to pit.

    That really is key there – being the one chasing here was the better place to be in.

    1. @bascb when the cars are so close on track, how does that help?

      I guess the argument was that Mercedes could take a pit stop without losing position so the gamble was free but Lewis had to agree to it and give up on the 20 lap chase while trying to overtake Norris.

      1. Well, yeah, the part where you can react to the guy ahead, but they cannot react to you before it is too late @freelittlebirds. But also, being able to see how the car ahead is moving around, how much spray it throws up etc.

        The choice was only going to work if the rain became more intensive.

        1. @bascb yeah but they were literally on top of each other :-)

          actually, Lewis was lucky he hadn’t managed to overtake Lando on track, otherwise, I feel he would have tried to defend the lead by staying out. I can’t imagine him pitting immediately after sticking the overtake…

          I think it’s harder to pit when you’re leading because you have to give away the position and fall 24 seconds behind. In that sense, I think it was harder for McLaren and Lando.

          It was a crazy situation for sure.

  2. Yeah but you can take credit for heeding the call when victory was on the line.

    Verstappen would have won otherwise. Massive 14 point swing.

  3. Nice to see HAM being honest and crediting the win to the team. On to the next.

    1. We will still see the same detractors taking some negative spin on this though. Sad but hey ho.
      I was fuming with Lewis yesterday and the first 25 laps of the race did nothing for my mood, but yet again Lewis (with the help of his team) pulled it out of the bag. As soon as he hit those Hard tyres it was a different Lewis. Great win today and the fact Lewis beat Norris made it all the sweeter for me. Need to see more of this in the coming races Lewis! Cut out these errors and you might have a chance.

  4. This is exactly why I can never understand when drivers and fans alike, say its easy when you’re in a fast car. It’s never easy as every decision, team and driver is a crucial link to the final results. Of course there are easy wins but it’s never guaranteed and that’s exactly why I love the sport. It’s a measure of your errors.

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