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Five Times Mercedes Made Horrendous Strategy Calls in F1

Five Times Mercedes Made Horrendous Strategy Calls in F1

Mercedes have been the perfectionists when it comes to strategy during races. But even such perfect teams are prone to making miscalculations at times.

Prior to this season, Mercedes have messed their strategies up at times during races where they called in their drivers at the worst possible time that eventually cost them some valuable points.

Take a look at the five times when Mercedes made some bad decisions regarding their strategies.

Mercedes at the United States Grand Prix, 2018

The action unfolds after lights out at the F1 Eifel GP
Formula One F1 – Eifel Grand Prix – Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action at the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Lewis Hamilton started the race on pole but lost his lead to Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari going into Turn 1. For over 10 laps, Lewis was just a second off of the Ferrari and was eager to get past the Finn.

All was going well for Lewis until Lap 11 when Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race. Since the car was parked just on the exit of Turn 11, Stewards called for a Virtual Safety car.

Mercedes assumed this could be beneficial for Lewis and asked him to react opposite of Kimi. He entered the pits as he witnessed Kimi going towards the final turn into the next lap. Though the move gave him a lead after the leaders pitted, there was always a second stop coming for Lewis.

By lap 38, there was no rubber left on his tires as he was called in for his second stop. Kimi, who was just 8 seconds behind, regained the lead as Lewis came out behind Max Verstappen.

Lewis threw everything at the Dutchman, but in vain, as he had to accept P3 in a race where a win was there for the taking.

Austrian Grand Prix, 2018

It was an incredible start to the race as the fans saw Lewis, Bottas and Kimi drag racing into Turn 1 as the reigning World Champion took the lead in the race. He battled his teammate hard, but that lasted only till Lap 14 as Bottas retired from the race citing a gearbox failure.

The virtual safety car was called in by the stewards while the marshals cleared Bottas’ car off the track. Both Kimi and Max used the opportunity to pit while Lewis stayed out. Eventually, the cars were back up to full speed and Max was catching up on Lewis pretty fast.

By Lap 26, Lewis pitted with a lead of just 12 seconds over the Dutchman. He came out of the pits behind Raikkonen and as the first round of pit stops were over; he ended up P3. That did not last long as Vettel made a move on Lewis to push him out of the contention for the podium.

But that did not matter anyway, as Lewis’ car suffered a power loss and he was forced to retire from the race.

Singapore Grand Prix, 2019

It was yet another race where Mercedes stopped Lewis from pitting early and made him do a longer stint. Lewis was P2 until the drivers around him pitted. He promoted himself up to P1 after Charles Leclerc pitted on Lap 21.

Lewis was finally given the call for the pit stop, just a few laps later than the others, as Mercedes realized that their strategy wasn’t working. He came out behind a bunch of midfield cars and was stuck behind traffic.

By the time he found his way back up, it was too late as he was already over 4 seconds off Max, who was in P3. Eventually, Lewis came home in a disappointing P4 as regret loomed over Mercedes for not pitting Lewis earlier than they intended to.

German Grand Prix, 2018

Lewis Hamilton closes his eyes atop the podium as the British national anthem plays after the Eifel GP
Formula One F1 – Eifel Grand Prix – Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Ronald Wittek

It was a bizarre race for Mercedes, Lewis started the race on Softs and did a massive stint on it. Later, during Lap 43, he pitted for a set of Ultrasofts and slotted himself into P3 behind Kimi.

During the latter part of the race, the race leader, Vettel, crashed into barriers as the safety car was called, which created confusion over the strategy.

Both Bottas and Kimi pitted and ended up behind Lewis, who took the lead in the race for the first time. But before that, he too was called into the pits. As Lewis was bringing his car in, his race engineer asked him to stay out and then immediately called him in again.

Lewis decided to stay out as he crossed the pit lane’s white line to get back on to the track. The stewards took note of it, but Lewis escaped from receiving a penalty as he went on to win the race.

Mercedes at the Monaco Grand Prix, 2015

The worst has been kept for the last. The 2015’s Monaco Grand Prix was the race where Mercedes did the unthinkable by making a massive blunder in their strategy with Lewis.

Lewis drove extremely well and was in P1 throughout the race and managed to solidify a 24 second lead from his then-teammate, Nico Rosberg.

With just 10 laps to go, the safety car was called into the race following a crash by Verstappen. Mercedes could have kept it simple and let Lewis finish the race on the same tires.

But fearing Vettel or Rosberg might pit, Mercedes pitted Lewis from P1 as he came out behind the two. Lewis, in the end, saw the chequered flag in P3 as a direct result of a terrible call.

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