We Made the Wrong Choice’: Mercedes F1 Explain Blunder With Lewis Hamilton in Hungary

Published 08/05/2021, 4:46 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – July 31, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after qualifying in pole position Pool via REUTERS/David W Cerny


Mercedes had an interesting race in Budapest, to say the least. One of the key talking points was why didn’t Lewis Hamilton pit and change his set of tires, like the rest of the grid did for the restart.

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Team Principal Toto Wolff had stated that it was the right decision, and he doesn’t regret it. However, in the team debrief video, technical director Mike Elliott feels that it was a mistake not to call Lewis back in the pits to change their set of tires.

This strategy made the Silver Arrows throw away a win. But, it wasn’t all downhill for the Brackley-based out, as Hamilton inherited second place following the disqualification of Sebastian Vettel.

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Mercedes admits that not pitting Lewis Hamilton was a mistake

While his rivals pitted to change their intermediate tires, the 7-times world champion stayed out for the restart. However, this decision cost Hamilton as he eventually had to pit. Given the delay, he was at the back of the pack and had to battle his way up the grid to salvage his team’s weekend.

In retrospect, Elliott stated that they should have pitted instead of staying out. He said, “Clearly, in hindsight, we made the wrong choice, but you have to bear in mind those decisions are really, really tricky.”

“We agonized over what tire to fit at the very start of the race, as it turned out the inter was definitely the right choice because it started raining on the lap to the grid.”

“We agonized over what tire to fit after the red flag and clearly all of the cars fitted inters. And on that lap to the grid, even though all the drivers had fitted inters, clearly others decided to change their mind and we should have too.”

“But the reality is it’s actually more difficult for us as a team than it is for the other teams. When you are the front car, you can’t see what everybody else is doing – you are the lead car,” Elliot concluded.

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How did the race affect Lewis’s title hopes?

The Knight was starting on pole position and was hoping to seize another win. However, he wasn’t expecting the events of turn one to impact his race.

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The chaos on the opening lap caused the session to be red-flagged. While the race was about to resume, many were in the pits to change from intermediates to slicks, as the track dried up. However, Hamilton stayed out as he thought it was the best choice. Later, as he zipped around the Hungaroring, he realized his mistake.

Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action REUTERS/Florion Goga

Lewis came back to the pits to change his tires and lost the lead of the race, but he wasn’t going to give up. The 7-times world champion fought his way back and crossed the line third place. But there was another twist to their weekend as the stewards disqualified Vettel. Hence, Hamilton moved up to second and bagged eighteen points.

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Now leading the title race against Max Verstappen with 195 points, the Mercedes driver will hope to earn a victory at Spa to extend his lead in the championship.

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Arpit Gomes

851 articles

Arpit Gomes is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier’s Institute, he is a big fan of McLaren and their driver Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Arpit always looks forward to the paddock moving to Spa and drivers dealing with the exciting Eau Rouge corner as well the straight at Monza.

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