Lewis Hamilton defied a call from his pit wall to stop late in the British Grand Prix, saying he didn’t want to “take the risk” of something going wrong.
Although throughout the first stint of the British GP it looked as if Valtteri Bottas was on course for the victory, the race played into Hamilton’s favour when Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo and brought out the Safety Car.
Handed what was effectively a free pit stop, swapping his mediums for hard Pirelli, Hamilton was leading Bottas by 21 seconds when Mercedes called him in for a pit stop with seven to go.
The team was concerned that Hamilton’s hard tyres would not last until the end of the grand prix and, given his gap to his team-mate, it would have been a free pit stop.
Hamilton, though, decided to stay out.
“Why take the risk?” he said explaining his decision.
“Yes, I had a pit stop window – but there’s the entry of the pit lane, there’s the stop, there’s the extra pressure on the mechanics to do the pit stop – and it’s not that I doubt them all but you just give chance to it.
“I’d saved enough in the tyres. I felt good, the hard tyre was really great, it could keep going. So it’s obviously a very, very solid tyre.
“I did have some blistering, so I was kind of conflicted.
“I was like ‘should I stop?’ I think it would have brought us back closer.
“I was just like, ‘there’s seven laps left.’ It’s very, very hard to catch a 21-second delta at the pace I can still do.
“So I decided to… it’s rare that I go up against the team but I decided that that was the best thing for me.”
The decision paid off for Hamilton as he raced to his record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix victory – and even grabbed the fastest lap on his very last lap.