Mercedes didn’t want to risk fastest lap stop

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton pit stop aerial 2020.jpg

Toto Wolff says there was “confusion” around Lewis Hamilton’s late pit stop as earlier in the day Mercedes had decided not to “risk” it for the fastest lap point.

Hamilton was in sublime form at Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, building up a three second lead on the first lap alone.

The Brit ran his own race, one with a few tyre complaints but nothing too serious, as he charged towards an eighth Hungarian victory.

Such was his lead over second placed Max Verstappen that Hamilton could easily pit late in the race to put on fresh tyres and try for the fastest lap of the grand prix point.

He wanted soft tyres, Mercedes told him they’d rather put him on the hard tyres because there was still 10 laps to go.

Mercedes decided against stopping the Brit at that point, telling him to “standby” before eventually pitting him on lap 66 for shiny new soft tyres.

Hamilton took the 25 points for the victory, and an extra point for the fastest lap.

“Our communication was not great around that,” Wolff told Autosport.

“In the morning we agreed that we wouldn’t pit for a quickest lap, that it was bearing too much risk.

“The call to pit around lap 60 to protect against the Safety Car certainly would have been the right call, but then the gap was never quite comfortable enough. It was a second or two, then 2.5, then we hit backmarker traffic.

“Then obviously we communicated with Lewis, so at the end it was a bit of confusion, and four laps to the end he pitted to score the fastest lap.

“I think there’s a lot to learn from the intercom conversation that we had in the garage, and the communication to the driver.

“[It was] certainly not 1A, but at the end the result counts.”

Hamilton praised Mercedes for taking the risk, thankful as he feels that one point could be what makes the difference in the championship race.

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“You have to weigh up the risks and I didn’t push so much that I was going to make a mistake and go off — it was a controlled lap,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve lost the World Championship in the past by one point, so I know how crucial it is to maximize every moment.

“We’re in a year where you don’t know what reliability is going to be like, you don’t know how long the season is going to be.

“Valtteri had a great particularly first race, at the time he had the fastest lap, I had the gap, I felt it was necessary to just get that point with the gap that I had.”

Hamilton is leading the Drivers’ standings on 63 points, five ahead of Bottas.

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