DId strategy cost Mercedes & Lewis Hamilton victory?

How the australian gp was won and lost

3y ago
15.1K

Mercedes have defended their strategy for the Australian GP, attributing the pace of Ferrari rather than Lewis Hamilton's early pitstop for their season-opening defeat.

Sebastian Vettel, who was less than a second behind Hamilton when the Mercedes pitted at the sole round of stops, stayed out on track for five laps longer than his rival with the 'overcut' ultimately earning the German the lead of the race after Hamilton was held up by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

When told it was "race critical" for him to pass Verstappen, Hamilton responded over team radio: "I don't know how you expect me to do that."But Mercedes believe it was the pace of the Ferrari rather than their strategy which cost them the win.

"Ferrari were the strongest package as they were able to follow," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

"We were worried about the undercut possibility. We knew we would come out behind Max and Kimi and that's what happened. Ferrari played it very well."

But Mercedes believe it was the pace of the Ferrari rather than their strategy which cost them the win.

"Ferrari were the strongest package as they were able to follow," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

"We were worried about the undercut possibility. We knew we would come out behind Max and Kimi and that's what happened. Ferrari played it very well."

Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauda added: "It's very straightforward: Ferrari were quicker.

"They dominated the race from beginning to end. Bringing in Lewis earlier or later wouldn't have made any difference."

Hamilton had reported degradation from his tyres from the opening laps of the race and was the first driver to stop. He later revealed he only pitted one lap earlier than the intended target.

"I struggled with the tyres. I only stopped a lap earlier than my target but I couldn't go any further," said Hamilton.

But Jock Clear, Ferrari's head of race activities, revealed the Scuderia hadn't been considering what ultimately turned out to be a race-winning strategy before Hamilton's pitted.

"We were always thinking that we probably had reasonable pace and the undercut was possible," Clear told Sky F1. "We were trying to get up right behind Hamilton for the undercut and he went earlier.

"From that point you think 'ok, we'll go as far as we can and maybe we can attack them at the end' but then he got caught up in traffic and the overcut offered itself up effectively. Honestly, it sort of fell into our hands when he got caught behind Verstappen."

Mercedes' early-stopping strategy left some in the Melbourne paddock perplexed.

Force India's Otmar Szafnauer said: "If you are up front, track position doesn't matter so much but it did today though. I don't know what Mercedes were doing stopping [Lewis] when they did."

During race coverage, the Sky F1 punditry team admitted they had also been surprised by Mercedes' strategy.

"What l can work out is why they didn't see he would come out behind Verstappen?" asked Ted Kravitz.

"I don't think it was their finest hour," agreed Martin Brundle.

Don't miss the final word on the Australian GP in wednesday's f1 report

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Comments (4)

  • For everyone that thinks Ferrari is better than Mercedes already this year. If not for a strategy call last year Ferrari would have won last year's Australian GP but then look how the rest of the year turned out. Mercedes will come back and turn up the heat and we will start seeing Mercedes find hundredths and tenths over Ferrari in the coming months.

      3 years ago
  • Not at all. But well, if Hamilton would got out pit lane in front of Verstappen he could try an overtake but his car was obviously worse they vettel's

      3 years ago
  • Ferrari win,thank you Mr.Vettal! May you win many more! Awesome race car , thank you crew Scuderia!

      3 years ago
  • yes in my opinion it did, well done Ferrari good to have a prancing horse victory i say.

      3 years ago
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