F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Lewis Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button believes the seven-time world champion suffered from a lack of information at the Turkish Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver finishing fifth.
Hamilton opted to stay out on his used set of tyres towards the latter part of the race, despite the call from his team to come in and change for a new set of intermediates.
The seven-time world champion explained to Peter Bonnington, his race engineer, that he believed they should stay out, despite the tyres wearing away after over 40 laps of use.
With the whole field on fresher tyres, bar Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Hamilton’s times started to drop and he finally conceded and dove into the pits on lap 51 of 58.
But the gamble didn’t work out for Hamilton, with the 36-year-old rejoining the race in fifth place, just behind the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, and not enough laps left to claw back a podium result.
To add insult to injury, Hamilton was heard complaining that the new set of intermediate tyres were graining heavily and that the team should’ve listened to him and stayed out for the entirety of the race.
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In hindsight, however, Hamilton admitted: “I was losing performance to the guys behind but I think probably in hindsight I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier because when you come in with eight laps to go, you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that medium tyre on a drying track.
“So then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions so a bit frustrating but it is what it is.
“It felt good to be in third and I thought if I could just hold on to this, it’s a great result from 11th. Fifth is worse, but it could be worse.”
Yet, Jenson Button, who was in the commentary box for Sky during the race admitted it was a tough call for both driver and team.
“It’s a really tricky one,” he told Sky Sports F1. “And I’m sure Lewis was quite frustrated after the race.
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“But they’ve talked him through the process when he should have pitted – and he pitted right in the middle of when he shouldn’t have pitted if you know what I mean.
“If he pitted earlier, it would have been a good call, or if he didn’t pit at all and the tyres lasted to the end, it would have been a good call, but it was right in the middle, and that’s the area you don’t want to be in, really.
“But I think the bigger thing for me is the information, and I don’t think Lewis understood that he was going to lose two positions with the pit stop.
“He seemed quite happy when they said ‘pit, we want to get you out in front of Gasly’.
“It just didn’t seem like he knew he was going to lose a couple of places because then afterwards, he got quite frustrated, knowing he was back in fifth place behind two cars he didn’t expect to be.”
The result meant Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to retake the lead of the championship standings by six points heading to Austin in a fortnight’s time for the USA Grand Prix.
And with just six races remaining, tensions are high on both sides of the fence, but Button believes if Hamilton had pitted when the team initially called him in, the gamble would’ve paid off.
“He’s also probably thinking back to last year,” said the 2009 World Champion. “He stayed out on a tyre last year for a very long period of time, and it worked for him – but it’s not always going to work for you.
“It looked like it was going to [work], and I’m sure Red Bull were thinking: ‘Wow, okay, if he does get to the end, they’ve done a really good job’, and he’s made it work before.
“The car had a lot of downforce on it around here, he was able to look after the tyres better than anyone, so it might have worked.”
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