Motorsport News


Team boss says call not to pit star driver was a gamble to win

- By Matt James

Mercedes head Toto Wolff says that a gamble to leave Lewis Hamilton on track on older rubber at the end of the Dutch Grand Prix was a roll of the dice to try and win which backfired.

Hamilton slipped from a late lead to fourth position at the flag as others with fresher tyres overtook him, including race winner Max Verstappen and the Briton’s own Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

Late on in the race, Hamilton came on the pits-to-car radio and, in an expletive-laden message, told the crew that he couldn’t understand why he had not swapped tyres for the dying throes of the 72-lapper.

Wolff said that it was a call from the pitwall in an effort to consolidat­e Merc’s position at the head of the pack but it had ultimately proved to be its undoing.

Wolff said: “It is highly emotional for the driver, you are that close to be racing for the win and then you’ve been eaten up, so it is clear that every emotion comes out.

“You, as the driver in the cockpit, you are alone and you don’t see what is happening. We discussed at the moment, are we taking risks for the race win? Yes, we are taking risks. He had a tyre that was five laps old, the medium, holding position was the right thing to do. At the end it didn’t work out for him but I’d rather take the risk to win the race with Lewis rather than finish second and third.”

When he was quizzed as to why Russell was allowed to stop for the preferable softer tyres at the end, Wolff explained: “Lewis was ahead, so you always have a little bit longer with the call [for those behind].

“You can do two things: you can either pit Lewis and lose track position against Verstappen and leave George out screwed, or you can pit both, screwed. So it was worth taking the risk.”

 ?? Photos: Motorsport Images ?? Lewis Hamilton was a sitting duck at the end
Photos: Motorsport Images Lewis Hamilton was a sitting duck at the end

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