Lewis Hamilton's late Brazilian GP pit stop was 'dumb', admit Mercedes
Why did Hamilton stop so late at Interlagos? Mercedes on their over-optimistic strategy gamble to beat Verstappen
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 19/11/19 6:27am
Mercedes have admitted they made a "rookie error" with their strategy gamble for Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of Sunday's frenetic Brazilian GP.
With Hamilton running second to Verstappen after twice being overtaken by the Red Bull driver, the appearance of a second Safety Car with five laps to go for the Ferraris' collision prompted Mercedes to pull the world champion in for a third stop and fresh tyres in a bid to win the race.
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However, Hamilton returned to fourth in the queue and, once the race was running again, there were only two laps left and the Briton soon collided with Alex Albon's Red Bull. He finished third but was later handed a time penalty for the clash and dropped to seventh.
But Mercedes technical director James Allison said the strategy was "entirely our fault" and that they misjudged the situation.
"Having not had the shiniest of races up to that point, we then just did something plain dumb," said Allison as he recounted the move to pit Hamilton on lap 66.
"We thought we were exchanging a place for fresh rubber with enough laps left to get that place back promptly and then have a go for the lead.
"That was just factually incorrect because we were exchanging two places - we hadn't factored Gasly - and secondly with the amount of debris in the track there was just a lot more laps taken up by Safety Car than we'd anticipated.
"And that was just I think your rookie error of a not quite quick enough car on the day and trying to stretch too far for a victory that wasn't on. We just made a mistake."
Absolving Hamilton of any blame, Allison said they had not given the world champion the "right information" when they asked him his thoughts over the radio and that, in any case, "should have made the call ourselves".
"We saw what we thought was a fleeting opportunity. It was not at all clear to us it was the right thing to do, but there was the possibility," he added.
Hamilton-Albon: SkyPad Extra analysis
All the angles with Sky F1's Karun Chandhok as he looks at the incident on Interlagos' penultimate lap which - ultimately - cost both Hamilton and Albon a podium finish. Did the Red Bull leave the door too far open? What could Hamilton have done differently? Karun looks at the evidence...