Mercedes explains Miami GP strategy after Lewis Hamilton confusion: ‘Between a hammer and an anvil’

Mercedes explains their strategy calls – and asks Lewis Hamilton about his contribution – at Miami GP after George Russell took advantage of the safety car to overtake his teammate, to take the lead in the fourth race in a row.

Last update: 05/22/12 5:00 PM

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Sky Sports Karon Chandhoek discusses the collision between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris and the battle between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Sky Sports Karon Chandhoek discusses the collision between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris and the battle between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Mercedes says they were “between a rock and a hard place” when they were tasked with Lewis Hamilton’s strategy at Miami GP and explained why they asked their driver to make the decision to stop himself.

Hamilton finished sixth in Sunday’s race and was again trailed by George Russell despite driving for his teammate for most of the weekend after the safety car played into the hands of Mercedes, holding the other.

Russell benefited from the crash of Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly with his first stop for new tires while Mercedes was left with a puzzle over Hamilton, who had already pitted. After some radio debates – with Mercedes consulting Hamilton for his own input in the decision – the seven-time world champion remained at the end and was overtaken by Russell on the right track.

Hamilton questioned the strategy afterwards, saying he did not understand why he was asked and was left as a “sitting duck” to Russell.

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott explained the scenario and the difficult decision for Mercedes in the team’s latest race report.

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated after finishing sixth in the Miami GP and admits he was confused by being asked to take the plunge decision during the safety car

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Lewis Hamilton was frustrated after finishing sixth in the Miami GP and admits he was confused by being asked to take the plunge decision during the safety car

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated after finishing sixth in the Miami GP and admits he was confused by being asked to take the plunge decision during the safety car

“The safety car came at exactly the wrong time for Lewis,” Elliott said.

“If we hadn’t put him on him, he would always have put George behind in a much newer frame. If we had put him on it, he would lose his proper position in favor of George.”

“Although Lewis would have had a new tyre, the only new tires we had were the hard or soft tyres, and while you might think a soft tyre would be a good solution, we knew the soft tyre would heat up very quickly.

“We knew it would heat up more quickly because he was behind George fighting on the track and that was going to put more heat in the tyres.

“We were caught between a hammer and an anvil and there was no real right answer.”

George Russell says Mercedes is still trying

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George Russell says Mercedes is still trying to ‘unlock performance’ but enjoyed his battle with Lewis Hamilton to finish fifth.

George Russell says Mercedes is still trying to ‘unlock performance’ but enjoyed his battle with Lewis Hamilton to finish fifth.

The lack of a “right or wrong answer” contributed to the team asking what he thought of Hamilton, Elliott said, a rare occurrence. They will “leave it up to your decision”, James Fowles, Mercedes’ head of strategy, told Hamilton, prompting the driver to respond: “Tell me, man, don’t leave it to me.”

“You would see us asking this question, What did he think he wanted to do?” Elliot said.

“It was just because there is no right or wrong answer, and sometimes the drivers have a better feeling in the car than we engineers who look at the data do.

“As it happened, the circumstances that occurred meant that Lewis lost because of the safety car.”

Despite the improvement of the weekend for Mercedes, Toto Wolff admits the team is in limbo after both Ferrari and Red Bull

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Despite the improvement of the weekend for Mercedes, Toto Wolff admits the team is in limbo after both Ferrari and Red Bull

Despite the improvement of the weekend for Mercedes, Toto Wolff admits the team is in limbo after both Ferrari and Red Bull

Hamilton has had no luck with Safety Cars in two of his last three races, and has now finished behind Russell in four straight days of racing.

“Unfortunately, Lewis has been unlucky a few times this season,” Elliott added.

“But that’s the way it’s going and hopefully it’s balanced over the season and he’ll have some advantages that will come to him with the timing of the safety cars at future races.”

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