The 2021 Turkish Grand Prix was one of those races that kept the team strategists glued to their seats from the start until the chequered flag. While most of the teams managed to pull off decent decisions, it was a rather contrasting story with Mercedes in the case of Lewis Hamilton.
The Brackley outfit and their championship-winning driver offered varying opinions on the strategy; Hamilton wanted to stay out on the very same tires he started the race on while the team demanded Hamilton to pit on lap 42. And it took 5 laps for the duo to come to a consensus.
Formula One F1 – Turkish Grand Prix – Intercity Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey – October 10, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Umit Bektas
And when Hamilton dragged his car into the pits on lap 47, not only did he lose his podium position to Sergio Perez, but also P4 to Charles Leclerc. The news did not go down well with Hamilton, who had an outburst on the team radio despite his race engineer convincing it was for the best.
So, let’s leave our assumptions out! Where would have Hamilton finished his race had he pitted when Mercedes made the initial call? And where would have Hamilton finished had he not pitted at all? Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, has the answer.
Where Lewis Hamilton could’ve finished his race
Let’s begin with Mercedes’ opinion – change of tires for Hamilton on lap 42. Shovlin reckoned that Hamilton could have finished ahead of Leclerc in P4 had the Briton followed the team’s order.
“If they stabilised at the point that we brought him in, and they remained completely consistent there to the finish, we think he would have lost the place to Sergio, but he would have stayed ahead of Charles who finished P4,” he said according to Autosport.
And now, the other scenario – Hamilton not pitting at all. Well, Shovlin revealed that calculations had Hamilton slotted down in P8 had he chose to run with the same tires.
Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 29, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton before the race as the race is delayed due to bad weather Pool via REUTERS/John Thys
“The calculation that we couldn’t do until after the race was to take the degradation that we could see on Esteban. He was the only one who ran one set of inters to the finish,” he added.
“If we super-impose that degradation onto Lewis, then you could see that he’d actually be losing numerous places, almost dropping to the back of the points.”
Overall, it looks like Mercedes made the right decision with Hamilton, and that has indeed kept the latter in the championship mix along with Max Verstappen. So, will the Turkish GP result play a crucial role in Hamilton’s pursuit of the title?
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