Lewis Hamilton was incandescent on the radio following the safety car restart caused by Valterri Bottas broken Alfa Romeo. The Mercedes team had failed to pit him for new tyres unlike his team mate George Russell and so Lewis fell from leading the race to P4 as Verstappen, Russell and LeClerc easily passed the British driver within a couple of laps of the restart.
“I can’t believed you guys fucking screwed me, man. I can’t tell you how pissed I am right now,” complained Hamilton as he saw his chance of a podium slipping away.
Yet the way the saga unfolded with Mercedes was more complicated now we have the complete pit radio transcript.
With 16 laps to go Bottas stricken car caused a full safety car and Red Bull immediately responded bringing Max Verstappen in for his third stop to fit fresh soft tyres to go to the end.
Mercedes meanwhile dithered and Lewis took the lead from Verstappen and Russell was in P2.
Lewis Hamilton appeared to be content to stay on his older tyres but George Russell questioned the team’s decision.
Below on the left is the radio messages between Lewis Hamilton and his engineer Bono. On the right is Russell and his engineers messages.
Couresty of Racefans.net
At this moment in time it appeared Mercedes had decided first to leave both cars out, with George Russell as a wingman to protect Lewis lead and gain the DRS to help keep Verstappen behind. However Russell is already questioning the team’s strategy and asking for a new set of red tyres realising Verstappen will be too quick at the restart.
Interestingly, it appears Mercedes had a quick change of mind an considered splitting the strategy but it is Lewis who is going to pit for fresh rubber. George is told to stay out.
However, the team never make the call for Lewis to come in.
Yet the next lap the story changes.
So because of his persistence it is George Russell who gets the fresh rubber and Hamilton is left with track position leading the race but on older tyres than the others behind him who all stopped.
Lewis realised he was in trouble as soon as he saw his team mate pit as he explained.
“When [the Safety Car] came out I just followed the direction, I didn’t think anyone was going to stop.”
“When I pulled past my pit box I saw the soft tyres were out and I saw it was happening into George. In that moment, I was like, hold on a second? So kind of then my hope started to fade a little bit.”
A grinning George Russell who finished P2 believed the team had made the right call in splitting the strategy, though of course it was he not Lewis who benefitted.
“As a team it was an incredibly difficult decision because had we both pitted, we would have conceded the position to Max,” he said. “Had we both stayed out, we probably both would have lost out to Max as well.
“So the best chance we as a team had of victory was splitting the cars, one to stay ahead of Max, one to stay behind and see what happened. If you could have just got those tyres restarted, it could have been different but it was always going to be very, very challenging for him.”
So here we had flash backs to Abu Dhabi where Mercedes failed to pit Lewis under the safety car while Red Bull gave Verstappen fresh rubber – and the Dutchman blew past Hamilton at the restart to win the race and the 2021 title.
However, there was another flashback to 2021. In Baku, Verstappen was leading the race when a tyre failure caused him to hit the wall on the main straight. Hamilton inherited the lead under the safety car.
Yet at the restart, Lewis forgot to select the correct mode within the cockpit and it saw him sail of the track with no brakes at turn 1.
In Zandvoort, Mark Hughes of Motorsport Magazine reveals that Lewis had another brain fade moment at the restart again.
“Hamilton on old tyres was sure to be passed anyway – by the new tyres Verstappen, Russell and LeClerc – but he made it far easier for Verstappen than it otherwise would have been by inadvertently selecting the wrong engine mode for the restart.”
We saw an apologetic Hamilton in the press pen after the race, talking up the positives of the weekend. So clearly behind the scenes he had been informed of his mistake and realised the inappropriate nature of his rant over the team’s strategy decision.