“The intermediate obviously looked really scary” – Toto Wolff feels Lewis Hamilton would have anyway lost out on the Turkish GP podium had he not pitted for fresh intermediate tyres.
Entering the final phase of the Turkish GP, in lap 42, came the call from Mercedes asking Lewis Hamilton to switch to a fresh set of inters. But the reigning champion wanted to finish the race without a pit stop, so this was his response:
Lewis Hamilton: Why?
Mercedes: New inter is the way to go.
LH: I don’t think so.
📻 “We shouldn’t have come in man”
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 10, 2021
Toto Wolff defends Mercedes’ call to pit Hamilton for inters
Nine laps later, though, Hamilton relented to the demands to pit, unaware that doing so would see him lose track position to Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.
He was visibly irritated, more so after he found it difficult to get past them, and instead, somehow held on to P5 against a rapidly approaching Pierre Gasly.
It is expected to be a long de-brief, but Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is adamant Hamilton would have lost out to even Gasly had he not pitted at all. He feels the Brit should have heeded their request and pitted on Lap 42 itself, presenting him with a strong chance of a podium finish.
“The intermediate obviously looked really scary, but we thought that we could maybe hang out there and finish third with not stopping. Or if a dry line appears maybe going on to a soft tyre until the end.
“So we balanced between pitting, taking it very conservative, fighting with Leclerc and Perez on the track for P3, or taking a little bit of a gamble and either winning or finishing third.
“Then we saw Leclerc dropping off and Lewis started dropping off and it was clear that we wouldn’t make it to the end.
“It [pitting on Lap 42] would have been better than what we have ended up at the end. But I think again it was measured and obviously if you are in the car he didn’t see how much he was dropping off in lap time and also he didn’t see Leclerc dropping off.
“It was clear that if we stayed out he would have lost against [Pierre] Gasly in any case. I think that he in the car still felt good, but he was one-and-a-half seconds off the pace and would have anyway lost the position.
“And on the other side it is always frustrating that you see the other cars, you haven’t actually passed them, they are out on track in front of you.
“The correct call would have probably been taking it very conservative and pitting when everybody pitted for the intermediate, coming out behind Perez, probably behind Leclerc and then fighting with them on-track for P3.”