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Hamilton from 2 to 3 stops: This is how the Mercedes tactical trick worked

Wolfgang Wilhelm
Hamilton from 2 to 3 stops
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M ercedes team boss Toto Wolff didn't speak of one One-two. 'We won first and first place today. The fact that Hamilton still finished second despite a bad start and an unfortunate first pit stop counts like a victory.' It was made possible by the strategy team led by James Vowles.

Hamilton fell in third place behind Sebastian Vettel at the start. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get into the DRS area of ​​the Ferrari, Hamilton complained on the radio: 'I can't do it. I can't get past Vettel on the route.' If the full guest Hamilton gives up, who would have made it possible? For the Mercedes strategists, it quickly became clear that we would only bring Hamilton past with the earlier pit stop. Called 'undercut' in technical jargon.

A botched stop at Hamilton

But the undercut in lap 13 didn't work. Hamilton stood in the pits for 5.3 seconds. At the back left, the mechanic wasn't sure if the wheel nut was tight. He loosened the wheel nut and hammered it down a second time. Thanks to its dominance, Mercedes enjoys the luxury that safety has priority. 'Our motto is that we do not risk a retirement or a penalty for a badly assembled bike. We'd rather stand a few seconds longer in the pits,' explains an engineer.

Ferrari responded promptly and took it Vettel to the pits and stayed ahead of the second Silver Arrow. Three laps after Hamilton's pit stop, the strategists at the command post decided: We'll go from two to three stops. 'Because that was the safest way to take Ferrari by surprise at our speed in terms of risk strategies.'

Hamilton was instructed from the pits to rush Vettel. The Ferrari driver should break the soft set of tires in the middle section as early as possible, in case Ferrari would stick to its two-stop strategy. Hamilton would then have a better chance of catching up time on the hard tire compound in the third stint as on Vettel, as long as he still had to make the two tired sets by the laps.

And that's exactly what happened. Hamilton reduced the deficit after his second stop on the 32nd lap to Vettel's second pit stop on lap 40 from 22.9 to 10.3 seconds. That was enough to put the Ferrari 23.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton's final tire change on lap 51. AsHamilton accelerated out of the pit lane, Vettel was already 10 car lengths behind.

Two stops for Ferrari fastest

The second and third stops of the world championship leader were also not record-breaking. They were over 3 seconds. Because in both cases the front wing had to be adjusted. One click down for the hard tires, one click up again for the medium soles. Hamilton flew. His fastest race lap of 1.28.270 minutes was 2.5 seconds below the best value of his opponent.

After the race the question arose whether Ferrari should not have followed Hamilton's tactics with Vettel. Mercedes would have done it that way. 'For Ferrari there was only the risk with the undercut with the hard tires. We bring them up to temperature faster. If Lewis had put the hard tires on one lap earlier, he could have made the difference with a perfect pit stop and a perfect first lap.' /p>

Vettel waved it off. 'At some point they would have caught us. We couldn't always hope that something would go wrong at Hamilton. For us, two stops were definitely the best solution.' The strategy experts provide the explanation: On paper, three stops were 5 seconds faster than two, but only if the car has the speed of Mercedes and can also implement this theoretical calculation.

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