Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff reacted calmly to the criticism of his star driver Lewis Hamilton, following the Turkish Grand Prix and fifth place for the Englishman: “We have a thick skin.”
Not only in Lewis Hamilton’s home country England is there a controversial discussion about whether Mercedes has screwed up the racing strategy in Turkey or not. The fact is: Lewis Hamilton was only called in for a set of fresh intermediate tires eight laps before the end of the Grand Prix, later than most of his opponents, and Hamilton himself firmly believed that he could have gone through and held third place.
Hamilton scolded after the move: “Why did we give up my place? We shouldn’t have come in! ” When his race engineer Pete Bonnington informed him of the distance to Lewis’ pursuer Pierre Gasly, Hamilton growled: “Leave me alone!”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in his race analysis: “We have no problem with it if things get a little fiery on the radio. Certainly, we would not speak in such a tone to a pilot who is out there at a speed of 320 km / h. But everything is fine. We have thick skin because we understand that there are situations that frustrate a racing driver. But later he understands the situation better.”
Lewis Hamilton had already questioned his team’s approach in Russia, “after which he described our timing as a stroke of genius,” says Toto Wolff. “We just have to keep working on our communication and sometimes better describe what we are aiming for.”
“At Lewis we had to make some tough decisions over the course of the race. We thought that maybe we could stay outside with him, then we could have come in third without a stop. And if the racing line had dried up, we could even have brought him in to switch to the soft tires. So we had to choose between two options: either we pit to fight conservatively against Leclerc and Pérez for third place on the track, or we take a calculated risk in order to have a chance of victory or third place. »
“As the race went on, we saw Leclerc’s lap times drop on the older intermediates, and shortly afterwards Lewis felt the same and we knew that we couldn’t go through and had to pit again. At this point, Lewis was losing 1.5 seconds per lap on Gasly and Pérez. It would only have been a matter of time before they caught up with him. We finished 5th with Lewis in the end, and I’m happy with our decisions.”