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Wolff takes responsibility for missed Hamilton pit stop call

NEWS STORY
30/09/2018

Toto Wolff has taken responsibility for the chain of events that were to eventually lead to the need for team orders at Sochi today.

When race leader Valtteri Bottas pitted on lap 12, it was expected that Lewis Hamilton would pit next time around, indeed, the Briton upped his pace to suggest that it was 'Hammer-time'.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel had been ordered to do the opposite of what the Briton did, and when the Mercedes driver continued around for another lap it was the German who pitted.

Pitting a lap later, Hamilton rejoined the race alongside Vettel, but the German had the speed advantage and held off the Briton. "Guys, what just happened," asked Hamilton of his team.

Speaking after the race, team boss Toto Wolff admitted that Hamilton should indeed have pitted the lap after his teammate.

"We got tangled up in the way we called the pit stops," Wolff told reporters. "We did the right thing by calling Valtteri in first, but we were one lap too late with Lewis.

"I'll take it on me, because I was engaging with James in a conversation when he should have made the call," he added, referring to strategist James Vowles. "And this is why he came in a lap too late and lost position. While we were considering what to do, I was in an exchange with James, and this made us pit one lap too late.

"We pitted Valtteri and then Lewis came on the radio and said it is one lap too late, Seb has pitted and we already committed to another one because we were having a discussion about it, and it was just this one session too much."

In making the subsequent pass on Vettel which saw him take fourth - behind Raikkonen, Verstappen and Bottas - Hamilton blistered his tyres, thus setting in motion the chain of events that would eventually lead to the team ordering Bottas to yield to his teammate.

"Lewis had to fight hard to overtake Sebastian, which was really an awesome move, but blistered the tyres," said Wolff. "And then we were in a situation that Valtteri in front managed the tyres, Lewis behind with a blistered rear and Sebastian all over Lewis.

"At that stage, there were two possible outcomes," he admitted. "The best case would have been it stays like it is and we finish second with Lewis and win with Valtteri, the worst case was the blister wouldn't last until the end and Lewis would have been overtaken by Sebastian in order to manage his tyres. This is why I think Valtteri in between was the call we made. Rationally, it was the right call to do, but our sporting heart says no."

Despite growing anger from fans and indeed Hamilton himself, Wolff insists that had the blistering worsened it could have been disastrous for the world champion.

"We saw it at Spa," he said, "we had to pit another time. Ferrari at Monza had a bad blistering problem and had to pit again. Imagine the scenario, having to pit Lewis again and finishing sixth or seventh. Finishing sixth, rather than winning the race. That's the pressure moment where we made the call."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Sochi, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by jcr, 02/10/2018 13:50

"The last time this happened it was front page news all over the world,
But that was a German driver who was not the World Icon that this one appears to be !!
and can"t be upset at any cost.
Hami appears to have so much power within the team
the likes of which has never been seen before."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by David B., 01/10/2018 19:21

"This decision was totally unneeded. It takes away from the sport.
Wolf may have considered this a good decision for his team, but it was a bad decision for the sport of Formula 1. There is little enough competition on the track as it is. When you make decision like this that reduce the competition, what is there left to watch?
David B."

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3. Posted by Lapps, 01/10/2018 14:07

"When Lewis wins the Championship by 70 clear points we need to remember yesterday again and the uselessness of it!

So what happened yesterday:
Lewis didn't win the Race; and he knows it
Vallteri didn't win the Race and will be effected by it. Remember Massa lost (some of) his speed for ever after "Fernando is faster than you!".
Mercedes only got the same result they would have obtained without meddling, but now their Brand is seen by the whole World, as anti-sporting and Commercial.
The Mercedes Team and Factory, which would otherwise have basked in the 1,2 finish and been energised to further efforts now has a lot of individuals who are ashamed of being part of this decision.
What a sad and useless day. "

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4. Posted by Racer76, 01/10/2018 12:38

"Can we name it what it was? A horrible excuse for a horrible decision that meant Vallteri would be second. Wolff isn't stupid. He knows what kind of shitstorm will (rightfully) hit Mercedes. Simple and plain. Bad day for racing. Horrible day for Mercedes F1"

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