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Allison: We did something plain dumb

NEWS STORY
18/11/2019

Having missed out on the opportunity to pit Lewis Hamilton when the safety car was deployed in the wake of Valtteri Bottas' retirement, whereas Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc had taken full advantage, when the safety car was deployed again following the Ferrari clash the German team was in a quandary.

Running behind Verstappen, as he approached the pit entry, with just five laps remaining, the Briton was told by his engineer, Pete Bonnington: "Let us know if you want tyres,", advising the world champion, "you will lose one place".

"You make the decision," barked the driver, before quickly adding, "I'll come in, I'll come in" moments later.

However, in pitting the Briton lost not one but two positions, emerging behind third-placed Alex Albon. It was in his bid to pass the Thai driver that the pair subsequently clashed, dropping the Red Bull driver down the field and subsequently earning Hamilton a time penalty that eventually dropped him to seventh.

However, considering the length of the previous safety car period, most already thought Mercedes had taken a huge gamble in pitting Hamilton, what with the possibility of the race remaining under the safety car to the end. That fact the team left the decision to its driver was even more baffling.

"Having not had the shiniest of races to that point, we then just did something plain dumb," admitted technical director, James Allison, who, in the absence of Toto Wolff, was de facto team boss for the weekend, "which was, we thought we were exchanging a place for fresh rubber with enough laps left to get that place back properly and then have a go for the lead.

"That was just factually incorrect because we were exchanging two places," he continued, "we hadn't factored Gasly and secondly with the amount of debris on the track, there was just a lot more laps taken up by the safety car than we'd anticipated.

"And that was just, I think, that your rookie error of a not quite quick enough car on the day and trying to stretch too far for victory. It wasn't on, we just made a mistake.

"This was entirely our fault," he said, refusing to blame Hamilton for the call. "Because we saw what we thought was a fleeting opportunity.

"It was not at all clear to us that it was the right thing to do. But there was a possibility. We thought, well, let's let's give Lewis a chance to give his view, which we shouldn't have done because we didn't give him the right information. We said one place and it was two, and secondly, we should have just made the call ourselves. So he ummed and ahhed for a second or two before diving in the pits, because he likes racing. But that was our mistake.

"From the moment that we made the call it was like a heart-sink moment after he emerged from the box behind Gasly and then we just were thinking: 'Why do we do that?'"

Check out our Sunday gallery from Interlagos, here.

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1. Posted by Wokingchap, 18/11/2019 17:02

"I wonder if Toto will be at the next race... after this gaff."

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