“We pitted too early” – Hamilton

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Lewis Hamilton complained about McLaren’s race strategy after finishing seventh in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton made four pit stops during the race. He said: “Through the race I think my tyres went off.

“We boxed [pitted] too early then we had to box earlier. All the time we were boxing before everyone.”

Hamilton lost a place to Nick Heidfeld at the start of the race and fell behind Jenson Button when he had a slower pit stop than his team mate.

He said: “I did everything I could to keep up.

“That’s one of those days, you just have to take it on the chin and move forward.”

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix


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108 comments on “We pitted too early” – Hamilton

  1. I think Hamilton’s first stop was about the right time. He was really slow on what was supposed to be his last stint though. I don’t think there were any problems with his car (at least none were mentioned) but his times weren’t great. I have to say when I read this article I got an awful sense of de ja vu. Hamilton has to rely on the team and accept the strategiesn given or actively be involved in choosing them himself. He can’t keep critising the team when it seems like he doesn’t know how to work out a strategy himself because it’s just going to cause tension.

    • Simon999 (@simon999) said on 10th April 2011, 13:12

      Not sure to what extent I agree with that. During a dry race, how much of a part can a driver actually play in deciding when to change tyres?

      It’s the team that has all the comparative timing data. It’s the team that knows when other drivers have pitted. It’s the team that can see where the clear air might be. How much influence can the driver exert, other than to feedback the condition of the tyres (phase 1, phase 2 etc).

      I think when people talk about some drivers being able to make calls better than others, a lot of the time that is in relation to wet races – which I think is a different matter.

      The less influence a driver has in the process, the more right they would have to criticise the team if things go wrong (in my opinion). However, I don’t know what level of influence they can have, therefore it may be that you are right about Hamilton.

      • My point is Ham should really back his team more and retrospective criticism isn’t going to help. He can’t do much with strategy in a dry race I agree but he could be more assertive. Very few other drivers have the same nature of complaint as regularly as Lewis.

      • I don’t want to have a go at Lewis and of course you’re bang on that Hamilton can only have a limited role in influencing strategy but he can’t keep getting out of the car and blaming everyone else as even if it is true it just causes tension. Hamilton is one of the few drivers that consistently makes this criticism and it doesn’t stand up all that well when Jenson’s side nails it. He either has to accept it or increase his role in that side of things. I know it’s only a little thing and JB admitted himself today was confusing and he didn’t entirely understand it but this problem keeps happening to Lewis and there has to be a reason.

  2. DaveBlanc said on 10th April 2011, 13:16

    Just saw Hamilton has been given a 20s penalty for moving twice when defending his position. Does anyone have any more details?

  3. Joao Faria said on 10th April 2011, 13:47

    The question is why did Lewis hamilton use hard tyres on his last pit stop- he had already used a set – why did nt he go back to using soft tyres which obviously allow for a faster pace, since the obligatory hard tyre set had already been used

    • He flat spotted the softs in qualifying.

      Strange that Button said that the car “switched on” when he put the hard tyre on.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th April 2011, 15:12

        He started on that set so that doesn’t explain it.

        If it’s true though, we have tyres that go away faster but only the same amount available to the teams. Bravo.

  4. During a dry race, how much of a part can a driver actually play in deciding when to change tyres?

    I’ve no idea. Maybe he should ask Perez?

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th April 2011, 15:13

      Perez had planned and set his car up to make that work. It wasn’t a judgement call on-track.

      • Wrong actually. The team never expected to stop only once. No one did. They were in constant contact with the driver and were asking how his tyres were. He gave them feedback. That’s how it works.

  5. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 10th April 2011, 14:49

    Hamilton and McLaren made a monumental pigs ear of the race today, they brought him in too early for his 3rd stop. I really don’t understand why they would bring him in before his tyres have started dropping off and then to bring him in again with 3 laps left was an even more stupid decision.

    He could lose ten seconds per lap on his tyres for the last 3 laps and it’d still be better strategy than pitting as he would have the opportunity to at least try to defend his position until the end. And Lewis really should have looked after his tyres better.

    What an anticlimax.

    With good strategy Hamilton could have won the race today. McLaren need to sort their act out.

    • His first set of soft tyres were ruined by trying to get passed Heidfield. After that it was downhill all the way.

      With good strategy Hamilton could have won the race today. McLaren need to sort their act out.

      Good strategy includes feedback from the driver on how well his tyres are holding up. They can’t tell what is tyres are like sitting in the pit lane.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 10th April 2011, 19:49

        yeah because the driver can just look stick out his hand and measure how much compound is still on the tyre …

        • Subaru_600BHP said on 11th April 2011, 0:29

          no the driver will feel in the grip of the car and will know if the tyres are going off or not, its the drivers job to inform the team the right time to the change the tyres in my opinion, especially with these new type of tyre

          • VXR said on 11th April 2011, 1:56

            You would think so. Hence why Vettel referred to his tyres as having been in different phases. No one on the pit wall will know that better than the driver.

  6. Amazing how Lewis is always the first/quickest to blame the team. Never his fault. He’s turning into a real diva.

  7. Post race interviews are so telling.

    “Then, during the race, my tyres kept dropping off; we pitted earlier than was optimal, and ran out of tyres at the end. I’d hoped to make the end of the race on a set of used Primes, but they didn’t last so we had to pit right at the end of the race.”

    http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=43320

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 10th April 2011, 19:51

      Indeed, the “we pitted earlier than was optimal” says it all really.

      Well they gambled on overtaking Heidfeld in the pit and in the end Hamilton came a few laps short because of that.

      It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since so much else went wrong.

      • VXR said on 11th April 2011, 2:03

        It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since so much else went wrong.

        Too fast on the soft tyre. Too slow on the hard tyre. Some work to be done yet on how he uses the tyres.

  8. DaveW said on 10th April 2011, 18:08

    Before the race, I, and many others, predicted that Button could prosper because Hamilton (and Webber) would not be able to manage their tires well in the first stint. For both of those guys, it was worse than that, as they were stuck in tire-killing on track battles. This seems to be how it played out. But, for Hamilton, even after having been massively held up by Heidfeld in stint one, in stint two, he was pressuring Vettel. He was looking good. Then suddenly, he came in early for soft tires, had a terrible stop (again!), and then it all went pear shaped. The hard tires were terrible for him, somehow. Button, whom the team let jump Hamilton was just walking away from him on older tires. My view is that Hamilton, have stopped so early for the hard tires, knew that trying to keep up with Button would be a mistake—he needed to run to the end. Indeed it was very plausible scenario for him, even with such an early stop, and it seemed that Vettel would now feel the heat of knowing he had to get to his hard tire window before losing so much time he would have McLaren’s right on his back. But this year, the tires don’t work that way. They just die no matter what you do, so he was slow and the tires gave in anyway.

    As far as the finger pointing, if, at the crucial junction when Hamilton was catching Vettel on his second set of softs, Hamilton is the one said, “I am catching the other guy and my tires are better than his now too, let’s pit” then he is the goat. But that seems inexplicable—even if he did, its the guys on the wall watching the GPS and clocks who have to say, “terrible idea, Lewis, stay out.” What else are they up on that wall for?

    In the end, this is like a classic Button race. It begins saturday when he gets his normal ration of .2-.3s from Hamilton. Then, driving cleanly in the background of the lead battles, he optimizes the strategy to move forward.

  9. I had thought Lewis over-drove the tyres in what turned out to be his penultimate stint. However, comparing Buttons and Hamiltons stints, Lewis was consistently off the pace for the third stint. It seems he failed to get the tyres working, for whatever reason. To blame that on a bad strategy call by the team is simply incorrect in this instance.

    I can’t possibly understand why he was pitted for a fourth stop with just a handful of laps to go; did he complain about the tyres or did the team insist? Either way that call shouldn’t have been made.

    • Coefficient said on 11th April 2011, 10:32

      The call was made because Free Practice revealed to the team how many laps Hamilton can get out of the tyres before they “fall off the cliff”. You need to change the tyres the lap before that happens as when the tyres do “fall off the cliff” they don’t just lose a bit of perfomance, they lose 5 or 6 seconds a lap and that’s if you can keep hold of the car when the tyres are through to the canvas.

  10. tata said on 10th April 2011, 22:57

    let’s be real. the ferrari is better than the maccain race trim pace and almost as good as the red bull. alson has had bad luch at the end of the first corner of the first lap in both races and if it wasn’t because of the crash with hamilton he would have finished 2nd. the fast laps shows this ,he hasthe second fast lap of thrace in both of the races. they just need to sort out the qualifying. last but not least, it is not truth that they pitted too ealry as hamilton says, buttton by pitting early won alot if spots. the ferrari si thecar that takes care of the tires the most, they always pitted last amonth the top 3 cars. but thisis a disadvantae since the car that pit first is about 2-4 seconds faster per lap than the car that has the soft tires ofr say 10-12 laps.

    I SIAD IT HERE YESTERDAY< THE FERRARI IS BETTER THAN THE MACCA. MACCA fan is i was you I would be quite worried.

    • Coefficient said on 11th April 2011, 13:32

      Of course, it’s all clear now. That’s why Jenson Button finished his race 37 seconds before Massa and 57 seconds before Alonso, because the Ferrari is better than the Mclaren.

  11. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 10th April 2011, 23:33

    Ferrari is clearly not faster in race trim, and Alonso by no means would have finished ahead of Jenson if it hadn’t have been for the collision.

    May I remind you that at this point, Jenson was over 10 seconds ahead (I can’t remember the exact time), but Fernando wasn’t going to pull a second a lap on him and still keep his tyres fresh enough to overtake.

  12. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 11th April 2011, 3:25

    I blame his team when everyone stayed on & preserved their tyres cause they thought rain will come they changed for no reason.I was surprise that he couldn’t get pass Nick despite having DRS at the beginning.

  13. Leeh said on 11th April 2011, 9:50

    Come on guys you know it was an obvious that there was either a problem with the car or the last tyres where completely Shot when they where put on. Button pulled out about 10 sec on Ham within a few laps.

    I find it really funny how Mclaren can get strategy (and pits) so wrong for Ham and so right for Button. (seem to remember Button being about 30secs behind Ham at one point)

    Seems to me that Mclaren feel the need to overcompensate for Button because he is so much slower than Ham.

    • That’s a really funny post. :)

      If the last set of tyres were completely shot when they were put on, then whose fault is that? Whose fault is it that he had no more soft tyres left for the race?

      You will also have noticed that Button made adjustments to his car to compensate for tyre wear and balance issues. It was his decision to make those adjustments, which made the car better.

      Button is better able to set up the car for and during the race, even if it means compromising qualifying. Hamilton tends to try to drive around problems, but that’s not going to work on the Pirelli tyres.

      Hamilton looked completely clueless as to what the problem might have been when being interviewed.

      • Leeh said on 11th April 2011, 11:43

        I’ll admit that he needs to start making decisions himself about strategy and set up.

        He’s obviously putting too much trust in the team which he shouldn’t be doing since whitmarsh took over.

        And yes Button is clever but what a boring driver?? I only ever see him overtake during the pits? And also it doesn’t matter that Button can preserve his tyres better as he seems to find trouble getting heat into his tyres or finding the set up (well these are the excuses he uses in 90% of the races for being slower than Hamilton)

        • You win the championship in whatever way is best for you to do it. Boringly or otherwise. Not that I don’t think Button can’t overtake with the best of them, which indeed he can.

          Button shouldn’t have any problems getting heat into the Pirelli tyres. Massa and Schumacher also seem to be making better use of these tyres than they did with last seasons Bridgestones. Perhaps Hamilton is now getting too much heat into them?

  14. Coefficient said on 11th April 2011, 10:13

    Another problem was seeing Button ahead of him on strategy and Alonso in his mirrors rattled him and he lost composure which exacerbated the tyre problems as he began to over drive, killing the tyres even quicker.

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