Why Mercedes left Hamilton out for an extra lap

2015 Austrian Grand Prix lap charts

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Lewis Hamilton’s best chance to reclaim the lead he lost to Nico Rosberg during the Austrian Grand Prix came when they made their single pit stops during the middle of the race.

But Hamilton was disappointed when he returned to the track after his pit stop and saw Rosberg was even further up the road.

“How did he get so far ahead?” questioned Hamilton on the radio. “That tyre’s faster, mate, straight out of the box,” race engineer Peter Bonnington answered.

This is the familiar phenomenon of the ‘undercut’ where the first driver onto a fresher set of tyres gets a performance advantage. Given that, Hamilton was also surprised to have been left out for an extra lap after Rosberg’s pit stop.

“What’s the reason you didn’t pit me?,” Hamilton asked next. Bonnington’s reply was that Felipe Massa was “trafficking Nico but boxed just before he caught him”.

The race chart below sheds more light on the situation. Rosberg had come out of the pits behind Massa’s third-placed Williams and would have caught him, potentially losing time. It therefore made sense to keep Hamilton out.

But Massa headed for the pits on the very next lap – as he did so, Rosberg reached the finishing line first, and so he did not officially spend a lap behind the Williams. The upshot was Hamilton, who had reduced Rosberg’s lead from four seconds to less than three before they pitted, was over four-and-a-half seconds behind after they pitted.

Hamilton hasn’t had much luck when trying to ‘overcut’ Rosberg in the past. The team tried to do the same in Brazil last year but Hamilton spun on his in-lap and, like to day, had to settle for second.

However on this occasion it may not have made a difference: Hamilton crossed the pit lane exit line as he returned to the pits, earning a five-second time penalty. Even if he had left the pits in front of Rosberg, he would have had to pull five seconds clear of his team mate in order to win the race.

2015 Austrian Grand Prix lap chart

The positions of each driver on every lap. Use the controls below to show/hide different drivers:


Lewis Hamilton122222222222222222222222222222222111322222222222222222222222222222222222
Nico Rosberg211111111111111111111111111111111233211111111111111111111111111111111111
Sebastian Vettel333333333333333333333333333333333322144444444444444444444444444444444444
Felipe Massa444444444444444444444444444444444444433333333333333333333333333333333333
Nico Hulkenberg555555555555555555555555569777777778876666666666666666666666666666666666
Valtteri Bottas677777777777777666666666655888888887765555555555555555555555555555555555
Max Verstappen7666666666666667777777777761111101010101010101010977777777777777777777777777777788
Felipe Nasr8888888888888888888888881013131313131313131313121212111010101010101011111111111010101010101010101111111111111111111111
Romain Grosjean91010101010101111111111111111111111111111111112141412121212121111111113
Pastor Maldonado101212121212121212121212121212121212121212121211111086666666666812119999999999888888888888888888877
Marcus Ericsson11141417161616161615151515161616161616161616161616161616161616161616151413131313131313131313131313131313131313131313131313131313131313131313
Carlos Sainz Jnr12999999999999999999999998914141414141414141415
Sergio Perez13111111111111101010101010101010101010101010101098755555555555712121212111111101010101099999999999999999999
Kimi Raikkonen14
Daniil Kvyat151317151515151514141414141414141414141414141414131211101011111212121211111110911111112121212121212121212121212121212121212121212121212121212
Roberto Merhi161513131313131415161616161515151515151515151515151515151515151515151616141414141414141414141414141414141414141414141414141414141414141414
Will Stevens1718
Daniel Ricciardo1816151414141413131313131313131313131313131313131211109999999999988888888888891111111111111111111010101010101010101010
Fernando Alonso19
Jenson Button201716161717171717

2015 Austrian Grand Prix race chart

The gaps between each driver on every lap. Use the controls below to show/hide different drivers:


Lewis Hamilton0.8651.9291.3050.9560.8050.6731.5061.5731.9782.3212.4062.132.0071.9021.8431.7191.8061.8391.9832.4012.6142.8752.9144.0714.2873.9963.8413.5473.2263.2382.7612.210005.9374.6045.3235.4545.6475.9256.3486.1266.4716.7897.0337.0166.5646.7476.4986.4246.5096.3076.2086.0665.9916.4776.3996.3736.0845.6885.1995.0555.4145.2824.9854.6494.5474.2382.2453.8
Nico Rosberg000000000000000000000000000000002.04419.20214.4731.63800000000000000000000000000000000000
Sebastian Vettel2.453.0262.2892.3362.1911.2972.9133.5724.3624.8395.4935.8066.1386.46.9247.1917.5487.8938.2388.9229.61410.1610.4611.25911.81411.98812.16612.29412.44812.57812.40912.4110.27510.6117.541026.226.80926.95826.88326.63126.46425.97825.48625.61425.5825.63625.41325.91125.48924.7224.71824.66524.67224.62924.43924.32724.06224.08924.00523.74423.32322.92722.53822.24821.73221.74221.37820.6318.58718.181
Felipe Massa3.4754.1983.0953.2172.9971.7423.8374.6465.6696.5087.3797.8138.4548.9859.37910.02910.47610.93411.61712.41613.21314.0514.42515.05715.90215.73216.30416.52616.88317.46117.72418.2116.86421.47336.07423.77922.26522.56122.85922.65222.50422.35222.0322.00822.40422.52222.93522.92223.18523.07322.37122.54422.56322.25422.53122.39922.41722.122.26222.28422.62122.27122.0321.73521.54121.24421.28220.86719.9917.93617.573
Nico Hulkenberg5.0655.0194.3924.0514.2472.1114.3025.2936.6377.7438.8899.60110.43611.47212.25112.9414.04115.09116.09417.0718.30719.61720.922.52828.02144.71544.83644.60444.69644.70144.55144.4642.52743.7442.26132.24733.08634.48936.18637.30238.41539.8840.64741.53342.9244.26445.34746.24247.57648.22348.45249.74250.73251.53552.654.09455.35556.68157.74458.67559.41559.70960.26161.07161.96962.30962.63863.44263.87462.77564.075
Valtteri Bottas6.7557.8186.2566.8595.8862.7375.5467.2168.1869.24710.69311.62212.40513.44414.48515.09916.05616.96118.11419.02420.18321.02521.97923.14623.59926.53345.83445.98646.19945.99745.70245.37643.26644.11241.54631.65831.40434.02335.45236.22437.26538.01638.55139.06640.51342.16142.9143.32544.02644.0543.85544.29344.60945.50846.11946.60747.32747.76948.56449.25449.87250.06950.59151.43252.3152.72452.98753.78354.10552.68753.604
Max Verstappen5.9296.3485.5166.2364.9282.444.8896.1457.38.5239.61310.60511.57912.82415.38616.62618.00119.02620.67222.2323.46924.77226.08227.89529.40533.43453.11254.13454.98855.49555.53455.58753.71654.46151.69540.42840.09942.05643.38444.58245.6746.88547.77848.88250.51351.96553.00853.97255.20855.67256.42757.44658.19559.17160.03960.82761.68862.46763.75665.02765.89166.13866.5366.95167.68968.82569.83470.78474.58274.695
Felipe Nasr7.948.9617.1188.6847.1812.9385.9817.999.48811.14113.07714.09715.20216.27517.63518.82920.53921.91723.36724.81226.38927.96429.47136.08956.67758.46759.39660.06160.90161.3261.72362.34861.03962.48960.43649.97850.17352.80355.29157.92259.99561.8563.24964.65566.8270.01973.15374.93276.90978.61980.74382.67883.8484.91486.42287.69989.08290.25491.67294.34497.82699.157100.696102.429104.73106.463108.418110.524111.731112.796
Romain Grosjean9.83711.43210.2211.5539.1163.6047.7499.68911.95313.47515.51417.48319.09520.17921.48822.89524.71526.07327.67429.13730.63832.11636.77856.13157.14457.33857.60757.6958.00858.12458.30458.71856.66557.00383.357
Pastor Maldonado11.72912.77311.76313.31111.3954.38.2110.53712.79914.87816.95818.51720.05521.18422.50623.77525.27327.02228.55230.32931.78633.15134.61736.26338.03938.71939.76340.46441.37841.96442.58343.0742.02643.15141.24531.45435.50753.84755.5855.6456.0256.48357.03457.65159.4160.15360.68861.13162.96463.65663.31563.77463.98764.09964.37764.44964.57764.43265.19265.66166.48766.67967.14768.05568.34969.42170.5671.02574.55673.802
Marcus Ericsson12.81113.81416.1117.83715.956.5210.45114.69918.30721.66724.6331.28746.65548.88551.09953.21955.25457.46860.25984.79590.17492.5896.79899.239101.265103.383105.047106.662108.109109.306110.472111.501111.509114.466112.928102.794103.111104.992106.984108.897112.778114.862116.687132.27139.588160.974162.434162.939164.207165.94167.796170.134170.884171.443172.243172.943174.073175.212176.267177.563178.732179.444180.563181.879183.33184.374185.85187.62191.298
Carlos Sainz Jnr9.2969.5328.26710.6578.0523.3156.6318.56410.28611.72113.72715.01416.35517.6518.97920.32921.7522.94124.5526.30727.55628.8630.35732.74437.11861.07661.66761.95362.66468.96678.68487.78196.55106.418121.215
Sergio Perez10.99412.21411.09812.08410.4443.9877.4399.38511.27613.11615.09816.62418.23919.66921.11922.5724.2425.76627.19328.70630.2131.60933.07535.06136.65737.32838.39939.31240.22840.76541.6542.30340.95542.19840.90130.42830.67436.77860.75161.17361.59463.17564.1165.22767.15768.61769.54570.0871.09173.27773.66674.62675.05575.63376.53877.39580.5280.96782.03482.84283.57783.95385.07386.36787.68388.64789.3689.75990.02488.975
Kimi Raikkonen
Daniil Kvyat12.25217.44914.97916.38414.7055.4529.80912.49115.14817.51720.78423.1725.59327.58329.46231.62334.33536.42938.640.56542.44544.38846.18848.18949.90850.77452.69553.78556.20157.59859.79761.08460.17261.82259.49848.71649.40152.19454.64658.460.68962.95865.56767.51874.23993.96696.52398.40599.22699.62699.776100.291100.67100.985101.785102.434103.374104.039105.013106.252107.311108.16109.202110.804112.77114.055115.191116.044116.839119.366
Roberto Merhi13.40713.34412.40913.8812.184.9119.58313.86119.56924.08928.56132.59637.6141.23845.01948.73252.16755.68459.33764.51868.17171.82277.23281.14884.62988.68192.75295.90999.05102.097105.452109.684111.143119.313140.01131.233132.914136.401140.3143.191147.578151.767154.986158.335162.343165.698172.262175.223178.645181.311184.854188.631193.017196.165200.921204.314209.774212.783217.742222.658226.25229.339234.136239.573244.018247.056249.842252.753
Will Stevens16.857
Daniel Ricciardo14.88915.44213.97315.49413.2695.0158.90211.39613.86616.27618.49520.44922.38724.46426.36328.08530.20232.13434.1736.13237.93239.88841.64543.77845.27646.20847.59848.57549.82150.80751.65752.41151.09652.27149.81939.01739.34741.59144.2346.21247.90849.60551.05352.77955.04556.83558.5260.19662.66468.52392.25292.44692.11491.89291.87591.80191.84991.75792.28192.88192.87692.31996.06596.14996.22996.05195.55695.12294.24792.019
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button15.77616.66715.24418.76717.3389.69437.29182.717

2015 Austrian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Why Mercedes left Hamilton out for an extra lap”

  1. Why was Ericsson so bad? He should probably compete in Manor championship.

    1. He had a drive-through for jumping the start and had to do CTRL+ALT DEL on the pit straight.

  2. It seems Mercedes aren’t so forgiving to Lewis when the tables are turned.

  3. Mr win or lose
    21st June 2015, 17:19

    After 5 years of Pirelli tyres Hamilton is still unaware of the fact that fresh tyres have more grip than used tyres.

    The main advantage of an ‘overcut’ is to have better tyres at the end of the race. As Mercedes pits the first driver first, the only way for Hamilton to beat Rosberg was to pit significantly later and hope that his performance advantage would be big enough to close the gap and attack at the end of the race.

    1. You should apply for a job at Merc.

    2. The tires don’t always switch on right away, sometimes they take 2-3 laps to get up to full temperature.

    3. You don’t think a two time world champion knows that ???
      It was the team who made him stay out, he didn’t have the choice of the undercut.

      1. Mr win or lose
        21st June 2015, 21:01

        That’s why I was surprised that he was surprised…
        Mercedes never allows their 2nd-placed driver to undercut his teammate, so Hamilton was always going to stay out longer, but that doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.

        1. Lewis always thinks everyone is against him – he has the biggest victim mentality since Senna

          1. this… a thousand times this.

          2. Agreed, with a minor clarification that it seemed Senna actually did have people out to get him.

        2. Ryan (@ryanisjones)
          22nd June 2015, 14:29

          I don’t think you understand. They made him stay out an extra lap which is “not” normal, hence him seeking clarification as to why? This has nothing to do with a victim mentality, it is a reasonable question to ask, as he would have had no idea why they were doing it. Furthermore he lost time to Rosberg because of it, hence it was the wrong move – even more reason for him to question it.

          They explained that they did it, because they thought he would be quicker on the older tyres whilst Rosberg would loose time behind Massa, who had yet to pit. Massa then pitted causing Rosberg to loose no time and, thus Hamilton lost more time comparatively. Staying out 1 more lap (not normal procedure) ended up being a “significant” disadvantage for Hamilton

  4. Who’s saying Hamilton should have got the undercut? Nobody. The question is why wasn’t Hamilton pitted the lap after Rosberg when it was clear to see the softs were switching on immediately, the Massa excuse doesnt make sense at all and seems very fishy indeed to me…

    1. Ah come on, just stop it, conspiracies are just plain silly.

  5. I perfectly know that Hamilton is by far the most popular driver from the current ones, and by that there is the need of the media to center their attentions on him.. However, what I don´t understand is why there must be always some kind of excuse to why he loses or to why things go wrong?

    The incredible amount of topics about Hamilton anytime he loses, or when anything happens to him is just overwhelming.. Even Rosberg´s “day” – today or even in spain – seem to be obfuscated by anything related to Hamilton that in some way goes as an excuse for a bad result..

    He is good, real good, however it seems everyone wants to make him even better, seasoning any kind of race event with anytime he goes for a bad result..

    I have a bad opinion of such thing, because it seems that Rosberg´s results come not by his own merit, and were only possible by a bad performance from Hamilton, using any kind of excuse to such..

  6. No excuses given but give the man a fair shot at the win, pitting him 2 laps later instead of the usual one blew his only chance at getting past Rosberg, I wouldn’t be happy with the team at all if I was Hamilton.

    1. It is the same story when HAM is out front and ROS is whinging about anything to get him ahead. The simple answer is that with the current spec of F1, once a car is out front it is impossible to catch the same car on virtually the same strategy (give or take a few laps for a pitstop). Merc gave HAM the only chance he had, but Massa pitted so he really had no chance. And- if somehow it did work out that he got in front of ROS, his penalty would surely have put him back behind afterward anyway.

    2. I saw Massa too and i thought “Hey Rosberg may lose time behind that guy” the same as Hamilton’s engineer.
      In the end Massa pitted and Rosberg got a little lucky on that, but that is racing.
      Even if Hamilton went in the pits only after one lap Rosberg will probably still be ahead so betting on Massa was probably the best chance he could have.
      So i do not believe the team didn’t try to give him a chance to fight. In general. Rosberg seem to had found a better set-up for his car or maybe Austria suits him better or something but except that qualy lap Hamilton didn’t seem to have his usual speed compared to Rosberg.
      I’m a Ham fan but what is fair is fair.

Comments are closed.