'Isn't true': Lewis Hamilton's public denial of ugly Mercedes claims

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Lewis Hamilton says his terse responses on team radio during the Turkish GP were simply down to being in the 'heat of the moment' behind the wheel. (Photo by YURI KOCHETKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton says his terse responses on team radio during the Turkish GP were simply down to being in the 'heat of the moment' behind the wheel. (Photo by YURI KOCHETKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton has defended his reaction to Mercedes' failed tyre strategy during the Turkish GP, saying his abrupt tone with the team was part of being in the 'heat of the moment'.

During a rain-affected race at Istanbul Park last weekend, Hamilton started 11th despite setting the fastest time in qualifying due to a grid penalty for replacing certain parts of the power unit.

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The seven-time champion had managed to work his way up to third thanks to some brilliant overtakes and others pitting for fresh rubber ahead of him.

Mercedes instructed Hamilton to put on lap 42, which he refused to do, believing his tyres could make it to the end of the race.

He knocked back a second call to pit, still hoping he could get to the last lap with a podium in hand.

It wasn't until lap 50 of 58 that Hamilton eventually relented and came in to the pits, dropping him from 3rd to 5th and leaving him struggling on cold intermediate tyres in the dying laps.

“Why did you give up that place?” Hamilton said after the stop. 

“We shouldn’t have come in. I told you!”

Mercedes were undoubtedly in a difficult position, but given race leader and teammate Valtteri Bottas pitted early, followed by second placed Max Verstappen, it was clear that their strategy was the winning one.

Only one driver completed the race without changing tyres, with Alpine's Esteban Ocon lapping substantially slower than the rest of the field for the final laps to finish 10th.

In a post on his Instagram page, Hamilton said there would always be times he was short with the team over the radio, but that it was a stretch to say he was 'furious' at the team over the strategy miscue.

“It isn’t true to say I’m furious with my team," he said.

"“As a team we work hard to build the best strategy possible but as the race progresses you have to make split decisions there are so many factors constantly changing.

“Yesterday we took the risk to stay out hoping it would dry, it didn’t.

“I wanted to risk it and try and go to the end, but it was my call to stay out and it didn’t work.

“In the end we did pit and it was the safest thing to do.

“We live and we learn. We win and we lose as a team. Don’t ever expect me to be all polite and calm on the radio when I’m racing, we are all very passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers."

Mercedes work through fallout Hamilton's strategy error

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted his team botched Hamilton's strategy, but feared leaving him out on worn rubber could drop him dramatically down the order, even out of the race.

Could it be a decision which will cost Hamilton dearly in this ferocious title battle?

"Time will tell," said Hamilton. "If I'd stayed out, we don't know if I would have held position, but I'm a risk taker so I wanted to take that risk.

"It was frustrating at the time because I could see second and all of a sudden I'm back in fifth.

"It's hard to give something up when you don't have the full picture. You have to rely on your team and accept the choices they make and hope they're the right ones. I've just got to try not to drop more points."

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton blamed his team for a strategy call that cost him third place in the Turkish GP. (Photo by Umit Bektas - Pool/Getty Images)
Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton blamed his team for a strategy call that cost him third place in the Turkish GP. (Photo by Umit Bektas - Pool/Getty Images)

Hamilton had qualified fastest but was thrown back 10 places after incurring a grid penalty for taking on his fourth engine of the campaign.

The world champion hoped it would rain, and his wishes were answered with persistent drizzle in the hours before creating a damp track.

Hamilton next heads to the US Grand Prix in Austin - a race he has won in five of his eight appearances - hopeful of regaining the championship lead with just six rounds remaining.

Ricciardo started in 20th position at the back of the grid, having taken a new internal combustion engine, turbo and MGU-H aboard his McLaren, but ended up picking up seven places while his teammate Lando Norris finished seventh.

With AAP

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