Lewis Hamilton has passionately denied being furious with his Mercedes team for a poorly-timed pit stop that resulted in him finishing fifth at the Turkish Grand Prix.
The Brit was asked to come into the pit lane on lap 42 of Sunday’s race, but refused because he disagreed with Mercedes’ belief that he needed new intermediate tyres.
Hamilton, who had managed to work his way up from 11th to third, eventually came into pit on lap 50 but dropped two places to fifth with just eight laps to go, which allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake him at the top of the F1 rankings.
Lewis Hamilton has denied being furious with his Mercedes team at the Turkish Grand Prix
Hamilton came in for a pit stop with eight laps to go and dropped two places to fifth place
After coming out of the pit lane, Hamilton swore at his Mercedes team on the radio, saying: ‘F***, man, why did you give up that space?’. The seven-time Formula One champion also told his pit wall to ‘leave me alone’ when the race had ended.
Hamilton put up a statement on Monday insisting he was not furious with Mercedes
But Hamilton insisted in a social media post on Monday morning that he was not angry at his team, despite his expletive-laden rant at them.
‘Good morning world,’ the post began. ‘I’ve seen some of the press this morning which has made a bit too much of the incident in yesterday’s race of when to pit. It isn’t true to say I’m furious with my team.
‘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.
‘(On Sunday) we took the risk to stay out hoping it would dry, it didn’t. I wanted to risk it to 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 learn. We win and 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 passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers.
‘My heart and spirit are out there on the track, it’s the fire within me that got me this far but any angst is quickly forgotten and we talked it through, already looking ahead to the next race.
‘Today’s another day to rise and as a team. Still we rise.’
Hamilton swore at his team on the team radio and told his pit wall to ‘leave me alone’ post-race
Hamilton first received the call over the Mercedes radio to come in on lap 42, with his team believing that new tyres were needed to finish the race.
‘Box. Box’ came the race engineer Peter Bonnington’s cry over the radio and when Hamilton asked why, the response he received was: ‘New inters are the way to go.’
‘I don’t think it is man,’ said Hamilton. ‘It feels like we should stay out, man.’
Bonnington replied: ‘We will stay out one more lap to give us a bit more thinking time.’
Hamilton eventually came back in eight laps later and was sitting in third place, though he was dropping further behind Verstappen in second place.
The Mercedes man’s fifth-placed finish means he is behind Max Verstappen in the F1 title race
The Mercedes driver came out of the pit lane in fifth, after Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc had overtaken him, with sixth-place Pierre Gasly making up 20 seconds on Hamilton too.
Hamilton cried: ‘F*** man, why did you give up that space?’
Bonnington replied: ‘It looked like we were going to lose position anyway.’
Hamilton, his anger rising, said: ‘What position am I in, man?’
‘We shouldn’t have come in, man,’ Hamilton roared down the radio. ‘We have got massive graining (on the new tyres). I TOLD YOU!’
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff claimed Hamilton (middle) should have come out at lap 42
Bonnington said: ‘Copy, Lewis, we were losing time to Perez but we will chat about it later.’
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff admitted that Hamilton should have come in as early as possible and that the pit stop was needed because would have finished behind Gasly in sixth without it.
Asked why Mercedes asked Hamilton to come in to pit at lap 42, Wolff told Sky Sports: ‘We thought we could finish third without stopping or, if a dry line emerged, maybe going to a soft tyre.
‘Then we saw Leclerc dropping off and Lewis was dropping off and it was clear we wouldn’t make it to the end.’
Wolff admits that Mercedes and Hamilton would have been better off coming out even earlier
When asked whether Hamilton should have come in when they asked him to, Wolff added: ‘That would have been better than what we ended up with. But it was measured and in the car, he didn’t see how much he was dropping off. It was clear that had he stayed out then he would have lost out to Gasly.
‘The correct call would probably have been taking it very conservative and pitting when everybody else pitted for the inters, coming out behind Perez and Leclerc and fighting with them for P3. That was probably correct, but that is only with hindsight.’
Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix result, which saw Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finish in first, means Hamilton is now six points behind Verstappen at the top of the F1 overall standings.
Hamilton and Verstappen will resume their rivalry in a fortnight’s time when they travel to Austin for the United States Grand Prix, with four more meets in Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to come.