F1: Mercedes should have pitted Hamilton earlier, says Wolff

Lewis Hamilton pits during the Brazilian Grand Prix on Nov. 9, 2014.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the team made the wrong call when Lewis Hamilton was told to stay out before his second pit stop in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton was originally told to come in a lap after Nico Rosberg, and he looked set to take the lead – but he was so fast that he was then requested to do an extra lap. However he had taken so much performance out of the tires that he spun.

“He got the call ‘Hammer Time,’ and he really squeezed all the performance out of the car,” said Wolff. “Because he was so quick and did purple sector times that stint was extended by another lap. You could see that he lost the car on entry, with a little snap, but there was no way of recovering because the tires were just completely gone on the rear.

“We have to analyze why. Probably when the tires are so much over the edge, like they have been, even though you extract so much performance out of that lap before. In hindsight we should have pitted him, but that was the only thing which you could pick out of the day’s performance and say it wasn’t perfect.”

Lewis Hamilton says he blames himself for the spin that cost him victory in Brazil, despite it resulting from a team strategy call.

Lewis thought he was on his in-lap after Nico Rosberg and thus took everything he could pout of the tires, only to be told he should run another lap. He spun at Turn 4, losing around seven seconds.

Although he got back on Nico’s gearbox he did not have the momentum with which to pass, and had to settle for runner-up spot. The result does at least mean he can clinch the title should a ROS-HAM result be repeated in Abu Dhabi.

“I think ultimately it cost me the win,” he said. “I mean, I was much quicker up until that point and on that lap I’d gone a second quicker whilst Nico pitted, and I thought I was going to pit at the end of that lap so I used everything of the tires. The next lap, I had nothing left. Either way, at the end of the day, I made a mistake, I locked the rears into Turn Four and with the under-rotation, just spun me around. Second time it’s happened this weekend. So, no one’s fault but mine.

Lewis Hamilton replicated this spin from free practice during the race, essentially costing him the lead and the win.

“Still, great result for the team. Nico drove really well, great, defensive, no mistakes and ultimately we got a one-two. I really was pushing right to the checkered flag, which is what motor racing’s all about. So I really enjoyed it.

“Overall, I’m really happy. I came back, I clearly had a lot more pace than Nico today. I know that he would have seen that, obviously, by closing down the seven seconds [gap], but he did a good job to not make any mistakes while I was there, so I’m looking forward to the next race.

Asked why he lost time to Nico in the middle sector he said: “In the middle sector it’s all downforce. Due to being right behind him, I couldn’t get the exit of Turn Nine so I would lose out through that middle sector and I couldn’t stay close in the last sector. Obviously if I was in clean air it would be different.”