Lewis Hamilton says maybe he wouldn’t have pitted if he were in George Russell’s position in F1 Singapore GP but defends his crash.
Mercedes took a bold step in F1 Singapore GP when they decided to pit both Russell and Hamilton under the Virtual Safety Car period. That stop meant both were left in the chase to catch Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Although they managed to get to them but eventually they missed out. On top of that, Russell crashed out on the final lap in a disaster with Hamilton ending up third. The Brit conceded risk in stopping and felt he wouldn’t have stopped if he were running second.
At the time of stopping, Russell was running second behind Sainz but gave up track position. “I mean, we needed to take the risk, have a shot at trying to get past some of these guys and going for the win,” said Hamilton. “I think we had really good pace. So I think the team did a great job.
“I don’t know, I think George was in second at the time, and maybe if I was in his position, I probably would have stayed out and at least kept the McLaren behind. But we gave it a shot. And it was really fun to be hunting these guys down. But as Lando said it was just too difficult to pass in the end.
“Based on our times, I think I was about a half-a-second a lap up. But I think it was just… It’s so difficult to overtake here, you need like, a second-and-a-half deficit to the car ahead. And what was really surprising is that the Hard hadn’t dropped off as much as we would have thought but also our tyres dropped off a lot in trying to catch up the huge gap that were behind,” summed up Hamilton.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff defended the pit call while also had no plans to swap Hamilton with Russell. “It was the absolute right call, we would have finished P2, P5 – maybe P2, P4, and we wanted to win the race,” he said. So we took the risk and I would every day of the week do it again.
“And no, we didn’t think to swap. I think both played for the victory and in that circumstance you just have to let them race and do this, fight it out between themselves,” summed up Wolff, as Hamilton came in defence of Russell for his late crash. The Brit recalled his barrier moment back in the day when talking about it.
“We’re all trying to be millimetre-perfect out there and it’s very, very easy to make mistakes, it’s very easy too for any us to have been in the position that George was in,” said Hamilton. “He’s been driving phenomenally all weekend, so it was really unfortunate for him – last lap – to finish that way.
“But he continues to grow, he’s continuing to improve so I know that he’s going to keep getting stronger and faster and if there’s any way I can help, I will be a part of that naturally in the next couple of years. But yeah, I have a lot of experience, I’ve been here a long time so putting together a race is… not that it’s easy but the race is where I’m most comfortable on track.
“And yeah, I think it’s just keeping your head down, it’s trying not to make… but if you look at last year for example, I made a mistake in Turn Seven and went off and crashed into the wall so it can happen to any one of us and it’s just one of those things,” summed up Hamilton, who gained after his teammate’s crash.
It was a return on the podium for Hamilton since Silverstone, but several fans spotted a peculiar thing. The TV crew did not spot or show the Mercedes crew under the podium which was raised by the fans on social media prompting Mercedes to respond.
“Once again I am going to have to disagree a little bit with the premise of the question,” said James Allison when asked on why the Mercedes crew did not celebrate Hamilton’s podium. “Of course the team was there at the podium to celebrate with Lewis. As many of the team as it was practical to get to the podium were there because we enjoy it.
“We love standing there and clapping and cheering for our driver. Necessarily a certain amount of the team had to stay in the garage during that event because we needed to receive George’s car back from the marshals who were bringing it back into the pit lane. But the rest of the team were all down at the podium and cheering along with everyone else, but the cameras do not show everything and the big story there was of course the first win this year for a non-Red Bull team.
“So showing all of the overjoyed Ferrari faces was very high up the list of things that made for good TV and indeed the pleasure from the McLaren folk as well. There was a very significant number of all teams down there at the podium ceremony, we were a big part of it but not maybe where the camera lighted during the podium celebrations.”
Here’s George Russell on his disappointment
Here’s Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris working together in Singapore