Lewis Hamilton: “The only option was to stay out as long as possible“

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

After losing P1 to Max Verstappen on the penultimate lap of the French Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton defends Mercedes’ strategy.

When Max Verstappen went in for his second pit stop, Mercedes made a strategy call to keep Lewis Hamilton on a one-stop strategy and hope that his worn down hard tyres would last long enough for him to keep the Dutch driver behind.

Unfortunately it didn’t work and Verstappen passed Hamilton on fresher medium tyres on the penultimate lap of the race.

Many are now criticising Mercedes saying that they should have called Hamilton in for a second pit stop, but the Briton says this was not an option.

“He was already quite far ahead, so the only option I really had was to stay out,” Hamilton said.

“Otherwise again, he was undercutting me , so he would just come out ahead and I wouldn’t be able to pace as they are too quick on the straights.

“So, the only option was to stay out as long as possible and hope that the tyres held together.”

With Verstappen now 12 points ahead of him in the drivers’ championship standings, Lewis says Mercedes will have to find more pace.

“We’ve got to find some pace, that’s for sure. You can see most of the time we lost today was just on the straights.

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“So we’ve got to definitely dig deep, try to figure out why that is, whether it’s power or drag. But we’ve still got a good package.”

At the beginning of the race Lewis managed to pass Verstappen to take the lead, but lost the position after Red Bull managed to pull off a successful undercut on Max’s first pit stop. Lewis says he is still not sure how that happened.

“We didn’t know how strong that was going to be or not, but what was really surprising was to run out of that front tyre early on.

“But obviously they had a good strategy and it worked really well today. Congrats to Max, he did a great job today.

“They just had the better straight [line speed] all weekend, and I think just considering that we had such a difficult Friday, I’m really happy with today’s result.

“Of course we didn’t win, and we were in the lead, but I had no tyres left at the end, so yeah unfortunately lost the position.

“But still it was a good race,” concluded the seven-time champion.

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