No heads to roll after Hamilton strategy howler

Mon, 25 May 2015, 09:35

May 25 (GMM) No heads will roll after the catastrophic team error that cost Lewis Hamilton an easy win in Monaco.

But that doesn’t mean an exhaustive post-race investigation, prompted immediately by furious Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda on Sunday, has not already found some heads to at least point at.

“Our chief strategist James Vowles has admitted that he make a mistake. And we all make them,” the F1 legend is quoted by the German newspaper Bild.

Lauda said Mercedes needs to tidy up its procedures so that better decisions are taken in moments of confusion.

“I always listen on the radio, and I have already warned that because so many are talking, there needs to be someone making a decision when all the strategists are talking it to death.

“To me that is Paddy Lowe,” said the great Austrian.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene says his own strategists did not consider making a similar decision to pit Sebastian Vettel in the safety car period.

“When I saw him (Hamilton) coming in, I said ‘caspita’ — that’s exactly what I said,” he revealed, using the word that translates in English as ‘Wow!’ or ‘Gosh!’

“We thought they were doing a bit of theatre or something but this was an ‘arroganti’. But when you think you are intelligent, people forget to be smart,” Arrivabene added.

Ultimately, the bizarre decision to pit Hamilton on Sunday was probably due more to confusion than arrogance.

“The team said to stay out,” the gutted Hamilton revealed afterwards. “I said ‘These tyres are going to drop in temperature’ so they said to pit.

“Without thinking I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same.”

Drivers had been complaining about Pirelli’s supposedly ‘soft’ tyres all weekend, and were particularly nervous when the safety car was deployed for the Max Verstappen crash.

“They (the tyres) were stone cold,” admitted race winner Nico Rosberg.

Team boss Toto Wolff also explained that strategists were thrown by the lack of normal GPS positioning data in Monaco.

“In Monaco there is no GPS,” he said, “which makes the whole job even more difficult.”

But FIA race director Charlie Whiting told Auto Motor und Sport that is not right. “The teams work here with a replacement system, based on our 20 induction loops around the circuit,” he said.

Wolff said Mercedes was also caught off guard by the new ‘virtual safety car’ innovation that morphed into a real safety car period, and said the team’s computer “algorithms” therefore got the sums wrong.

“It would be completely wrong to start firing people or looking for the guilty faces in the crowd,” said the Austrian.

Also wrong, said Wolff, is for the media and fans to start launching conspiracy theories — like Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, who was in the garage, preferred to see fellow German Rosberg win.

“You can believe me,” Wolff insisted, “Mr Zetsche was very unhappy with this particular situation.”

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