LEWIS HAMILTON almost caused a ‘disaster’ by resisting Mercedes’ instruction to pit in Turkish Grand Prix, according to Ross Brawn.
F1 managing director Brawn, 66, has claimed that Hamilton was running a huge risk by ignoring his Mercedes teammates’ advice to change tyres in Istanbul on Sunday.
Hamilton is battling neck and neck with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the Drivers’ Championship this seasonCredit: PA
Hamilton, 36, was already up against it after receiving a ten-place grid penalty as punishment for his fourth engine change of the season, when drivers are only permitted three.
This meant the seven-time world champion started the race in eleventh, despite qualifying on pole, way behind championship rival Max Verstappen in second.
The Brit worked incredibly hard to climb from eleventh to fourth and was battling for third with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez when he was advised to box in order to change tyres.
Hamilton had completed more than two-thirds of the race with the same set of tyres and made it clear that he felt completing the race without pitting was the best strategy.
Brawn, however, suggests in his F1.com column that this could have been catastrophic for Hamilton and Mercedes. He said: “The driver is in a bubble. They need to give you information, but what they can’t see is all the data being fed to the pit wall.
“In Lewis’ case if he didn’t box and the tyres had gone away or there had been a light rain shower, he would have tumbled down the order and that would have been a disaster.”
The same thing happened to Lando Norris at the Russian Grand Prix, who was on course to win his first F1 race when rain began to fall and most other drivers, including Hamilton, pitted for intermediate tyres.
Norris, who decided to stay out on the track, lost all traction and aquaplaned badly on lap 51 and then again trying as he entered the pit lane to change tyres.
This error of judgement meant he was overtaken by Hamilton, who went on to win the race, with Norris ultimately finishing seventh.
Hamilton and Mercedes got it spot on in Sochi, but his resistance to his team’s advice in Istanbul almost cost him dearly and allowed Verstappen to regain the championship lead by six points.
Regarding these tough calls, Brawn added: “Once again teams were faced with a very difficult strategic decision.
“In these scenarios, you’re trusting your judgment, experience and feel. As we saw with Lewis, there was a fair bit of initial resistance from within the car about pitting.
“When these situations are not clear-cut and you get a push back from the driver, it’s easy for a team to back off what they feel was the right decision.”
Hamilton has since admitted he got it wrong in Turkey, but blamed the heat of the moment for his outburst over the radio. He raged: “Why did you give up that place? We shouldn’t have come in. I told you.”
In his post-race interview, Hamilton cooled down and said: “I wasn’t really that fast at the end there. I was struggling, had low grip, not really sure why, but then all of a sudden I’d have not such bad pace. But I was losing performance to the guys behind.
“I think probably in hindsight I should have stayed out or come in much earlier because when you come in with eight laps to go you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that medium (intermediate) tyre on a drying track, so then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions.”
The world champion cannot afford to slip up again in the final six races of the season if he hopes to beat close rival Max Verstappen to win his eighth F1 title.
Hamilton has won the F1 Drivers’ Championship in six of his eight seasons with MercedesCredit: Splash