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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Hamilton urges better communication after Bahrain "no man's land"

Lewis Hamilton says that Mercedes has to work on improving in-race communication with its Formula 1 drivers on the back of two frustrating races in Melbourne and Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ on the grid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
The Mercedes pit crew watch anxiously in the closing stages of the race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, in the drivers parade
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1

Hamilton lost the Australian GP due to a miscalculation on how much of a gap he needed to have to Sebastian Vettel, and then in Bahrain found himself in what he called “no man’s land” as he tried to comprehend what was happening in the race, and how hard he had to push at any given time.

Matters were complicated by Mercedes assuming that Vettel would stop a second time before coming to realise that he might not, and also by problems with Hamilton’s microphone, which meant that the pitwall could not always hear what he was saying.

“It was just difficult to know how hard to lean on the tyres in the early phases,” Hamilton explained. “Because at one point I understood that the [Ferrari] guys were doing two stops, and there’s no way they’re going to get to the end on the one stop.

"And I’ve got to save tyres so that when we’re at the end and he catches me I can still fight.

“Or I’ve got to catch him while the tyres are still good and close the gap to the best of my ability, because they’re doing a one-stop. I didn’t have that information, so there was lots of driving around in no man’s land for a while. But that’s just something we need to work on.

“The radio wasn’t working properly, and in the heat of the moment it’s difficult to know what information you need to give.

“They couldn’t hear me. I could hear them, but they were always coming back saying 'I can’t hear you'. And when you’re trying to give feedback out of a corner, you’re taking your mind off driving the perfect line.”

Hamilton said the team would be reviewing his communications with race engineer Peter Bonnington, while stressing how busy races can be for the guys in the hot seats on the pitwall.

“We’re going to sit down and discuss the last two races. Different drivers like different feedback. I don’t have a ton. There are times you need more.

“If you haven’t spoken about it and set up a strategy to action what you need, the guys are stressed in the garage because they have messages from the pitwall, messages coming from both sides, it’s stressful for someone like ‘Bono’ – and then I come in.

“We’re going to sit down and discuss it and try to work on the points and improve, and I have no doubt we will.

"I don’t want them to talk to me all the time when they don’t need to. It’s just working out a rapport that works best. It’s even more important that it’s precise information.”

Hamilton admitted that the battle with Ferrari is so close that there is no margin for error.

“It’s very marginal now, so it really highlights or magnifies the importance of communications and these small little things that can make a difference of seven points or not. If you look at the last race, we should have won that race.

“And through struggling to understand how we operate, communicate, we did lose the race. I think looking back there were things we could have done to make sure we came out ahead. And then I’m not sure how it was for Valtteri [Bottas], I think it was not ideal for him either.

“These races we can’t afford to be losing to Ferrari. And so we need to get ourselves in a place where we’re not only strong in our operations in the car, but also in the race."

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