Mercedes has "thick skin" to handle Hamilton's radio frustration

Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ pitwall has a “thick enough skin” to understand Lewis Hamilton’s radio frustrations over his pit strategy during Sunday’s Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix.

After topping qualifying, Hamilton started the race from 11th on the grid due to an engine penalty, but had recovered to third place with 10 laps to go in the race.

Mercedes had asked Hamilton to pit for a fresh set of intermediates much earlier when cars around him were coming in, only for the Briton to request he stay out, believing his tyres were still working fine.

Mercedes looked set to keep Hamilton out all the way to the end of the race on his starting set of intermediates, but opted to cut its losses and pit him with eight laps to go as his times dropped off.

It dropped Hamilton back to fifth place, sparking frustration from the seven-time world champion as he asked “why did you give up that space?” over the radio, later adding: “We shouldn’t have come in.”

Hamilton told race engineer Pete Bonnington to “leave me alone” when updated on the gap to Pierre Gasly behind as he struggled with graining. He held on to finish the race fifth, leaving him six points behind title rival Max Verstappen at the top of the championship.

Mercedes F1 boss Wolff said the team had “no problem at all with tough conversations on the radio”.

“Obviously we wouldn’t speak like this to Lewis, because he’s driving a car at 320 km/h,” Wolff said.

“But that’s all OK, absolutely. We are totally aligned, we’ve been in this together eight years.

“We have thick enough skin to understand that a driver in the car is frustrated about the situation, that he will understand afterwards.”

It was the second race in a row Hamilton had questioned Mercedes’ strategy calls over team radio. He initially ignored a call to pit in Russia before following the team’s call to pit for intermediates one lap later, a move he later called a “genius stroke”, according to Wolff.

“I think we just need to work on the communication to trust each other, and in a way be able to describe what we are aiming for,” Wolff added.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, in the pits

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, in the pits

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the pitwall “wouldn’t really expect anything other than frustration” over finishing fifth, but was confident Hamilton understood the decision after a post-race debrief.

"He understands the reasons,” Shovlin said.

“I think it’s just the frustration from him that at times in that race, he thought he was going to be on the podium, and that didn’t come true.

“There’s a bit of disappointment in that. But if we look at how we operated, it was sensible and in a championship battle, there’s a point where you’ve got to stop taking risks and you’ve got to cut your losses.

“Although those decisions are difficult to do, you’ve got to be strong and you’ve got to take them.”

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