Lewis Hamilton expressed his disappointment with a strategy decision made by Mercedes during the Japanese Grand Prix, which had almost jeopardized his race. Hamilton finished in fifth place, while his teammate George Russell secured seventh place at the Suzuka circuit.
Mercedes asks Hamilton for assistance
During the race, Mercedes requested Hamilton's help in defending George Russell against Ferrari's Carlos Sainz. The team asked Hamilton to slow down, which would give Russell a speed boost with the drag reduction system (DRS).
Hamilton expresses frustration
However, it was a later strategy call involving Russell that left Hamilton dissatisfied. While Hamilton had pitted for new hard compound tires and was attempting to catch up to Charles Leclerc, Russell chose to stay on his older set of hards, banking on the possibility of a safety car.
As Sainz closed in on Russell, the young driver wanted to use Hamilton as a shield by obtaining DRS. Russell eventually switched positions with Hamilton, but not before asking Hamilton to slow down and provide the DRS advantage. The Mercedes pitwall also instructed Hamilton to assist his teammate.
Despite their efforts, Sainz swiftly overtook Russell on the following lap, leaving Hamilton in a precarious position with the Spaniard hot on his heels in the closing stages of the race.
Hamilton expresses confusion and criticism
After the race, which Max Verstappen emerged victorious in, Hamilton voiced his confusion and criticism regarding the strategy decision. He stated, "When they suggested it to me, I knew that they obviously thought of it from the last race but it made no sense. I needed to get as far clear as possible. I was on my way, around two seconds ahead and they asked me to give George DRS and I had to come off the gas down the straight. Then he got overtaken by Sainz. He then got past George and he was right on my tail which was not ideal."
A challenging finish for Hamilton
The seven-time world champion managed to fend off Sainz, who won the Singapore Grand Prix, but not under the most comfortable circumstances. Hamilton continues to strive for his first race win since 2021.
Verstappen's chance for a third title
In the upcoming Qatar sprint shootout on October 7, Max Verstappen has the opportunity to secure his third consecutive driver's title.
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