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Start Russian GP
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Lewis Hamilton

Why Hamilton actually made the right decision to not pit at the Hungarian GP restart

One of the most bizarre scenes in Formula 1 history happened on Sunday when Lewis Hamilton took to the starting grid all by himself for the standing start restart.

Analysis
To news overview © Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton's decision to not pit at the end of the formation lap for the standing start restart at the Hungarian Grand Prix was seen as a big mistake by many. However, you can make a good argument for why it was actually the right decision.

With Hamilton at the front of the pack, he had no idea about whether drivers would choose to pit at the end of the lap to put dry tyres on. As the sun broke out from the clouds, the track was clearly drying quickly but Hamilton decided to stay out on track to restart the race on intermediate tyres.

"When we actually left the pit lane at that point we were talking about do we go on slicks because we could see it was drying out," Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press. And that's really the decision that we got wrong.

"The mindset though was a bit, that given the situation in the race there and with our competitors, was one of not making a mistake by slipping off or getting tangled in an accident.

"So we decided to be cautious and go on on the intermediates. It was very surprising to see the entire field on the intermediates and then it was more surprising to see the entire field peel off behind us."

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In a situation such as the one which arose on Sunday, Hamilton was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Imagine if he did pit.

There would be almost certainly no gap in the field to safely release the car, and a risk of a collision of damage in the pit lane was relatively high too. Taking the cautious approach was the right thing to do given Hamilton's main title rival Max Verstappen was wounded and down the order.

"When you're first garage you've got the disadvantage that that as you come in and do your stop," Shovlin explains. "You've then got a train of cars following you in who will have pit boxes further down the pit lane.

"Then you've got to try and find some kind of a gap that you can launch into and you saw there were a few incidents where people were crashing in the pit lane.

"Given that there's no way that Lewis can ever build five seconds on a formation lap, because everyone's trying to bunch up and get in, we think we would have been best case sixth place on the road.

"Worst case 10th, but it would have still been messy and risky which is why we go back to the real mistake we made [which] was we should have rolled out of the pit lane on dry tyres, as should everyone because then you don't need to make the stop.

"So it was unfortunate and we had an easy opportunity to win the race that we failed to take. But we were all in agreement that we got it wrong together. No one's being blamed for it but it's one of those lessons that you learn from an industry you try not make the same mistake twice."

Hamilton may have looked silly on paper, but closer analysis suggests the seven-time world champion actually did the right thing and it was one factor which enabled him to take the lead of the championship by eight points over Verstappen.

In our latest video, RacingNews365.com looks back at some of the strangest and most unique Formula 1 car designs from over the decades

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

The latest news about the Hungarian Grand Prix straight from the Hungaroring.

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