Lewis Hamilton believes he could have “easily won” the Singapore GP if Mercedes took a “risk” with their strategy – and has suggested that the in-form Ferrari are currently “hungrier” than the championship leaders.
Hamilton only finished fourth on Sunday despite appearing to have the pace to challenge the Ferraris from second on the grid.
Vettel ends F1 win drought
Leclerc questions ‘unfair strategy’
Critical to Hamilton’s disappointing race was Mercedes’ decision not to pit him earlier – ignoring his calls to “undercut” Charles Leclerc as he closed up behind the pole-sitting Ferrari – and the Englishman emerged behind Sebastian Vettel, Leclerc and Max Verstappen after he stopped on Lap 27.
“I knew that we should have undercut,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after the race.
“I kind of knew it this morning as well in the brief. I was like, ‘let’s just take the risk’. But they didn’t.
“But we win and we lose together as a team and we all take this on our chin. It’s painful for us because we could have easily won today but it just didn’t work out.”
Hamilton wasn’t the only driver who questioned his team’s strategy: Leclerc was also unhappy with Ferrari after Vettel jumped two cars with his early stop – going on to win the race.
It was a first one-two of the season for Ferrari, who are gathering momentum after three consecutive race victories. And the latest at a track where they expected to struggle.
Although Hamilton has a healthy 65-point lead in the championship, and while Mercedes are 133 points ahead of Ferrari, he is concerned about the current trend.
“It feels like they [Ferrari] are hungrier at the moment,” added Hamilton.
“So we’ve got to step it up. We’ve got the ability, we’re still the best team but we’ve just got to stop dragging our feet and get on. We’ll re-huddle and come back fighting in the next race.”
Why didn’t Mercedes pit Hamilton earlier?
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the team did consider bringing Hamilton in before Vettel and particularly Leclerc, but said Ferrari got their strategy spot on.
“We discussed the undercut but there was the risk of being caught in traffic,” Wolff explained. “They did it right, they had nothing to lose and I think everybody was surprised by how strong the undercut was.”
More of a worry to Wolff is the fact Mercedes struggled to keep up with Ferrari in Singapore, while the Scuderia now appear to be a very real threat for the rest of the season.
“Once we got going we had a fast car,” he explained. “But out of the blocks, and after every restart, we are lacking pace and that’s the harsh reality.
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