Mercedes duo frustrated after strategy blunder and missed opportunities

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the singapore GP weigh in area

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton get weighed in Singapore

Street circuit experts Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were frustrated with the Mercedes team strategy after missing out on a podium finish at the Singapore Grand Prix, where they were tipped to be at least podium contenders if not winners on the night.

Rosberg finished fourth but queried why his team hadn’t employed a similar strategy to Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso and Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who grabbed second and third after pitting when the Safety Car was deployed and then making their tyres last more than 30 laps.

“I’m sure we didn’t get the most out of it today,” the German said. “I don’t know if we shouldn’t have just taken the risk and stayed out for that last set until the end and pitted with the Safety Car.”

Instead Rosberg was forced to battle through a bunched field on the narrow street circuit as Alonso and Raikkonen cruised home behind Red Bull‘s race winner and championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and fifth respectively

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and fifth respectively

“I had a slow stop and lost to Webber and had rubber [debris] in my front wing, which was really hurting performance,” said Rosberg, who won around the streets of Monaco earlier this year.

“I really lost a lot of time there and then destroyed the tyres in the battle with everybody else so it was just a difficult race from the Safety Car onwards.”

Austrian Niki Lauda, the triple champion who is now non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team, said that they had called it wrong.

“I am frustrated because it would have been much better today to bring one car in when the Safety Car was out…and then Nico or Lewis would have been way up,” he told Sky television. “So it was a strategic mistake and we are going to work on it not to do it again.”

Lewis Hamilton was upbeat before the race

Lewis Hamilton was upbeat before the race

“There are certain circumstances in a race, like a Safety Car, where you quickly have to switch your plan. And we didn’t switch quick[ly] enough.”

Hamilton, who was on pole in Singapore last year and won the race in 2009, was similarly downbeat after his fifth place finish which left him third in the drivers championship, 96 points behind Red Bull’s Vettel.

“I don’t think we can come away from this weekend satisfied,” the Briton said.

“I thought we were further ahead. I didn’t see my pit board and I wasn’t told what position I was in so I thought, with Mark dropping back, we were progressing.

“So I was disappointed to get the result we got, considering how much we were pushing and perhaps the strategy wasn’t as good as we had hoped. But nonetheless the guys did a great job and I hope that the next races we have a better chance.”

Smiles turned to frowns for Nico Rosberg after the race in Singapore

Smiles turned to frowns for Nico Rosberg after the race in Singapore

With six races remaining, Hamilton targeted overhauling Alonso in the championship after another weekend of scorching pace from Vettel, who racked up his third consecutive victory and a hat-trick of Singapore wins.

Alonso is 36 points ahead of Hamilton in the drivers standings, while Ferrari leads Mercedes by seven points in the Constructors Championship.

“That’s gone out of the window,” the former McLaren driver said of any title hopes. “We’ll just try and catch Fernando somehow. He’s ahead [by] a few points, [we’ll] try and beat Ferrari and just ride the wave that we’re on.

“We’re on a good wave generally as a team for the year, much better than what they had last year, so I’m happy [that] I could contribute. Let’s try and get the Ferraris.” (Reuters)

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  • Hawk

    First of all, Nico only wondered if theirs was the right call. He didnt query. Lewis too. On hindsight maybe it wasn’t. But at the time it was ok. For Ferrari and Lotus it was a no brainer bse they are sure of looking after their tyres, but for Merc I am not so sure. My only question is why Massa pitted? And before the Mercs too. For RB, whatever, though the gap would have been less had they gone for Option B.

  • KC

    It wasn’t a strategy blunder. The safety car helped Ferrari and hurt Mercedes, there was no strategy call which could have worked out any better for Nico and Lewis.

  • Distant Viewer

    yes Hawk hindsight is a wonderful thing, the strategy was right at the time, I think Massa was called in so the team could have both strategies employed if Alonso tyres went off Massa finished where he started so it wasn’t too bad a call other cars fell back behind their grid positions

  • SuperSeven

    If they pitted, they’d have run out of tyre at the end and went backwards. The result they got was about as much as they could given the timing of the safety car.