Hamilton questions Mercedes’ DRS request during F1 Japanese GP: “I don’t think it was a good idea”

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Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS

Lewis Hamilton said that his team’s request for him to slow down to give team-mate George Russell the DRS during the final laps of the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka “made no sense”.

During the closing stages of the race Russell was running in fifth place but had Hamilton and Sainz closing in behind. Russell was on much older tyres as he opted for the one-stop strategy and was hoping for a safety car to help him get a cheap two-stop strategy. Both Hamilton and Sainz behind had opted to ditch their tyres twice during the race.

Once Hamilton got passed Russell, the younger Brit was vulnerable to Sainz behind and the team asked Hamilton to slow down to aid Russell, in a strategy that was highlighted last week in Singapore with Sainz, and is seen many some as the reason why he won the race in those closing laps.

Hamilton though was unhappy with this idea from his team. After slowing to give his teammate the DRS, Sainz still easily made the move into turn 1 on Russell as they both had it enabled.

“I don’t think it was a good idea, when they suggested it to me, I knew that they obviously thought of it from the last race and it made no sense. I needed to get as far clear ahead as possible. And I was on my way, I was around two seconds ahead and they asked me to give George DRS. So I had to come off the gas down the straight to get him 0.8 seconds behind.”

Hamilton said he knew even with Russell getting DRS he would have still been overtaken due to the state of his tyres and then left himself vulnerable to Sainz too.

“Then he got the DRS but then he got overtaken which was going to happen because he was on a one-stop. Sainz got past him Russell and then he was right on my tail, so not ideal. It made it very, very hard for the last couple laps. I think as a team, we’ve got to be grateful for fifth and seventh. It’s better than sixth and seventh.”

A disappointed Hamilton also spoke about their overall pace and said the car was “such a handful” in Suzuka as he wrestled his Mercedes to P6. He was downbeat about how their team has similar issues to last year at this track.

“The exact same as last year, feeling wise it felt just the same as last year, it was bouncing and sliding so it’s tough given how much work we have done to progress and we’re not any closer to the front, at least here,” said the 7 time World Champion.

Hamilton highlighted that beating one of the Ferrari’s was at least a positive.

“But we did get ahead of one of the Ferrari’s which was great teamwork, and great work from the guys in the pit stop and with strategy but we have a long way to go.”