Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes addresses heated radio argument over strategy call

MercedesLewis Hamilton has denied he’s “furious” with his team after his fifth-placed finish in the Turkish Grand Prix, in which he bristled in a tense radio exchange over a strategy disagreement.

As the field navigated around Istanbul Park in wet conditions, Hamilton’s team called for him to pit for new intermediates on lap 41 of the 58-lap race.

But Hamilton, hoping the track would dry so he could switch to slicks, rejected his team’s call.

The seven-time world champion again shot down his team when the conversation resurfaced on lap 42.

By the time Hamilton’s team had eventually managed to persuade him into pitting for new intermediates on lap 50, he had accepted the track wouldn’t dry out enough for slicks to be used.

However, he still didn’t want to box.

While he reluctantly succumbed to his team’s call to pit, he wanted to risk remaining on the same set of intermediates for the duration of the race.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was the only driver to not pit and he collected a 10th-placed finish, after completing the race on one set of intermediates.

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Hamilton sat third when he headed for the pits and, as he re-emerged on the circuit in fifth, he hit out at his team on radio.

Not only had Hamilton been overtaken by Sergio Perez of Red Bull and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during his pit stop, the change to new intermediates caused his tyres to ‘grain’, forfeiting all hope of climbing through the field.

By the time his tyres had stopped ‘graining’, which sees the top layer of rubber roll into little balls rather than bite into the track, there was not enough time in the race for a comeback.

“F–k, man. Why did you give up that place?” Hamilton said.

“We shouldn’t have come in.”

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Bottas takes victory at Turkish GP

When race engineer Peter Bonnington argued back, saying “we were going to lose the position, anyway”, Hamilton replied: “Leave it alone, man”.

But Hamilton has since taken to Instagram to hose down talk that he’s angered by his team’s strategy.

“Good morning, world!” Hamilton wrote on Instagram story.

“I’ve seen some of the press this morning which has made a bit too much of the incident in (the) race of when to pit. It isn’t true to say I’m furious with my team. As a team we work hard to build the best strategy possible but as the race progresses you have to make split decisions (and) there are so many factors constantly changing.

“… We took the risk to stay out hoping it would dry. It didn’t. I wanted to risk it and try and go to the end, but it was my call to stay out and it didn’t work. In the end we did pit and it was the safest thing to do.

“We live and we learn. We win and we lose as a team.

“Don’t ever expect me to be all polite and calm on the radio when I’m racing; we are all very passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers. My heart and spirit are out there on the track.”

Ricciardo struggles at Turkish GP

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff indicated on Sky Sports’ post-race show that a quick debrief was all that was needed to erase tension following the dispute.

Hamilton suggested in his Instagram post that exactly that had eventuated.

“It’s the fire in me that’s got me this far but any angst is quickly forgotten and we talked it through,” Hamilton said.

“Already looking ahead to the next race.

“Today’s another day to rise and as a team. Still we rise.”

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Hamilton led title rival Max Verstappen by two points ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix but, after he finished fifth and the Red Bull driver second, he’s trailing by six.

The Hamilton-Verstappen title battle will resume when the grid arrives in Austin for the United States Grand Prix in just under a fortnight’s time.

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