MIAMI GARDENS: A frustrated Lewis Hamilton questioned his Mercedes team’s strategy on Sunday after he finished sixth behind team-mate George Russell at the Miami Grand Prix.
After the fifth race of the year, Hamilton is sixth in the drivers’ standings on 36 points, with fellow Briton fourth on 59.
The seven-time world champion said he was surprised to be asked if he wanted to pit for fresh tyres during a Safety Car period after 41 laps of the inaugural 67-lap race at the Miami International Autodrome, won by Max Verstappen.
“I really don’t know, in that scenario I have no clue where everyone is,“ he explained when asked about the incident.
“When the team say ‘it’s your choice’ — I don’t have the information to make the decision.
“That’s what your job is! Make the decision for me. You’ve got all the details right there in front of you. I don’t.
“That’s what you rely on the guys for, but today they gave it to me and I didn’t understand it.”
The team decided not to pit Hamilton.
“It’s just a bit unfortunate on the Safety Car, but at least we got points today,“ he said.
“We’re finishing and reliability is good. We just have to keep trying. I’m excited to, at one stage, take a step forward, which we haven’t yet.”
He had finished a forlorn 13th two weeks previously at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Team-mate Russell made the most of the Safety Car to pit for fresh tyres and, with that advantage, was able to pass Hamilton to finish fifth.
“It’s good when you battle with our team-mate,“ Hamilton said. “You show more respect, give more space and I enjoyed it. I think there’s good respect between us and I was pushing as hard as I could.”
He added that despite their improved result, the team were still struggling to unlock the performance potential of their car.
“We have a fast car in there, but we don’t have the key to unlock it. There’s more to come and it’s frustrating.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc leads the title race with 104 ahead of world champion Verstappen of Red Bull on 85. – AFP