Frustrated Hamilton says Mercedes must improve communication
Driver claims he might have challenged harder in Bahrain if radio had worked properly
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes before the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 8th. Photograph: Charles Coates/Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel secured victory for Ferrari in a race during which one of his team’s mechanics was injured at a pit stop, and by winning the season-opening grand prix in Melbourne the German leads Hamilton by 17 points in the world championship.
Hamilton started ninth and the team opted to put him and colleague Valtteri Bottas on a one-stop strategy as their best chance to take the fight to Ferrari. The tactic appeared to be working until Ferrari also switched to a one-stop and Vettel was able to make his tyres last to the chequered flag.
Hamilton claimed he might have challenged harder but for communication problems. His radio was not working properly, and the team could not hear what he was saying.
In Melbourne, Hamilton was poised for the win until a software error in the pits gave him erroneous information on the lap times he needed, and Vettel took the lead under the virtual safety car. The Briton feels that the matter needs resolving before the next race in China this weekend.
“Working out a rapport that works better is even more important than precise information,” he said. “Because it is now at a point that means positions and points.”
Hamilton doubts he could have won in Bahrain after being held up in traffic over the opening laps, but he was frustrated that the team had not established a protocol with which he was comfortable.
“We will sit down and discuss the last two races. Different drivers require different feedback, some have more than others. If you listen to my radio over the years I don’t have a ton but there are times when you need more. If you haven’t spoken and set out a strategy of what feedback you need, then they are stressed in the garage because they have messages coming from the pit wall, and messages through the headphones and it is stressful for someone like [the race engineer Peter Bonnington] Bono.”
The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was also aware of how important attention to detail would be this season. “If you add the points we haven’t made over those we could’ve made, it could decide the championship,” he said.