Slow pit-stops cost Lewis Hamilton in Austrian GP as early charge limits damage
Lewis charges from ninth to fourth on first lap but loses 1.9 seconds to race victor Nico Rosberg during their pit-stops
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 22/06/14 5:54pm
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he might be culpable for the slow pit-stops which cost him victory in the Austrian GP.
Although Hamilton successfully limited the damage from his poor qualifying performance by charging through the field from ninth to second, there was plenty of devil in the detail of the result with Hamilton crossing the line 1.9 seconds behind race victor Nico Rosberg - precisely the margin Hamilton lost to his Mercedes team-mate in two tardy pit-stops.
With Hamilton actually within half a second of Rosberg during the final lap before easing off at the final corner, social media was inevitably saturated with conspiracy theories after the race as Mercedes soaked themselves in champagne following their sixth one-two finish of the season.
"I didn't know I had lost that much time. They didn't feel fast but it could have been my positioning," Hamilton acknowledged with Mercedes subsequently confirming that their driver had marginally over-shot his pit box at his first stop.
The team were also quick to point out they had permitted Hamilton to pit before Rosberg at the second round of pit-stops, a beneficial prerogative usually only enjoyed by the driver boasting superior track position, in order to propel the Englishman ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas.
"We'll investigate because obviously it is frustrating to lose time when you have done everything you can to gain a tenth here and a tenth there," added Hamilton. "When you lose such a chunk of time over two stops, it's tough.
"But second is a good result considering what happened yesterday. It was damage limitation for me and to be pressurising Nico at the end really shows the pace I had this weekend."
However, Hamilton's pace isn't currently producing a profitable haul of points. After twice failing to reach the chequered flag this season due to mechanical failure, he now trails Rosberg by 29 points - in excess of a full race victory - in the Drivers' Championship.
Yet there was also plenty to admire in his performance on Sunday as the 2008 World Champion produced arguably the lap of the season so far as he hurtled through the field off the line.
Rosberg & Hamilton's pitstops compared
Rosberg - 2.6 seconds.
Hamilton - 3.5 seconds.
Rosberg - 3 seconds.
Hamilton - 4 seconds.
"I've been working very hard on my starts and that was probably one of the best starts I've ever had," said Hamilton. "It was just what I was hoping for."
After charging past Daniil Kvyat, Kimi Raikkonen and a struggling Daniel Ricciardo before the first corner, Hamilton plunged past Fernando Alonso into Turn Eight and was up to fourth by the end of the first lap behind Rosberg.
But there was no way past his team-mate thereafter with Hamilton's clear speed advantage over Rosberg blunted by their respective pit-stops with the Englishman's first stop nine tenths slower than the German's and his second a full second worse off.
On such small margins are races decided. Hamilton must hope that they don't decide title races too.