Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes communication must improve before China

• ‘We have to sit down and discuss the last two races,’ says Briton
• Radio problems cost Hamilton in Bahrain and Melbourne races

Lewis Hamilton has warned that he and his Mercedes team must improve communication after his third‑place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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.

Francesco Cigarini, the mechanic injured by Kimi Raikkonen at a pit stop on Sunday, has had successful surgery on a broken leg and published a photo from his hospital bed giving a thumbs-up.

Hamilton started ninth in Bahrain 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 well 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 with the team. His radio was not working properly and the team could not hear what he was saying, crucial in a race that was evolving quickly and dictated by the need to know how much to push and how much to save tyres according to Vettel’s strategy.

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 mean positions and points for the championship.”

Hamilton has said that he 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,” he said.

“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. “We are going to work on it and improve it. All the engineers, everyone involved. We have to work out some sort strategy because I don’t want them to keep talking to me when I don’t need them to.”

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was also aware of how important attention to detail would be this season after dropping points in the first two races. “If you add the points we haven’t made over those we could’ve made, it could decide the championship,” he said. Hamilton in turn was hoping for an improvement in China. “Shanghai has been a good hunting ground for me so I really hope we can go there with some strength,” he said. “This has been a tough weekend for us. Ferrari have shown they are a force to be reckoned with.”

Cigarini, the Ferrari mechanic who suffered a broken leg when Raikkonen was mistakenly given the signal to leave his pit box during a stop, has posted on Instagram that he is recovering. “The operation went well,” he wrote. “I want to thank all the people who asked about me and worried. Only a big thank you. Hugs.” Raikkonen replied to the post by saying: “Get well soon mate!”

The team were fined £50,000 for unsafe release and have announced they will launch a full inquiry into the incident.


Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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