Opinion: Criticism of Hamilton's frustrated team radio is unfair

15-10-2021 07:00 | Updated: 15-10-2021 11:47
by GPblog.com
Column
 Opinion: Criticism of Hamilton's frustrated team radio is unfair

The Turkish Grand Prix was not the best weekend for Lewis Hamilton. The Briton initially ignored his team's call to come in for a new set of intermediate tyres as he thought he could drive to the end without a pit stop. Mercedes finally brought him in for new tyres with eight laps to go and the seven-time world champion finished fifth.

Hamilton clearly sounded frustrated on the team radio. He didn't understand why Mercedes had brought him so late. Several team radios followed, in which the Brit indicated he was not happy with the team's choice.

Hamilton received a lot of negative reactions and criticism after the weekend. On Instagram, he reacted to the media reports, as his radio messages were a common part of news stories. In the message, he wrote that he took the risk himself and that it was his fault that it didn't work out.

Emotional team radios belong in F1

Yet it seems people forget how high the emotions of F1 drivers can run when they are full of adrenaline. On top of that, Hamilton is in a battle for the title. That he is under pressure from Max Verstappen seems obvious and that it can lead to emotional reactions is only normal.

Drivers are completely in their own world during a two-hour race. They concentrate one hundred percent on what's happening on the track and can't see the data the team has. For Hamilton, it was unclear why he needed to pit, while Mercedes could see that his times would be significantly slower if he had continued. The missing information caused frustration for Hamilton, but after the race, he said he understood the decision because of the circumstances.

Criticism of an emotional reaction when it has a negative impact on a driver's performance is justified. If Lando Norris had listened to his team in Russia, he might have achieved a better result by stopping earlier. Instead, he sounded fierce over the radio for not wanting to come in. This ultimately cost him the win.

Statements from drivers

The whole situation is reminiscent of a statement made by Sebastian Vettel during the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix press conference. Hamilton was asked a question there about his negative comment towards Verstappen. "It's unfair to make up a story out of nowhere when we're racing and we're full of adrenaline. Sometimes we say these things," Vettel responded.

Hamilton is certainly not the only driver in the sport to react strongly. Verstappen himself sounded angry over the team radio during the Italian Grand Prix after Red Bull's poor pit stop. In Turkey, Kimi Raikkonen also sounded angry over the radio several times because his drinking bottle was leaking. "How is it so *** difficult to do simple things. The most *** simple part in the whole *** car and we can't fix it", he sounded towards his engineer.

F1 drivers are only human and in the heat of battle, emotions can run high. With only six races to go and a gap of just six points in the championship, even the seven-time world champion will sometimes get frustrated when a race doesn't go as expected.

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