Lewis Hamilton believes he could have executed a potential race-winning one-stop strategy with better guidance during Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton held third place after the early drama at Suzuka, behind Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel, who were both committed to two-stop strategies.
The one-stopping Hamilton pitted five laps later than his team-mate, after which he was informed to push to catch Vettel, as Mercedes accepted a sole stop was unlikely to work.
Hamilton assumed the lead when Vettel, and then Bottas, made their second stops, prompting Bottas to seek clarification that the reigning World Champion would be pitting once more.
Hamilton came in again, dropping to third, and while he reeled in Vettel through the final laps he was unable to find a way past the Ferrari driver.
“With better guidance, I think I probably could have [reached the end],” said Hamilton.
“They [Mercedes] said when they put the tyre on [at the first stop] they would be going to a two-stop because the degradation is higher.
“Just the direction I was given in terms of having to close the gap to Seb, every time I was having to close this gap, I was using the tyres up a lot.
“In how I was utilising them and using them, there was no way I was going to make it [to the end].
“Maybe if I had from the beginning [of the second stint] said to them just eke it out, just see if you can manage it, I could have driven differently to help them to the end.”
Hamilton nonetheless praised the job of race winner Bottas but suggested Mercedes allowed a 1-2 to slip through its grasp.
“Naturally we will go and sit and talk to the engineers and strategists,” said Hamilton.
“I think it could have been better. There have been multiple scenarios during the year where that has been the case but nevertheless Valtteri did a good job.
“I would like to have driven differently in that second stint to stretch it out as far as we could.
“Naturally while I was never going to stay out I thought about staying out but by that time I had already pushed so much to close the gap to Seb.
“We should have at least got a 1-2 today I think but strategy wasn’t optimum.”