Lewis Hamilton says the reaction to his pit strategy at the Turkish Grand Prix has been blown out of proportion and denied he was “furious” with his Mercedes team on Sunday night.
Hamilton was running in third position at Istanbul Park when Mercedes called him in to pit on lap 50 of 58, dropping him to fifth place where he finished the race.
The seven-time world champion wanted to remain on track and risk running his tyres to the end of the race, but was overruled by Mercedes which was concerned about the state of his tyres and the potential for loss of performance or even a failure in the final few laps.
Hamilton appeared upset with the decision at the time, saying over team radio: “F—, man, why did you give up that place? We shouldn’t have come in”.
When his race engineer Peter Bonnington continued to warn him about cars closing in on him, he added: “Leave it alone, man”.
Speaking to media after the race, Hamilton said his “gut feeling was to stay out” and that he “would have wanted to take that risk”.
The combination of the team radio transcript and the post-race quotes led a number of British newspapers to claim Hamilton was “furious”, “raging” and “angry” in their headlines. But in a post on Instagram on Monday morning, the Mercedes driver said that was not the case.
“I’ve seen some of the press this morning which has made a bit too much of the incident in yesterday’s race of when to pit. It isn’t true to say I’m furious with my team,” he wrote.
“As a team we work hard to build the best strategy possible but at the race progresses you have to make split decisions there are so many factors constantly changing.
“Yesterday we took the risk to stay out hoping it would dry, it didn’t. I wanted to risk it and try and go to the end, but it was my call to stay out and it didn’t work. In the end we did pit and it was the safest thing to do.
“We live and we learn. We win and we lose as a team. Don’t ever expect me to be all polite and calm on the radio when I’m racing, we are all very passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers.
“My heart and spirit are out there on the track, it’s the fire in me that’s got me this far but any angst is quickly forgotten and we talked it through, already looking ahead to the next race. Today’s another day to rise and as a team. Still we rise.”
Hamilton is now six points behind title rival Max Verstappen in the standings with six races to go.