Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes needs to work on its communication during Formula 1 grands prix, following confusion while battling for the lead in the Australian Grand Prix. 

The reigning world champion looked on course to win the season-opener in Melbourne until he was leapfrogged by rival Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver pitted under a Virtual Safety Car period, profiting from a combination of fortunate timing and a miscalculation by Mercedes. 

During the subsequent fight for the lead, the Briton opened up his pit-to-car radio channel to ask his team if he could push to attack, but after receiving no reply, proclaimed he was “going for it”. Hamilton explained the mid-race radio communication was the result of frustration of not knowing how much his team wanted him to push for the win. 

“Communication is something we are obviously going to try and work on,” he said. “I was like ‘Can I fight? can I go?’ and they were taking their time so I was like ‘I am going for it’ and I gave everything in that moment.”

As Hamilton pushed in his attempts to repass Vettel, he made a mistake and ran wide at Turn 9. Despite losing ground, he was able to reduce the deficit to Vettel once more. 

“I was quite close behind in his tow, just nipped the right front and didn’t make the corner,” Hamilton explained. “After that I was catching him again but in trying to catch up temperatures again were on the limit so constantly being pushed and pulled. 

"I was able to manoeuvre the car and get relatively close. It was like [two of the same poles of] a magnet, you can't get the magnet past a certain region. That's how it was. I was able to follow a lot closer than I remember in the past, but I couldn't get any closer than that.”

Hamilton backed off in the closing stages and ultimately crossed the line over five seconds behind Vettel. He later revealed he was driving with F1’s new three-engine limit rules in mind and was keen to protect his Mercedes power unit. 

“I was like ‘I’ve got to keep going’ so I was nervous of damaging the engine at the same time. I cooled it down and it started coming back, I got relatively close.

“I just thought, I couldn’t get him in those other laps, my tyres are going to be worse now, I am driving at 110% and I am risking everything just for that seven points so I probably should just sit back, save my engine and use the life of it for the next ones. 

“That goes against my spirit of racing because I want to race right down to the last line,” he added. “I am fit enough, I felt good but the way the sport is set up with fuel saving and all these different things, three engines, you have to think about them and back off. 

“So it’s probably not exciting for the fans to have seen because they probably wanted to see it to the end but I want to finish my season on these three engines, I don’t wanna have to have a fourth.”

 

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