Lewis Hamilton felt with “better guidance” and a strategy switch Mercedes could have targeted a 1-2 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

After Mercedes opted for a two-stop strategy with both its drivers Hamilton was shuffled back to third place following his final pit stop and despite fresher soft tyres he couldn’t find a route past Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages.

With Valtteri Bottas taking his first win since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Finn has trimmed Hamilton’s lead to 64 points in the Formula 1 world drivers’ standings as Mercedes wrapped up a historic sixth consecutive F1 world constructors’ title thanks to its results in Japan.

But reflecting on his race at Suzuka, Hamilton believes a stronger strategy, potentially opting for just a one-stop race and conserving his tyre life better, would have ensured he would have got past Vettel to cap a perfect race for the reigning F1 world champions.

“With better guidance, I think I probably could have. They said when they put the tyre on they would be going to a two-stop because the degradation is higher,” Hamilton said. “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.

“There was no way I was going to make it. Maybe if I had from the beginning 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 [on a one-stop strategy].

“Naturally we will go and sit and talk to the engineers and strategists. I think today 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.”

With a 64-point gap, Hamilton can wrap up his sixth F1 world drivers’ title with three races to spare if he outscores Bottas by 14 points at the next race in Mexico.

 

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