After holding onto his lead from pole position and moving into a healthy lead after just a few laps in Malaysia on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton looked certain to claim his second win of the season.
However, following a safety car period sparked by Marcus Ericsson’s spin into the gravel, Mercedes switched to a three-stop strategy that left both of its drivers struggling in the race.
Towards the end of his third stint in the race, Hamilton was bearing down on Sebastian Vettel in first place, and had hoped to switch to the medium tire for the final stint that would give him a large pace advantage over the German driver, who would have been on a slower and more worn compound by that point.
However, Hamilton was fitted with prime tires at his final stop, prompting him to tell his team over the radio: “This is the wrong tire man!”
Mercedes then explained to him that the only medium compound tires left had been worn during the first stage of qualifying on Saturday, when most opted to run on hards.
Hamilton stood little chance of catching Vettel as a result, and eventually had to settle for second place.
“Whether it’s an error… We could have done things differently, that’s for sure,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race. “Hindsight is always a good thing.
“I don’t know whether we should’ve stayed out or not. If I had of stayed out, I’m not sure how it would have gone as I was struggling on my balance.
“Some other parts in the race were not so bad, but we were constantly playing catch-up and it was impossible. Second and third isn’t bad, but it’s great that we have a fight.”
Hamilton also had to deal with communication problems, and even shouted at his engineer at one point for talking to him when he was going through a fast corner.
“There was a bit of confusion in the car,” Hamilton said. “That’s always not good. When people speak to you in the corner, that’s really hard. They’re shouting at you and you’re like “what the hell’s going on?” and it’s easy to lose focus.”