A frustrated Lewis Hamilton questioned his Mercedes team’s strategy on Sunday after he finished sixth behind team-mate George Russell at the Miami Grand Prix.
After the fifth race of the year, Hamilton is sixth in the drivers’ standings on 36 points, with fellow Briton fourth on 59.
The seven-time world champion said he was surprised to be asked if he wanted to pit for fresh tyres during a safety car period after 41 laps of the inaugural 67-lap race at the Miami International Autodrome, won by Max Verstappen.
“I really don’t know, in that scenario I have no clue where everyone is,” he explained when asked about the incident.
“When the team say ‘it’s your choice’ – I don’t have the information to make the decision.
“That’s what your job is! Make the decision for me. You’ve got all the details right there in front of you. I don’t.
“That’s what you rely on the guys for, but today they gave it to me and I didn’t understand it.”
The team decided not to pit Hamilton.
“It’s just a bit unfortunate on the safety car, but at least we got points today,” he said.
“We’re finishing and reliability is good. We just have to keep trying. I’m excited to, at one stage, take a step forward, which we haven’t yet.”
He had finished a forlorn 13th two weeks previously at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Team-mate Russell made the most of the safety car to pit for fresh tyres and, with that advantage, was able to pass Hamilton to finish fifth.
“It’s good when you battle with our team-mate,” Hamilton said.
“You show more respect, give more space and I enjoyed it. I think there’s good respect between us and I was pushing as hard as I could.”
Hamilton caused another stir ahead of the race when he arrived in the paddock wearing a dazzling outfit, combining a pink T-shirt and trousers with giant purple sunglasses. It was a clear statement of individuality after his argument with ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), over their ban on bling and his bid to help champions Mercedes kick-start their flagging title defence.
The seven-time champion was also sporting a dazzling gold watch, 24 hours after qualifying sixth on the grid and meeting with former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.
His participation in the keenly-anticipated inaugural Miami event had been in doubt on Friday when he said he would refuse to remove a nose stud and earrings.
The FIA had issued a scrutineers’ note requesting teams confirm their drivers would remove all jewellery and conform to rules on fireproof underwear.
His threat to boycott the race was headed off after talks with FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem and a meeting with medical commission president Dr Sean Petherbridge.
Hamilton, 37, agreed to the removal of his earrings and was given a two-race medical exemption for his nose stud because it could not be taken out easily.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc leads the title race with 104 ahead of world champion Verstappen of Red Bull on 85.
To see the full F1 driver’s standings, click here.