Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff explained why the team didn’t take the opportunity to give Lewis Hamilton a second pit stop during the Chinese Grand Prix – a strategy which won the race for Daniel Ricciardo.
The team left Hamilton on-track when the Safety Car was deployed in the second half of the race. Wolff said the team was unanimous in its view that Hamilton would be better off staying out and would be quick enough to keep the Red Bulls behind.
“Lewis’s tyre was a medium with at that stage barely 10 laps on. Our calculation predicted that the medium would last until the end and putting on a new soft, we thought, wouldn’t give you such a performance advantage. Much more than we expected.
“Now looking back it would have been for sure the right strategy to pit for the second soft. But nobody in the team, including myself, thought it was the right thing to do.”
Mercedes strategies faced criticism in recent races after Hamilton lost the lead in Melbourne and the team were unable to get their cars ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s winning Ferrari in Bahrain. Wolff denied the team is too conservative in its approach, and pointed out its strategy for Valtteri Bottas had given him a chance to win the race.
“We are very flexible,” he said. “I think we have a very good group of strategies. You can see that the undercut for Valtteri worked brilliantly.
“It becomes very complex if you have six cars in the frame for winning races instead of one or two. Suddenly there is so much more options open. Red Bull did a very bold call in pitting both of them for the soft. For them it’s the right thing to do and it proved to be 100% spot-on.”
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