Formula 1


Mercedes explain decision not to pit Lewis Hamilton at the same time as Red Bull duo in China

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Executive Director of Mercedes Toto Wolff and the team’s chief director James Vowles have accepted the team’s strategy failure in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton put in another disappointing display in China and is yet to win a race this season.

But they appeared to miss a trick in Shanghai by opting against pitting behind the safety car to swap his ageing medium tyres for a fresher soft compound.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both did and it proved crucial to the Australian's eventual victory, highlighting the major opportunity Mercedes missed.

After the race, Wolff conceded his team’s failure was largely due to a strategic slip up which duly handed Ricciardo the deserving win.

"Looking back, we should have pitted Lewis," he said. "We thought holding track position would be beneficial. We got it wrong, they got it right and probably deserved to win."

But the team’s chief director James Vowles has since gone into extra depth to explain Mercedes' thinking behind the decision.

"The situation across the race at that point was that cars weren't really overtaking, even when there was a difference in compounds between them," said Vowles, as per Sky Sports.

F1 Grand Prix of China

"For us, we had Kimi in front on softs, so no difference between the two cars and we couldn't even get close.

"The same with Valtteri at the front relative to Sebastian - but those were the same tyres. Verstappen was on the ultrasoft tyre, which was sensitive and difficult - but neither Kimi nor Lewis could make inroads into him. So, on a track like that, the performance difference between compounds wasn't working out.

He added: "With Lewis, under that Safety Car condition, we always review how many positions we could potentially gain or may lose. What would we have gained?

"With Verstappen ahead, we knew there was a chance that he would come in if there was a Safety Car and, if that happened, it would put Lewis up into a podium position if we could take the medium to the end of the race and defend from the cars behind us.

F1 Grand Prix of China

"It was a decision that when we laid out all the facts on the table, we didn't believe, based on the earlier evidence, that there would be enough performance differential for a Soft to overtake a Medium, even one that's 10 laps old.

"The reality of the situation, everyone saw what happened. Both Red Bulls were extraordinarily quick on that soft tyre and were able to scythe through the field."

It was a gamble that ultimately backfired and forced Hamilton to settle for fourth place.

The good news is the Mercedes team have over a week to get their strategy for the Azerbaijan GP up to scratch.

Daniel Ricciardo
Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton
Valterri Bottas

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