British Grand Prix – Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has defended the team’s decision to keep Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton out on used medium tyres during the safety car period.
With the race neutralised by a safety car due to a crash for Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, many drivers elected to pit for fresh tyres, including the two Ferraris, who pit both of their cars on the same lap for new soft-compound tyres.
Mercedes, who planned to simply do the opposite of Ferrari, stayed out on their used mediums and were promoted to first and third, with Bottas leading the race restart.
Following a collision between Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Haas’ Romain Grosjean, the safety car was brought back out, which set up a final sprint to the finish.
Bottas initially looked to be able to fend off Vettel, but the Ferrari made a move into Brooklands stick, and took the lead of the race.
Bottas eventually fell behind Hamilton – who had fresher medium tyres – and Raikkonen.
Speaking after the race, Wolff believed that staying out and gaining track position was the correct call.
“We made the right call to leave both cars out under the Safety Car: we had planned to do the opposite to Ferrari, as it was our best chance to win, so when they pitted we stayed out on track with both cars,” said Wolff.
“We took the improved track position and knew it would be tough to hold on. Valtteri defended like a lion but just couldn’t hold off Sebastian as the tyres were dropping away – and still did a great job to take P4.
“For Lewis, on fresher tyres, it got him back to P2 and maximum damage limitation.”
“Overall, though, we are left with the feeling of “what might have been” after one of our cars was taken out for the second time in three races on lap one.
“In the past three weekends, we have lost points through our own mistakes and those of others – now we need to get our heads down, keep developing and put the performance to good use in the next 11 races. It’s all to play for.”