Mercedes says Red Bull strategy "wasn't on our radar"

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Mercedes says Red Bull strategy
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Apr 16, 2018, 2:25 PM

Team boss Toto Wolff says Mercedes never properly considered going down the same path as Red Bull and pitting Lewis Hamilton for fresh tyres behind the safety car in China.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Pit board for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+

A bold gamble on strategy paid off big time for Red Bull in Shanghai, a quick decision to pit both of its drivers for fresh soft rubber during a safety car intervention mid-way through the Chinese GP netting an unlikely win for Daniel Ricciardo.

It could have even been a one-two for the Red Bull outfit had Max Verstappen not lost time with an unsuccessful passing move on Hamilton before clattering into Sebastian Vettel and picking up a 10-second penalty on lap 43.

The very same strategy could have easily paid dividends for Hamilton, who, sandwiched between the Red Bulls, opted to stay out on his medium compound tyres.

Despite that proving to be clearly the wrong call Wolff says the idea of pitting was never even taken into proper consideration, the team's data having predicted that tyre performance would be less important than track position.

"We thought at the time that track position would be more beneficial," said Wolff.

"You could see in the first stint there was no overtaking. Lewis' tyre was a medium at that stage, barely 10 laps on.

"Our calculation predicted that a medium would last until the end and putting on a new soft we thought wouldn't give you such a performance advantage.

"[The advantage was] much more than we expected. Looking back, it would have been for sure the right strategy to do for the second soft – but nobody in the team, including myself, thought that it was the right thing to do."

Wolff denied that his team was too focussed on the Ferraris at that stage of the race and missed the Red Bull trick, emphasising that a move to a two-stopper "wasn't on our radar" regardless of the circumstances.

"The Ferraris and the Mercedes decided on the same strategy, we stayed out," he said. "I don't think it was a matter of focus, it was a matter of the quickest race. And that it was our simulations showed.

"I'm not sure if Red Bull was surprised by their own pace, but we were and everyone else was. In these conditions that was the right thing to do. It wasn't on our radar."

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