Mercedes explains in detail why they pitted Russell and not Hamilton

© Wolfgang Wilhelm for Mercedes-Benz AG

Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin explains why Mercedes opted to put George Russell and Lewis Hamilton on different tyre compounds in the final laps of the Dutch Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton was catching up to Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix, when the Safety Car was deployed due to Valtteri Bottas’ DNF. Verstappen then pitted for fresh soft tyres, while Mercedes decided to leave Lewis on the track on older mediums, hoping that he will be able to keep P1 in the final laps of the race.

However, the team did pit George Russell for fresh softs, and ultimately Lewis got overtaken by Verstappen, Russell and Leclerc, finishing the race in P4.

Some have said that Mercedes should have put both of their drivers on softs, and let them battle it out with Max for the win, while others said they should have both been left on mediums, so that George can serve as a buffer between Lewis and Max.

Now, Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin explains why Mercedes decided to split strategies.

“We were running at the time on tyres that were six laps old, six lap old medium,” the Briton said in Mercedes’ race debrief.

“And the tyres that we had in the garage are a one lap used soft. And on paper, we thought there was a fighting chance that if we had both our cars on that medium ahead of Max, we would be able to hang on to the lead of the race.

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“Now, at the time we gave Lewis a box opposite command. So that means if Max comes in, you stay out, and that was what moved our cars from second and third position into first and second, with Max behind.

“That decision making became slightly more complicated when the Safety Car decided to come through the pitlane, so that they can clear Valtteri’s car at the end of the pit straight.

“And when it does that, the time taken to do a pit stop is much shorter, and as it happened for George, he was saying that he felt he was losing tyres on that medium anyway, we were able to top him, and at that point we couldn’t do the same with Lewis.

“If we had stopped Lewis, he would have dropped behind Max into that second place. George would have actually dropped much further back because of the delay of servicing both cars.

“Not in reality, we know that we ended up worse off than we started, and probably the safest thing to do would have been to stop them both at the safety car for new soft tyres, and we would have been banking that second and third place.

“But what we were hoping for is to try and keep some chance of winning that race still alive, and that was why we ended up doing what we did by trying to stay on the medium tyre, inherit position and see whether we could cling on to it,” Shovlin concluded.

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