Toto Wolff explains why Mercedes ‘triggered’ early pit stops

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff explains Mercedes’ choice to pit Valtteri Bottas early, a move that triggered early pit stops and might have cost Lewis Hamilton the win.

Lewis Hamilton managed to pass Max Verstappen in the opening lap of the French Grand Prix, after the Dutch driver made a mistake. However after Verstappen pitted, he was able to undercut Lewis and regain P1.

Unfortunately this was not a brilliant decision by Red Bull, but it was actually a reaction to Mercedes pitting Bottas on lap 17, which triggered early pit stops for all front-running drivers.

Toto Wolff now explains Mercedes didn’t attempt to undercut Red Bull, but instead had no choice but to pit Valtteri when they did.

“No, we had no choice,” said the Austrian.

“Valtteri’s tyre had started to have a vibration, and towards the end, we were really worried the vibration came through the suspension already.

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“He could have had a failure at any time, because he flat-spotted the tyres. We knew that we were going to trigger the stops too early, but [we had] no choice.”

Wolff goes on to explain how Lewis needed one extra second to be able to stay in front of Verstappen after the first pit stop.

“It went back and forwards. We were in the lead, because Max made the mistake, so that was a bit inherited.

“Then our pace was good. I think probably maybe a little bit of a margin, even, but then we had just about three seconds gap for the undercut, to protect the undercut.

“But it wasn’t enough. We’re lacking a second, and somewhere we lost it.”

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