Toto Wolff: “I think we had the quicker car probably”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff says he believes Mercedes lost the French Grand Prix because of strategy, and not because their car was slower.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull triumphed at the French Grand Prix, due to their two-stop strategy that allowed the Dutch driver to hunt down and overtake Lewis Hamilton on fresher tyres.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes the key moment in the race happed during the first pit stop when Verstappen managed to perform a successful undercut and get in front of the Briton.

“Car performance was good, I think we had the quicker car probably,” said Wolff.

“We lost the race at the stop, thinking that we had enough protection against the undercut, which we didn’t.

“We had a solid three-second gap to protect against the undercut and that wasn’t enough as it looks and from there on we were on the back foot actually.

“The fight between the three cars was intense at the front and I think you then basically had to opt to continue with the one stop or the two.

“The two stop was a danger for us because [Sergio] Perez was in the way, and we got it wrong today,” concluded the Austrian.

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Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin also gave a quick rundown on what caused his team to lose the race.

“We had a good opportunity to win and get both cars on the podium so the result is obviously very disappointing,” Shovlin said.

“Lewis had control of the race in the first stint and if anything we looked to be a bit better on degradation.

“We triggered the stops ourselves with Valtteri who was struggling with a growing vibration and that was clearly earlier than we wanted to come in but it was getting to a level where we didn’t have an option.

“Max obviously took the next lap to protect against Valtteri but with Lewis having just over three seconds of margin, we thought that he would have just enough protection from the undercut but that wasn’t the case.

“The pitstops were good, the hard tyre was obviously quick but there’s more that we need to go through to understand why we lost the place,” concluded the Briton.

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