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Mercedes gave up on Hamilton winning in Baku

Mercedes gave up on Hamilton winning in Baku

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Mercedes gave up on Hamilton winning in Baku

Mercedes gave up on Hamilton winning in Baku

Mercedes have admitted they all-but gave up hope of Lewis Hamilton winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while focusing their energy on getting Valtteri Bottas ahead of Sebastian Vettel in Baku. Despite underperforming across large parts of the weekend, Hamilton did take victory in Baku, moving to the top of the drivers' standings at the same time.

Bottas' luck appeared to be in when Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen's crash brought out a safety car which allowed him to pit for fresh tyres and remain ahead of Vettel, who had dominated the grand prix for its entirety beforehand.

After Vettel skated off-track while trying to overtake Bottas at the restart, the Finn's hopes then blew up as he ran through debris, shredding his rear-right tyre.

It left Hamilton largely unchallenged to waltz to his 63rd grand prix victory - Mercedes' first of the 2018 season after a record drought in the hybrid era.

Silver Arrows chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has revealed that the team had taken their eyes off Hamilton as a potential race winner late in the race, making his triumph all the more surprising.

"If there hadn't been a safety car, we'd have come in with Valtteri and taken the ultrasoft about 10 laps from the end of the race," Shovlin said in a team debrief.

Read more: Bottas is Hamilton's favourite team-mate
Read more: Mercedes 'still behind' Ferrari

"The supersoft wasn't degrading, it was going really well, and we could've run it as long as we'd liked.

"Those 10 laps would've given him just enough time to catch up with Seb and battle him for the win. He would've done that with a couple of laps remaining.

"With Lewis, we had less options. The default would've been to run to the finish on the soft, saving position.

"The soft would've lasted. It wasn't really getting any worse but it wouldn't have had the same grip as the ultrasoft."

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