Wednesday, 16 may 2018, 10:58 , by Matthew Scott
Mercedes have admitted that Valtteri Bottas was in "big, big trouble" at the Spanish grand Prix, despite nursing his car home to complete a one-two finish behind Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes opted to hold track position, rather than pit Bottas a second time, and have revealed how close the decision came to costing the Finn.
Starting second, Bottas was pipped off the line by Sebastian Vettel and then jut missed out on pulling off the overcut on the Ferrari at their first pit-stops.
Ferrari called Vettel in for a second stop under the Virtual Safety Car, but it ultimately cost him as he finished fourth behind Max Verstappen's Red Bull.
Both Vettel and Verstappen closed the gap steadily to Bottas in the closing stages, but he managed to cling on and secure a third podium finish of the season.
"It's fair to say that it was extremely marginal," chief strategist James Vowles explained in a Mercedes video.
"It's fair to say that if the race had been a lap or two longer, we could have been in big, big trouble.
"The last few laps of the race for Valtteri were very, very tense. We knew that the front left tyre would be very much down to zero rubber remaining. And it's a very difficult call as to what's going to happen.
"But he had eight seconds of race time relative to the Red Bull behind, and what we were trying to do was very delicately use up some of that race time to slow down in some of the key corner sequences to make sure we looked after that tyre whilst not losing temperature in the rubber that was still actually left on it.
"It's a very, very delicate balance, and I really can't understate this, Valtteri did an absolutely incredible job. We put him in a very difficult position, and he dealt with it absolutely perfectly, taking that tyre just to the end of the race as we asked him to do."
For the full debrief, check out the video below...