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Mercedes admit Bottas' Spanish Grand Prix strategy was wrong

Mercedes admit Bottas' Spanish Grand Prix strategy was wrong

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Mercedes admit Bottas' Spanish Grand Prix strategy was wrong

Mercedes admit Bottas' Spanish Grand Prix strategy was wrong

Mercedes motorsport strategy director James Vowles has admitted the team made the "wrong decision" when putting Valtteri Bottas on soft tyres for the closing stint of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas finished Barcelona race third behind both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Pitting first of the three drivers for his final scheduled stop, Mercedes put Bottas on soft tyres in a bid to close the gap on and potentially undercut Verstappen.

The gamble failed and Bottas instead dropped back from the Red Bull driver before eventually pitting for mediums to launch a successful final lap assault on the point for setting the fastest lap.

Vowles explained: “Once Valtteri was back in P3, we were reviewing options and there were really only two on the table.

"The first is to go longer, force Verstappen into an early stop, make sure he covers you and then go much longer than him, and do an overcut and overtake on track. The second is obviously the undercut, the one that is most known about, but to do that you need to be very, very close to the car in front and on the first stint, we simply weren’t there.

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"We were dropping off the tyre curves and we weren’t able to get close enough to Verstappen. Understandably so, Valtteri had been fighting through traffic to get up to that point and had lost a little bit more of the shine outside the tyre. On stint two, there was an opportunity for an undercut, a very small one.

"It appeared for a lap and that was it, and it was very marginal to take a Medium and then undercut. But it existed. We debated it, it was definitely an option that we went through on the pit wall, but there were also options we felt by going longer and it was really balancing those two."

He added that the rain which briefly threatened the race also played a role in the decision-making process, saying: "Perhaps unbeknownst as well, there was a bit of a distraction of a thunderstorm that was taking place nearby and the concern as to whether that could maybe push across the circuit.

"All of that combined meant we left that opportunity on the table and went for the long stint. Wrong decision I think in hindsight, I think we had an opportunity to undercut, just on that one lap around lap 39. Either way, Valtteri did a sterling job trying to recover, did a brilliant job getting back into the P3 and we look forward to the next event.”

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