Mercedes dismissed Bottas strategy call to avoid race result interference
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has stated Valtteri Bottas' call for soft tyres for his second stint in the Portuguese Grand Prix was never under consideration as the team did not want to interfere with the result.
Bottas was the faster of the two Silver Arrows at the start of Sunday's race as Lewis Hamilton dropped to third on a difficult first lap influenced by drizzle and the fact both drivers started on Pirelli's medium compounds that took longer to come to life .
Hamilton, however, soon hit his stride to retake the lead from Bottas with a move into the first corner and never looked back en route to a 25-second winning margin - the largest gap of the season - and a record-breaking 92nd Formula 1 victory.
Ahead of his final stop, Bottas requested a switch to the soft compound tyre to offset Hamilton's hard tyre stint but was denied the alternate strategy by the pit wall.
"We’ve done it on occasions but it’s always a tricky situation," explained Wolff.
"If you ask the lead driver to put the hards on because you believe it is the right choice, and then the second driver starts to convince you about the other thing, it’s very difficult to explain that we’ve basically reversed the cars.
"We don’t want to interfere too much. There will be situations that we will allow these calls but we were pretty convinced that the hard was the better tyre.
"All data that we’ve seen from cars out there, tended to the hard outperforming the medium and the soft.
"And when you look at Checo [Sergio Perez] and Esteban [Ocon] at the end, the soft didn’t function at all, it was actually the weakest tyre towards the end of the race.
"So we were pretty robust in our decision because we expected it to be the better tyre."
The light rain during the opening laps of the race allowed Carlos Sainz's McLaren to surge into the lead on soft tyres, with the warm-up of the red-striped compound paying dividends on the low-grip surface.
Wolff conceded to being excited by the prospect of a different team leading the pack, pointing to the joy of the fans in the Portimão grandstands as an indication of the direction F1 needs to take.
"I loved the first few laps," said the Austrian. "With the drizzle kicking in, we knew that with the medium we would probably not be great. But then others had problems too.
"I just think that whatever McLaren does to get the tyre into the window has functioned well.
"They were up to speed from the get-go. Both drivers are extremely competent. I really liked the cheer of the public when Carlos passed the main straight in the lead.
"And this is just what Formula 1 needs, we need to have lots of variability, fights for positions, turn one, Valtteri against [Max] Verstappen was great. Valtteri taking the lead. The beginning was very entertaining."
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