Toto Wolff has described Mercedes’ decision to have Lewis Hamilton run for a mammoth stint on hard tyres as “an experiment” and “bizarre” even though it was paid off with a victory for the Brit at the Mexican Grand Prix.
While the likes of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel went in for a pit, Hamilton stayed out longer to claim P1, in the hopes that his hard tyres could last as long as 47 laps. Even though he was toiling a bit towards the end, the tyres came through and took him to the victory.
There was an element of risk in the strategy, but Wolff admits the team were looking at how Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault was coping with a similar stint.
“We didn't know [if Lewis could make the tyres last]. It was an experiment. We saw that Ricciardo was going strongly and we thought he could make it, but in the car it feels bizarre to make 47 laps on the tyre,” the Mercedes team principal said after the race.”
Mercedes, arguably, were coming into the race on Sunday as third favourites behind Red Bull, who had won the last two races in Mexico, and Ferrari, who have been the in-form team since the summer break.
Wolff thinks the lack of pressure could have benefited the team, though.
"Who would have expected that starting from P3 and P6? Coming out P1 and P3 is rather unusual. It shows it's difficult at the front to take the right decisions in order not to throw away a race win. It's easier when you don't have something to lose."
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