Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has revealed Valtteri Bottas' early retirement allowed Lewis Hamilton a "straightforward" run to equalling one of Formula 1's all-time landmarks
Hamilton took the lead in Sunday's Eifel Grand Prix from team-mate Bottas when the Finn locked up and flat-spotted his soft tyres on lap 13.
With the car suffering from vibrations, it necessitated an earlier-than-planned stop and an alternative strategy, only for his race to end five laps later with a power unit problem.
With Bottas out of the equation, it meant Hamilton only had to keep an eye on Red Bull's Max Verstappen en route to securing his 91st grand prix victory and matching the feat of Michael Schumacher.
“In that first stint it certainly wasn’t shaping up to be a straightforward race for Lewis because Max [Verstappen] wasn’t that far behind," said Shovlin.
"At the time Valtteri had the problem we weren’t close to triggering pit stops.
“But certainly once Valtteri had that lock up and was forced into the early stop you saw that Lewis was in control of the race and all the decisions for us were made by the VSC, by the safety car."
Shovlin also confirmed that prior to the late safety car period caused by Lando Norris' retirement, Mercedes had been considering pitting Hamilton for fresh rubber.
As this would have dropped Hamilton behind Verstappen, the decision was made to allow Red Bull to blink first and then make the call.
He added: “It was a lot of thinking about that final stint, whether you go to the end or would the tyres go to the end, do we want to break it up and two-stop the race.
"But because Lewis had built that gap to Max, we weren’t going to pull that trigger. We would just wait for them to make the call and then we would have shadowed them.
“So actually it was a very straightforward race in that regard. We had the pace to build the gaps and Lewis was able to build them when we needed them and that was why it was a relatively straightforward race.”
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