Toto Wolff has revealed an early error from Valtteri Bottas at turn three was the catalyst for Mercedes' downfall at the French Grand Prix.
Bottas was the first of the frontrunners to pit at Paul Ricard, triggering an early pit-stop window that ultimately allowed Max Verstappen to undercut Lewis Hamilton and gain the high ground before going on to win and extend his F1 title lead.
Asked on Sky Sports F1 if the team was too greedy by attempting to undercut Verstappen with the Finn so early, Wolff replied: "No, we had no choice.
"Valtteri's tyre had started to have a vibration and towards the end we were really worried that the vibration came through the suspension already, so he could have had a failure at any time because he flat-spotted the tyres.
"We knew that we would trigger the stops too early, but we had no choice."
On why Bottas wasn't pitted for a second time in an attempt to take the fastest lap bonus point away from Verstappen, Wolff added: "Well we thought maybe Perez gets a penalty for overtaking outside the track limits.
"So we said to stay within five seconds so it was really balancing between that penalty or nicking the fastest lap. We gambled, we lost [as the stewards took no action]."
Wolff bemused by losing out in pit stops
After Verstappen ran wide at turn one to gift Hamilton the race lead on a plate, the team was left red-faced as the Dutchman overhauled a two-and-a-half second deficit to undercut the seven-time champion.
Assessing the race, Wolff explained: "Well it went back and forwards.
"We were in the lead because Max made the mistake so that was a bit inherited.
"Then our pace was good, probably a little bit of a margin even, but we had just about three seconds gap to protect the undercut but it wasn't enough so we were lacking a second where somewhere we lost it."