Toto Wolff has revealed Mercedes was forced to take "some risks" in its bid to clinch a Dutch Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton but that ultimately "50 per cent" of the race was lost in qualifying.
Hamilton was second best to race-winner Max Verstappen throughout the event at Zandvoort, limiting the damage to a six-point swing in the drivers' championship as the Red Bull driver now leads by three points.
Mercedes had hoped it had the advantage on strategy, with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas second and third on the grid behind Verstappen on pole.
At Hamilton's first two stops, however, the gap to Verstappen to perform the undercut was unbridgeable, with the second appearing to go particularly awry when the seven-time champion was pitched into traffic.
“It was important to take some risks, and we didn’t think that they [Red Bull] would take the hard," said team principal Wolff, referring to Verstappen's second stop for tyres.
"It was a bit of uncharted territory. Our thought was to push them into an early second stop with the softs that could have given us a chance at the end.
“That is why we weren’t particularly bothered with the traffic, where we would come out. They took the hard, they risked a bit and it won them the race.”
Wolff feels that on a track that lived up to its billing of proving hard to overtake, one of the mains issues for Mercedes was failing to claim pole, with Hamilton missing out by just 0.038secs.
"In terms of the strategy, we must say that 50 per cent of the race was probably lost in qualifying," added Wolff. "At the start, they just had tremendous pace.
“I think if we would have been ahead - emphasis on would have been - we would have had the pace, too."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.