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Wolff - McLaren 'could only lose' in Sochi downpour

Wolff - McLaren 'could only lose' in Sochi downpour

F1 News

Wolff - McLaren 'could only lose' in Sochi downpour

Wolff - McLaren 'could only lose' in Sochi downpour

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes McLaren could "only lose" as rain fell late in the Russian Grand Prix.

With four laps remaining and rainfall increasing in the middle sector of the Sochi Autodrom, Mercedes called Lewis Hamilton into the pits for intermediate tyres.

The decision fell on a knife-edge at the time with both drivers insisting dry tyres were the correct compound but whilst Hamilton listened to his team, Norris continued on and was met with a completely wet track, proving Mercedes' decision was the correct one.

“We were in a way braced for the tough end, whether we could overtake Lando on track or not," said Wolff.

"Then the rain hit and obviously things got pretty erratic at that stage.

“I understand why it was so difficult for McLaren to take this decision to stay out or come in because as a leader, you can only lose.

“We benefitted from that and it is spectacular for the fans I guess.”

Mercedes was caught out by a similar 'no-win' scenario in Hungary, with Hamilton taking the Hungarian GP restart from the grid on intermediate tyres as the rest of the field pitted for slicks.

Asked of his confidence that Hamilton could have found a way past Norris in dry conditions, Wolff explained: “It’s difficult to say because Lewis was stuck behind Ricciardo at the beginning of the race although we had DRS.

"I think it would have been difficult to pass. They had a fast car and it was well managed from his side."

Mercedes "weather frog" makes difficult call

Hamilton was not the first driver to pit for intermediate tyres with team-mate Valtteri Bottas among those to stop a lap earlier.

Although Hamilton was confident on the radio he could keep his Mercedes on the road and did not feel the conditions were too bad, it was the pit wall and "weather frog" that made the final call.

“I think for a driver it is always very difficult when half of the track is dry and the other is just a bit humid," said Wolff.

"But we knew that the big weather was coming. So Valtteri pitted the lap before and then our weather frog and the strategists were adamant to pit.”

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