Mercedes director of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin has explained the sudden pace loss of Charles Leclerc was behind the team's decision to 'cut our losses' and pit Lewis Hamilton late in the Turkish Grand Prix.
Hamilton vented his frustration via the team radio at the decision to pit with eight laps remaining that dropped him from third to fifth, meaning he left Istanbul with a six-point deficit in the championship to Max Verstappen after the Dutchman finished second.
Explaining what had sparked the decision to pit Hamilton with so few laps remaining, Shovlin said: "When we had seen Charles drop off in the Ferrari, you could see it comes quite quickly.
“We’d started to see a bit of a drop with Lewis anyway and with the planners, suddenly we were seeing that those places that we lost by doing the stop, we were going to lose anyway on track, to [Sergio] Perez, to Charles.
"There was even a risk that was growing from behind [with Pierre Gasly] if you really dropped off the curve."
Hamilton could have won if slick option prevailed
After the race, Hamilton claimed it was his hope that he would be able to stop late and make progress on slick tyres, avoiding a two-stop race by remaining on his original set of intermediates for the majority of the distance.
With the track never properly drying, this option failed to materialise, but at the time Mercedes was focused on securing an unlikely victory.
"Lewis obviously had that fight with Perez and shortly after that, when he decided to stop, the question for us was A, are we certainly going to have to take another set of intermediates?" added Shovlin.
“We thought we would wait and see because that opened up two possibilities because one was, if it transitions to dry, Lewis is suddenly back in the fight for a win because he has made a whole load of race time back by not having to do the extra stop.
“The other one was can he actually get to the end on the intermediate and by doing that, banking that position, that P3.
“So those were the scenarios we were looking at, certainly the upside scenarios of a possibility of winning in the dry or P3 if we could make it all that way."
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