Mercedes fails with strategy: 'We clearly made a stupid mistake'

04-05-2021 12:23 | Updated: 04-05-2021 12:36
F1 News
Mercedes fails with strategy: 'We clearly made a stupid mistake'

With Mercedes and Red Bull Racing so close to each other this season, tactics play an even bigger role. Mercedes no longer has the luxury of having two cars in the lead and that is causing the team to make mistakes.

Early stop of Verstappen

At the Portuguese Grand Prix, Max Verstappen dove in for a pit stop as the first of the top three. "If we had let Bottas stop first, we would probably have come back onto the track before him after Verstappen's pit stop," Mercedes strategists analyse on Auto Motor und Sport. Red Bull's strategy allowed Verstappen to take second place from Bottas.

Mercedes did not dare to stop early and eventually reacted to Verstappen's pit stop. Indeed, the team's biggest fear was that Red Bull could drive on for a long time and possibly take advantage of a safety car. "We saw with Perez that the lap times on the medium tyre quickly collapsed when shy of the stint, but he would certainly have been a problem on the soft tyres on the restart after a safety car."

Silly mistake Mercedes

At the end of the race, Bottas was brought in for an extra pit stop to attempt the fastest lap on new tyres. However, Mercedes did so not two but three laps before the end. "That stop was too early, obviously a stupid mistake. We wanted to make sure that the fastest lap was ours so we took two laps to do that. One lap would have been enough."

Bringing Bottas in too early allowed Verstappen to respond by also going in for new tyres. "We should have known that Verstappen then had enough space to go for the fastest race lap as well." In the end, Verstappen failed to take the fastest lap as he exceeded track limits.

Another option was to bring Bottas in even earlier to give not only Verstappen but also Lewis Hamilton a shot at the fastest lap. "Bringing Bottas in earlier to give Hamilton room to go for the fastest lap would never have worked. Red Bull wouldn't have fallen for this and would have brought Verstappen in as late as possible anyway."

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