Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he "fully understands" the contentious decision to switch Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to a two-stop strategy in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Vettel had managed to pass Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for second at the start, and looked on course to be runner-up before making a second stop under virtual safety car conditions two-thirds into the race.
With none of his rivals following suit, he emerged fourth – and was not able to get back ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen for the final podium spot.
Wolff, whose cars made a single stop each and brought home a 1-2, said after the race that Vettel's VSC stop did not come as a surprise.
He reckoned Ferrari was trying to follow Red Bull's example from the Chinese Grand Prix, and said his own team was considering the strategy – deciding against it in part due to Lewis Hamilton's struggles to pass Verstappen earlier in the race.
"It's always a very difficult call to make," he said. "We had it in the past, Shanghai was trading track position versus fresh tyres.
"And we debated it today again, and based on the experience we made of struggling to overtake Max, for us it was clear that track position was more important.
"Ferrari did the opposite - you saw that it worked out for [Daniel] Ricciardo and Verstappen in Shanghai, I think this is what they were thinking.
"Always very difficult calls to make. I fully understand why they did it."
Speaking about the decision, Vettel said sticking to a one-stop like the Mercedes cars had was "not an option" for him.
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