Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the team did not feel good in having to make the call for Valtteri Bottas to back off and avoid overtaking Lewis Hamilton with an undercut during their pitstops in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Bottas had been pitted earlier than Hamilton as the team tried to find a way to get past the lead Ferrari cars, but its decision to extend the world champion’s first stint opened up the risk of him falling behind his Finnish teammate.
Just before Hamilton’s stop, Mercedes strategist James Vowles was heard over the radio instructing Bottas to back off by several seconds and hold up the pursuing Alex Albon to ensure that both cars did not leapfrog the British driver.
Wolff confessed that it was not an easy message to deliver, but says it had no choice because of the way the powerful undercut was helping cars that pitted first.
“It's not a great call that we made there, but the undercut was more powerful than everybody expected,” said Wolff. “I don't think that Ferrari wanted to swap their drivers, with letting Sebastian pit first. And we risked Lewis' position by keeping him out in order to protect the win.
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