“Even if it meant that we might leave the door open for Lando to take the win”– Mercedes was willing to let McLaren take the win until it stopped Max Verstappen.
The Russian Grand Prix was defined by the last-minute judgements by the drivers, as those calls re-shuffled the whole final standings of the race, including the race winner.
Though Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took the win, Mercedes’ technical director Andrew Shovlin said the team’s main objective was to cover Max Verstappen, even if it meant to give away Lando Norris the race win.
“We just tried to get him in the next lap,” Shovlin told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com, after the race, when asked about what they had done when Hamilton ignored the initial call.
“And the key point that we were thinking to get across to him was that Max had stopped. With Max having stopped, then he’s certainly keen that we shadow what he’s doing, even if it meant that we might leave the door open for Lando to take the win.
“The other thing we just had to get across was that we thought the rain was going to get heavier. Therefore, jumping early was going to be better.
“With all these things, it’s very much a case of getting the right information to the driver, because we were quite clear what we wanted to do,” he added.
“They haven’t got the luxury of rain radars and things, and it’s just a case of making sure that they can understand why it is we’re trying to take that decision.”
Valtteri Bottas’ case helped to make the decision
Apart from covering Verstappen, Mercedes’ decision to push Hamilton for pitstop was after seeing results in Bottas’ added pace, as he was the first to take the intermediaries.
“Our decision-making was helped by the fact that Valtteri was out of the points, [so] he had nothing to lose,” Shovlin explained. “We were the first to make the jump and then,” said Shovlin.
“Seeing how the tyres worked on his car, we followed suit with Lewis soon after, but certainly not leading the race makes it a bit easier to take those decisions.”