Mercedes: Red Bull's Chinese GP winning strategy 'not on our radar'

Adam Cooper and Andrew van Leeuwen
Autosport
Mercedes: Red Bull strategy 'wasn't on our radar'
Mercedes: Red Bull strategy 'wasn't on our radar'

The Mercedes Formula 1 team never properly considered putting Lewis Hamilton on the strategy that led to Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull's Chinese Grand Prix win, boss Toto Wolff admits.

Red Bull's quick decision to pit both its drivers for fresh soft rubber during a mid-race safety car at Shanghai paid off with Ricciardo winning and Max Verstappen looking set for a podium before colliding with Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was sandwiched between the two Red Bull drivers in fourth when the safety car appeared, but stayed out on used medium compound tyres and ended up still fourth at the finish.

Wolff denied that his team was too focused on the Ferraris rather than Red Bulls at that stage of the race, saying Mercedes was just convinced sticking to a one-stop plan was better.

"The Ferraris and the Mercedes decided on the same strategy, we stayed out," he said.

"I don't think it was a matter of focus, it was a matter of the quickest race. And that it was our simulations showed.

"I'm not sure if Red Bull was surprised by their own pace, but we were and everyone else was.

"In these conditions that was the right thing to do. It wasn't on our radar."

Mercedes: Red Bull strategy 'wasn't on our radar'
Mercedes: Red Bull strategy 'wasn't on our radar'

Mercedes' data suggested that new tyres would not give enough of an advantage to make up for sacrificing places on track by pitting.

"We thought at the time that track position would be more beneficial," said Wolff.

"You could see in the first stint there was no overtaking.

"Lewis's tyre was a medium at that stage, barely 10 laps on.

"Our calculation predicted that a medium would last until the end and putting on a new soft we thought wouldn't give you such a performance advantage.

"[The advantage was] much more than we expected.

"Looking back, it would have been for sure the right strategy to go for the second soft - but nobody in the team, including myself, thought that it was the right thing to do."

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