Hamilton switched to the medium compound after 48 laps. Subsequently, the safety car came out. Verstappen, Leclerc and Russell pitted for soft tires – all used tyres. Verstappen and Leclerc pitted after 56 laps, Russell a lap later.
Hamilton then restarted the race in the 61st lap. Verstappen overtook him almost immediately, Russell and Leclerc a few laps later. Hamilton didn’t get on the podium and was really upset.
“We are the first to strike for the drivers,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “There are emotions. You’re so close, you’re racing for the win, and then someone takes a chance on you. It’s clear that the emotions will show.’
“The rider is in the cockpit, he’s there alone, he can’t see what’s going on. We’ll talk about it in a moment.’
Wolff said the team had agreed before the race that they would be bold in their strategic decisions in their bid to secure their first win of the season.
“Are we going to take risks to win the race? Yes, we take risks,” he said. “He had medium tires that were five laps old. It was right to hold the position.’
“It didn’t work out for him in the end, but I’d rather risk Lewis and I winning the race than finishing second and third.”
According to Wolff, none of the alternative options available to Mercedes would have increased its chances of victory.
“We could have done two things. Sending Lewis to the pits, losing track position to Verstappen and leaving George on track. We’d be screwed. We could call both of them into the pits. We’d be screwed too. So it was worth the risk.”
“We could have left both of them on the track, but we would have been guaranteed second and third place and with Lewis we would not have been competing for the win.”