Mercedes has revealed that it opted against a precautionary late pit stop for Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix, moments before his tyre deflation.
Mercedes held a comfortable 1-2 at Silverstone but second-placed Valtteri Bottas suffered a left-front tyre deflation on lap 50 of 52.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came in at the end of lap 50 for a tyre change but Mercedes kept Hamilton out – only for the leader to suffer a deflation through Brooklands on the final lap.
At that stage Hamilton held a 34-second advantage but that buffer rapidly reduced as he dragged his W11 across the remainder of the lap.
Hamilton ultimately crossed the line just 5.8s clear of Verstappen to record his third successive victory and seventh triumph at the British Grand Prix.
“It was exactly the discussion we had with the pit wall – are we pitting or not,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“We had the gap, enough gap to Max, but it was only one lap to go so the decision that was taken was not to pit.
“Everything looked fine at the stage, we saw Lewis’ tyre was in a better state than Valtteri’s and it still looked a little bit random and then obviously everything unfolded, the picture of Sainz on the screen and then a few moments later we saw Lewis with the puncture.
“In hindsight, afterwards, probably a pit stop would have been better but at the end we don’t know the root cause of the failure. It could also have been debris.
“A newer tyre would have had more integrity and rubber and probably protected better against debris, so we will learn from that and probably pit if the tyres are in a bad condition.”
Wolff went on to suggest that Mercedes’ drivers were previously pushing “a little bit beyond” the team’s desires but felt it unwise to ask either to ease off the pace.
“Valtteri was complaining about heavy vibration that almost went to a point that his vision was heavily impacted,” he said.
“Certainly they were pushing each other, maybe a little bit beyond what we would have wanted as a team, but I guess you need to let them race.
“We warned them the tyres needed to make it to the end, they were both aware that they could lose P1 or P2 with a failure, and they’re very experienced, so it’s down to their decision once they got all the input from us.
“I don’t want to interfere. We can’t say to Valtteri ‘back off and let’s cruise home’ and we didn’t do that.”