Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff has described his squad’s race-damaging pit stop sequence in Bahrain as a “colossal f*** up”.
With a Safety Car deployed following a spin for Williams’ Jack Aitken, Mercedes brought George Russell and Valtteri Bottas into the pit lane for fresh tyres.
However, in the confusion, Russell was fitted with part of Bottas’ tyre allocation and had mixed compounds on his car, forcing him to box again on the following lap.
The resulting uncertainty that followed saw a pit stop of over 27 seconds for Bottas, leading to both Mercedes cars dropping off the podium, after running first and second for much of the grand prix.
“Overall for us it was a colossal f*** up,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “I know I’m not allowed to say that but it was.
“Simply one of the tyre crews didn’t hear the call, we had a radio failure in the garage and when the car came in they didn’t know we had the wrong tyres and this is why we exited with the wrong tyres.”
Wolff admits that Mercedes could have kept both of its cars out on the Hard tyres that were fitted previously in the race, but decided to pit as it had a comfortable gap to the field.
“It was a safety stop,” Wolff asserted. “We were fine on the Hards and we could have stayed out but we had the gap and you do these things. You can question it but I think it’s absolutely the right call.”
With Russell only crossing the line in ninth after looking to be on for the win, Wolff affirms that the Briton’s impressive weekend is “just the beginning of a fairytale”.
“It was very emotional because you are in your first race with Mercedes and you should have won it actually, driving a monumental race and there’s not a lot you can say.
“It’s not going to be his last attempt to win a race, it’s just the beginning of a fairytale. It didn’t work out today but I would say a new star is born.”