Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team lacked strategic options after Valtteri Bottas queried the defensive nature of the approach at Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Bottas dropped to fourth on the opening lap of the race but swiftly overhauled Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, though remained adrift of leaders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas came in for his first stop on lap 16, three laps after Hamilton, joining the Briton on Hard tyres, with Verstappen exchanging tyres one lap later.
Mercedes called Bottas in for his second stop on lap 30, two laps later than Hamilton, while Verstappen stayed out until lap 39 of the 56-lap race.
Any prospects Bottas had of reeling in the leaders were undone by a slow tyre change and he duly came in for a third time in the closing stages, taking on fresh tyres to grab the fastest lap.
“From my side, at least for me and strategy-wise we went defensive side instead of attacking, which I’m quite surprised by and it’s not quite normal,” said Bottas in the immediate aftermath.
Wolff sympathised with Bottas’ plight but reckons Mercedes was unable to extract more from his race.
“I think there wasn’t any strategy on the table,” said Wolff. “Because we tried to undercut also with Valtteri that I think would change race for him or make his race not…
“The outcome we wouldn’t wish for was that he lost a position at the start of the race and he kind of couldn’t recover the gap to the two guys in front.
“The pitstop was there to undercut Max, and I think we would probably have been successful, but we had a problem with the right front wheel gun.
“And then I don’t know what other strategy we could have run. The one stop was clearly not possible. The Medium wouldn’t have made it to the end, the Hard in the middle stage was running out of performance. There was no other option available.
“I totally understand the frustration in the car when you have limited information and say ‘I think we could have done something else.’”