Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has saluted the strategy call the side took in its failed pursuit of victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were running second and fourth respectively when Esteban Ocon’s stricken Alpine saw a Virtual Safety Car period introduced on Lap 44.
Mercedes pitted its cars for a brand-new set of the Medium tyre, with both drivers rapidly reeling in Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, who had stayed out on ageing Hard rubber.
Although the Mercedes pair caught the back of the leading duo with several laps to spare, Russell could not overtake Norris’ McLaren, eventually crashing at Turn 10 on the final lap to hand third place to his team-mate.
Wolff admits he was inspired by the ambitious call of the drivers and the team, claiming that Mercedes had the capacity to secure a 1-2 finish in the best-case scenario.
“We tried to win and we didn’t,” expressed Wolf. “The positives are that I love the call from driver and strategy team to say: ‘We’re going for it’.
“Worst case was second and fifth. [The] Best case, we win or first and second. And our plan showed that at times.”
The eight-time title-winning team boss has backed the decision despite coming up short, adding that it’s a choice he would opt for “every day of the week” in hindsight.
“I think it was the absolute right call, we would have finished P2, P5 – maybe P2, P4, and we wanted to win the race,” he continued.
“So, we took the risk and I would every day of the week do it again.”
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his third position on the podium. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.
Wolff believes Mercedes showcasing the potential to finish first and second in Singapore “on merit” will “energise” the team for the remainder of the campaign.
The Austrian insists the strong performance of the W14 around the Marina Bay Circuit also demonstrates “not everything is wrong” with Mercedes’ 2023 car.
“Overall, I’m happy about the performance,” Wolff underlined. “I’m happy about how the car was all weekend, and I think we gave it our best shot.
“I think this is the positive… we’ve been really strong here, we could have won the race.
“We could have finished first and second on merit and that is what we need to take from here and clearly will energise us even more that, on this particular track, we were strong.
“Not everything is wrong. But then you see on the planner, P1 and P2 popping up at times and you think about ‘Could have been an unbelievable day’ and it’s not.
“But I’d rather then fall back on the positives of this weekend and go back home and say ‘that was a good one’.”
Russell’s race-ending crash witnessed Mercedes lose valuable points in the standings to Ferrari, who scored the first non-Red Bull victory in 2023 through Sainz.
The Italian outfit has reduced the margin to the Brackley-based squad to only 24 points ahead of this weekend’s round in Japan.