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F1 | Russian GP | Mercedes willing to lose win to cover off title rival Verstappen

After the race in Sochi, Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes trackside engineering director, explained that the team was willing to let Lando Norris have the win by making Lewis Hamilton pit from second place late in the race. He said that their priority was fighting Max Verstappen.

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F1 | Russian GP | Mercedes willing to lose win to cover off title rival Verstappen
Fuente imagen: Mercedes F1 twitter

Up until Hamilton was pitted late in the race, he had been right behind Lando Norris, who had been leading from the start, but struggled to get past him before rain started to fall. The conditions started reeling between wet and dry, and Norris stayed on track while the Mercedes driver boxed to change to intermediate tyres.

The Brackley-based team radioed Hamilton in after his title rival boxed on lap 48 from sixth place, he ignored that first call, but the team had to emphasize to Lewis what Max had done, leading the reigning World Champion to follow instructions on the following lap. Shovlin explained that Mercedes went into the stop with the mindset of sacrificing the win to cover off the Red Bull driver.

When Shovlin was asked about what they had done when Hamilton ignored the first call, he told some members of the media "We just tried to get him in the next lap.”

"And the key point that we were thinking to get across to him was that Max had stopped. With Max having stopped, then he's certainly keen that we shadow what he's doing. Even if it meant that we might leave the door open for Lando to take the win.

"The other thing we just had to get across was that we thought the rain was going to get heavier. Therefore, jumping early was going to be better.

"With all these things, it's very much a case of getting the right information to the driver, because we were quite clear what we wanted to do. They haven't got the luxury of rain radars and things, and it's just a case of making sure that they can understand why it is we're trying to take that decision."

Mercedes brought Valtteri Bottas to the pits from 14th place on Lap 47 to make the switch to intermediates, becoming one of the first to do so. With the Finn’s immediate pace change, the team decided to make the call to bring in Hamilton.

"Our decision-making was helped by the fact that Valtteri was out of the points, [so] he had nothing to lose," Shovlin expressed.

"We were the first to make the jump and then, seeing how the tyres worked on his car, we followed suit with Lewis soon after, but certainly not leading the race makes it a bit easier to take those decisions."

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