Despite Valtteri Bottas’ outstanding performance at Istanbul Park today as he took a dominant win, the focus of attention was on Mercedes’ main man Lewis Hamilton as a mistake on strategy cost him a shot at the podium.
Mercedes team boss spoke about the decision for Hamilton to stay on track after the Red Bulls, Leclerc and Gasly had pitted before him.
The team had wanted to bring the seven-time World Champion in much sooner than it happened, but the Brit overruled them.
''In the car it’s always very difficult to assess your position in the race,'' the Austrian said
''I think we could have either played it very conservative, pitted him when Verstappen, Perez at the time pitted and then fight it out on track. [We] probably come out behind Perez and fight for P4, P3 on track.
''The other thing was to try to go long and either thing where’s it’s transitioning to a dry tyre or just not stopping anymore. There was two possible options that sounded quite good because finishing 5th where we were, we would have done that because Gasly was far away.
''Unfortuantely the pace just dropped off, much quicker than we would have needed in order to stay 3rd or even 4th or even 5th.
We almost lost the window against Gasly and then we decided 'okay that’s not gonna happen, let’s pit and consolidate 5th'.
''In hindsight now would we have pitted ten laps earlier and fought it out on track? Probably, and finished 3rd or 4th – but there was much more to gain from the more dynamic variant.''
Wolff doesn’t believe that losing a potential P3 and five points today is going to ultimately cost them the Drivers’ Championship with Lewis Hamilton as DNFs must be avoided.
''The whole season swings back and forth,'' he said.
''We make mistakes together, we win together. We have much bigger swings in the past with lost opportunities and this one today was a very close call. We decided for one thing and it went wrong.
''At the end we lost eight points today to Red Bull with a grid penalty – and Red Bull last week were happy with a seven-point loss. It’s going to be very tight until the end.
''DNFs are going to make the big difference; that was also a consideration today... not three, four or five-point swings.
''I think we need to walk away from here and say that was damage limitation for this weekend.''
At the past two races, there has been back and forth on the radio between Lewis Hamilton and Peter Bonnington [Hamilton’s race engineer] as they’ve had strong conversations about critical tyre calls and when to pit. While it worked in Russia, it backfired today.
Wolff admits that communication is something they need to work on as they prepare for the final six events of an engrossing season.
''It’s very difficult because the communication needs to flow in both directions and that’s crucial,'' he said.
''The pilot is the vital sense on track that will tell you about the grip levels, but the pilot doesn’t seem himself relative to the other drivers and the other performances. That information we need to work on.
''We’ve had what Lewis called a genius stroke in terms of strategy last time around and I think we just need to work really on the communication to trust each other and in a way be able to describe what we’re aiming for.
''We have no problem at all with tough conversations on the radio before you have complete information.
''Obviously we wouldn’t speak like this to Lewis because he’s driving at 320km/h, but that’s all okay.
''We’re totally aligned; we’ve been in this together eight years and we’ve thick enough skin to understand that a driver in the car is frustrated about the situation... [and] that he will understand afterwards.