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Mercedes on Hungary tyre choice dilemma: It's more difficult for us than other teams

Mike Elliott, technical director of Mercedes, has detailed why the team ended up making the wrong decision when it came to whether or not to pit Lewis Hamilton at the race restart in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton Hungary 2021 pit
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes have explained why they struggled more than other teams with making the right decision over tyres at the restart of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

In one of the most unusual restarts in Formula 1 history, race leader Lewis Hamilton was the only car to take to the grid whilst every other driver came into the pits for dry tyres, given that the previously damp track was now drying. Hamilton, meanwhile, remained on intermediates and consequently lost the race lead when he had to pit soon afterwards.

Mike Elliott, technical director at Mercedes, admits that the team made the wrong choice but believes that it was more challenging for them as the leaders than it was for those in the following pack.

"Clearly in hindsight we made the wrong choice, but you have to bear in mind those decisions are really, really tricky," Elliott said in Mercedes' post-race debrief video.

"We agonised over what tyre to fit at the very start of the race, as it turned out the inter was definitely the right choice because it started raining on the lap to the grid.

"We agonised over what tyre to fit after the red flag and clearly all of the cars fitted inters. And on that lap to the grid, even though all the drivers had fitted inters, clearly others decided to change their mind and we should have too.

"But the reality is, it's actually more difficult for us as a team than it is for the other teams. When you are the front car, you can't see what everybody else is doing. You are the lead car.

"When you are further back in the chain, you can see what others have done and you can change your mind accordingly. You can use that new evidence to your advantage."

Elliott says that the Silver Arrows were also hampered by their position in the pit lane.

"The second problem for us is that we have the first pit box in the pit lane," Elliott explained. "So, as we’d have come into the pit lane and we'd boxed, all the cars would have been pouring past and it would have been very difficult for Lewis to get out and that would have delayed us.

"The second problem with that or same problem, but another way of looking at it, is if we had tried to force our way out into the pit lane we could have collided with another car and we actually saw that happen in that sequence of pit stops.

"What we were looking at is, what is the best strategy for us? And actually, we were thinking that we wanted to be conservative with that.

"Our main rival was further back and what we needed to do was to not make a silly mistake and end up crashing into another car. As it happened, we would have been better off pitting, even if we had to wait to the back of the queue."

Esteban Ocon went on to win the race, taking his first victory in F1. Hamilton eventually finished in third, though has since been promoted to second after Sebastian Vettel was disqualified.

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