Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says the team failed to make the most of their opportunities in Russia, despite Lewis Hamilton's win and Valtteri Bottas' fifth-place finish.
Things started out well for the Silver Arrows at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday, as they finished 1-2 in both practice sessions. However, Hamilton and Bottas could only claim P4 and P7 respectively in qualifying, their Q3 unravelling amid the switch from Intermediates to slicks.
While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff made it clear on Saturday that nobody was to blame over the failure to secure pole, Shovlin believes the performance meant the team weren't able to fully exploit their pace on Sunday.
"Overall? No, not really," Shovlin told RacingNews365.com, and other members of the media, when asked if Mercedes maximised every opportunity.
"I think the team could have performed better in qualifying. It was an awfully difficult decision when to swap [tyres], but ultimately, where we qualified affected the race we had quite dramatically.
"We had a very good recovery on that switch to Intermediates, and were able to get the drivers to move forward. Had we not had that rain at the end, it could have been a fairly disappointing finish. We could have had Lewis in second and Valtteri out of the points.
"But really, it was that call in qualifying, and whilst it was difficult, we did go on to dry tyres, we just didn't go quite early enough to get the two laps that you seem to need. That was probably the thing that we'll look at, as our goal is to optimise every race weekend.
"The thing that we would have needed to improve on was that decision."
When asked if Mercedes had the fastest car in Sochi, Shovlin wasn't willing to give a definitive answer, noting that traffic made it difficult to judge their true pace.
"It's difficult to say," Shovlin added. "When we were in free air we were good. We obviously spent a lot of time stuck in traffic, a lot of times stuck behind a McLaren, and you don't get to see the pace.
"We were certainly up there with Red Bull, whether or not we were quicker, it's a bit difficult to say with the race that we had. The single lap was coming easily to us on that C5 [tyre], which is very encouraging, that's a tyre we have struggled on in the past.
"Whether we'd say we had best car is probably a little bit difficult with the mess that qualifying and the race actually was."
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