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Toto Wolff

Wolff explains how Verstappen made Hamilton tyre call 'a bit easier'

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th victory in F1 at the Russian Grand Prix, but Toto Wolff thinks that the World Champion's chances of achieving this before the rain fell in the final laps were quite slim.

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To news overview © Mercedes

Toto Wolff admits that the decision to call in Lewis Hamilton for Intermediate tyres during the Russian Grand Prix was made easier by observing what title rival Max Verstappen was doing.

The seven-time World Champion had been in second place behind leader Lando Norris when the rain started to fall into the final laps.

After some of the cars behind them – including Verstappen – started to come into the pits, Mercedes opted to pit Hamilton too. Meanwhile, Norris stayed out on slicks but struggled, resulting in Hamilton overtaking him for the lead. Norris eventually finished in seventh.

Whilst the fact that Norris initially chose to stay out could have potentially made the Silver Arrows question their strategy call, Wolff says that their focus on the championship battle with Verstappen made them feel more confident about the decision.

"It is [nerve-wracking when the driver you're racing stays out], but of course we are racing Verstappen," Wolff told Sky Sports.

"He went for the Inters as well, and you want to protect the position against him, so it maybe made our call a little bit easier.

"When you're leading the race it's always tough to make the right decision."

Hamilton might have claimed his 100th win in Sochi – and retaken the lead in the World Championship standings in the process – but Wolff doubts whether this would have been possible if the race had remained dry, given some earlier struggles to overtake.

"I think it would have been very difficult," the Mercedes Team Principal explained. "Because we struggled to overtake [Daniel] Ricciardo, even with the DRS.

"I think Norris managed it pretty well, so it would have been difficult, but who knows?"

Hamilton now leads Verstappen in the title fight by two points, whilst Mercedes have a 33-point advantage over Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Russian Grand Prix

The latest news about the Russian Grand Prix straight from Sochi

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