Toto Wolff was left to rue the mistakes during the Bahrain Grand Prix that cost the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team the chance of victory and allow Sebastian Vettel to take his second win in three races.
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport saw his drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finish second and third at the Bahrain International Circuit, but remains confident in his team that they can fight back and return to winning ways against the in-form Scuderia Ferrari outfit.
“Today’s race reminded us once again that we are in a very different competitive situation this year, racing against Ferrari – and I am confident that this is a challenge we will rise to as one team,” said Wolff.
“After a winter of massive regulation change, we have been in the hunt for race wins at every weekend and that is the big positive for us. But today was another reminder that we need to get everything right in order to deliver. That’s a challenge we relish as sportsmen and women.”
Wolff revealed that a generator failure left Bottas with tyre pressures that were too high for the race start that prevented the Finn from pulling out a gap out front, while both drivers suffered more problems during the pit stops behind the safety car due to wheel gun issues that ultimately allowed Vettel to take the lead.
“Ultimately, this was a day of marginal losses which cost us the win – however, as we saw particularly with Lewis, the pace was there in the car at the times when we were able to extract it,” said Wolff.
“Our first loss came on the grid when a generator failure left Valtteri with too high starting pressures; that limited his pace in the opening stint, meaning we could not open a gap to the field and, with Lewis running behind Vettel, our strategic choices were pretty limited.
“We were on the back foot and then Ferrari played the undercut perfectly to come out ahead. We got lucky with the Safety Car which gave us an opportunity to recover but a problem with the wheel guns meant we lost time and positions with both cars.”
Wolff was forced to make the call to allow Bottas to let Hamilton passed in order to give the Briton the best chance of chasing down the gap to Vettel, but the five-second penalty for Hamilton for going unnecessarily slowly and backing up Daniel Ricciardo behind the safety car left him with too much work to do.
“With the cars running different tyre compounds, we had to make the tough unpopular call for Valtteri to let Lewis pass; it’s not something we like to do but, when the moment comes that the race win is in danger, we will always do what we need to in order to get it,” insisted Wolff.
“After that, we offset Lewis’ strategy as much as possible to give him the chance of closing down Sebastian in the final laps, but after he had served the five-second penalty, it left him with too much to do.
“We leave Bahrain with a lot more learning and still more work to do, in order to perform at our best and convert the car’s speed into race wins.”