Toto Wolff says he understands why Scuderia Ferrari took the option to pit Sebastian Vettel during the Virtual Safety Car period, with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team boss admitting they considered doing the same only to feel track position was more important around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Vettel was running second in the race when the VSC was called to recover the stranded car of Esteban Ocon from the side of the road on the exit of turn four, with the German jumping into the pits for a fresh set of medium tyres, but a small delay in the pits cost him not only second to Valtteri Bottas but also third place to Max Verstappen.
Mercedes considered following suit but after seeing Bottas fail to get close enough to Vettel in the opening phase of the race, they took the gamble to leave the Finn out, a gamble that ultimately paid off as the team took their first one-two finish of the season.
“It’s always a very difficult call to make,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “We had it in the past, Shanghai was trading track position versus fresh tyres.
“And we debated it today again, and based on the experience we made of struggling to overtake Max, for us it was clear that track position was more important.
“Ferrari did the opposite – you saw that it worked out for [Daniel] Ricciardo and Verstappen in Shanghai, I think this is what they were thinking. “Always very difficult calls to make. I fully understand why they did it.”