Formula 1

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “We need to understand the great pace of the Red Bulls on their out laps”

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Credit: LAT Images

Toto Wolff says the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team will need to look into what happened during the French Grand Prix on Sunday, with the team losing out on victory on the penultimate lap to Red Bull Racing.

Lewis Hamilton led early on at the Circuit Paul Ricard but dropped behind Max Verstappen during the pit stops early on as Red Bull made use of the undercut by pitting the Dutchman two laps earlier than the reigning World Champion.

Verstappen then pitted again and fell to fourth but, on fresher tyres, was able to catch and pass Valtteri Bottas for second and then Hamilton for the lead.  The decisive move for the win came on the penultimate lap.

Both Hamilton and Bottas struggled for tyre performance in the closing stages, which made the latter also easy prey for the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez, meaning Mercedes saw a potential one-two finish become a two-four finish.

Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says the pace of the Red Bull’s straight out of the pits made all the difference, and they will be looking into how they can improve their own tyre warm-up for the upcoming races.

Today went back and forwards, we were in the lead because Max made the mistake but our overall pace was good – maybe a little bit of a margin, even,” said Wolff. “We created a 3 second gap for the undercut, to protect it, but it wasn’t enough and we came out of the pits a few tenths behind.

“In the first stint, Valtteri’s tyre started to have a vibration early on and we were really worried. We knew that by pitting we were going to trigger the stops too early but we had no choice. The guys managed their hard tyres well after that but in the end it wasn’t enough.

“We have lots to learn from today and we need to understand the great pace of the Red Bulls on their out laps. It’s something we’ll look at to help us improve but I think we had a solid racing car today and I’m glad it was an exciting race, we love entertainment too.”

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