In hindsight Mercedes concedes that if they could redo the Brazilian GP they would not stop Hamilton behind the second and last Safety Car of the afternoon.
Hamilton was in contention for the victory throughout the first 66 laps of the 71-lap grand prix.
That, though, ended when he pitted late in the race when the Safety Car came out after the Ferrari team-mates crashed.
Mercedes took the gamble that Hamilton would drop from first to third but, as a result of Lance Stroll also retiring, the Safety Car was out longer than they expected.
“When we decided to call Lewis in on that final Safety Car, we had seen that the Ferraris had collided,” trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained to Mercedes’ Pure Pit Wall.
“One of them was off at Turn Four and reasonably clear of the track.
“Vettel was making his way round with a puncture, that was dropping a bit of debris, but we thought he would get back to the pits.
“At the point the Safety Car was called, Lewis was at turn 12, so there wasn’t long for us to discuss this decision.
“Subsequent to that, Vettel pulled over before he made it back, although he was reasonably clear of the track, but Stroll unfortunately got taken out by debris from Vettel.
“This meant that the Safety Car period was longer than we might have got away with.”
👉 Lewis' late stop
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Hamilton fell to fourth and, in trying to pass Alexander Albon for position, hit the Red Bull driver resulting in a five-second penalty that dropped him from third to seventh.
Shovlin continued: “Regardless of that, we’ve looked at the situation [and] it was a real gamble.
“Probably in the best-case scenario we’d have made it back to where we started in second and on reflection it wasn’t a good call.
“So, were we doing the race again, that’s the single decision that we’d really like to change.”