Mercedes say they rejected trying a fastest-lap attempt with George Russell in Monaco due to the tyres they had left available.
Running P5 in Monaco, the track having dried after earlier rain, Russell briefly looked like a contender to latch on to the Red Bull-Ferrari battle out front, but ultimately was forced to settle for defending P5.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was the driver behind looking for an opportunity to pass, although the pressure was initially relieved when Norris made an extra stop.
That freed Mercedes to do the same with Russell and chase a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race, but they decided to pass on that chance.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has explained how that decision was reached.
Speaking in Mercedes’ Monaco Grand Prix race debrief video, Shovlin said: “This comes down to what was fitted at the restart on that red flag – we decided to put George on the medium tyres for the warm-up.
“You saw Lando go for the harder tyre and that also had been used earlier in the race. So, the converse is that the options for the pit-stop, Lando had new mediums available to him, George only had used hard tyres and that was really why we didn’t decide to come in and go for the fastest lap.”
Despite the time lost from that pit-stop, Norris was able to close in on Russell at a rate of knots, so much so that come the chequered flag he was only a few tenths of a second behind, Mercedes already admitting that with one more lap Norris would have taken P5 from Russell.
With the benefit of hindsight, Mercedes say they should have stopped Russell again too, regardless of whether he could have then chased the fastest lap.
“What we hadn’t expected were Lando’s times to be sustained at such a high rate. We hadn’t expected him to be so close to George at the end of the race,” Shovlin continued.
“If we had known that, with hindsight we would have come in and taken the used hards even if we weren’t going to be in the fight for fastest lap.”
With that P5, Russell moved on to 84 points for the season so far, putting him 34 ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who finished P8 in Monaco.
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