Mercedes reveal reasons for not splitting strategies at Mexico City Grand Prix

Sam Cooper
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is chased by a Red Bull. Mexico October 2022

Mercedes have explained they did not split their strategies in Mexico as they believed it would have weakened the team’s chances.

As the cars lined up at the start in Mexico City, it was noticeable that Mercedes had opted for the medium tyres while Red Bull were on the softs.

In the end, the choice of strategy did not work out with the medium tyre proving to be longer lasting than expected and the hard tyre not as quick as Mercedes had hoped for.

With that in mind, it was put to Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director James Vowles that it would have been the more “aggressive” option to split George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s strategies – but Vowles believes that would have done more harm than good.

“First of all I pick up the term aggressive,” he said in his post-race debrief.

“By starting on the medium, which is a big difference relative to both Ferrari and Red Bull, that is sort of aggressive in many forms because you are doing something very different to them.

“We believed that Red Bull would be a faster race car, so doing exactly the same thing as they were doing probably won’t lead to a race win but starting on the medium, if the soft degrades more than we were expecting it to or the medium degrades more than we expected to so a one stop is just simply not possible anymore.

“That now means the medium/hard one stop creates an opportunity that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

“As for why we didn’t split them on the grid, we had two cars in a strong position and felt that actually we could weaken ourselves by splitting them as it was it probably would have been George on the soft and who knows whether he would have kept that position or not but had he dropped back having a car on Ssoft behind one on medium creates complications.”

Even if Mercedes did not plan to split their drivers, they could have reacted during the race and done so, Vowles admitted they should have done exactly that.

“The next element of it is why didn’t we split them later on which is a question I have covered off we should have, I think George should have been on the soft.

“What it would change? I am not sure at this state. What I can say though is, rewind the race, what would we do differently? We wouldn’t split them but we would have started both on soft.

“I don’t think it would have made a dramatic difference to where Lewis was, he would have finished second but George definitely lost out at the start of the race and I think the extra grip may have helped him to hold on to the position there.

“So second or third may have been possible and we definitely would have been close to [Max] Verstappen on how we were racing.”

Mercedes are in a battle for P2 with Ferrari and now trail the Italian team by 40 points with two races to go.

Read more: Toto Wolff would choose a race victory over beating Ferrari to second