Expressing their expected dominance in the first race of the 2016 season, Mercedes claimed a one-two finish at the Australian Grand Prix as team boss Toto Wolff said their choice of tyres were big factor.
In the hopes of gaining some advantage after poor starts from Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, Wolff explained that they decided to go on medium compound tyres after a red flag was waved for Fernando Alonso’s crash with Esteban Gutierrez in the hopes not making another stop, which proved successful.
“Clearly the medium tyre after the restart was the key to the victory,” Wolff, who credited chief strategist James Vowles for the decision, told f1i.com.
“We were actually quite surprised by the tyre choices of the other ones [teams] and at that stage, it’s important to say that James and his team have done a really awesome job with making the right calls at the right time.”
“The easier call was for Lewis,” he continued. “Because we knew the cars in front of him, Sainz, Verstappen and Ricciardo, that we wouldn’t be able to overtake them on track.
“We saw how difficult it was with (Max) Verstappen before, so the one stop was pretty obvious. Even though that’s probably not the race that suits Lewis best, who likes to attack on a tyre that makes that possible.
“For Nico it was the more difficult call up front to decide if we wanted to make it a defensive strategy and stick on the one stop, or make him compete with the other guys on the same tyres.”
However, the Austrian explained that had the red flag not been waved, he is not sure what the outcome of the race would have been and also added that it was a strange decision that other teams decided to go on the softs.
“We knew that it could come towards us,” he said.
“But because we didn’t have a lot of information about the medium [tyre], relying on last year’s assumptions and what we’ve seen at the test, it was good that we ran the medium quite a lot.
“It looked like we could survive and make it last. So, obviously the race went really badly against Ferrari.”