Mercedes missed out on a podium in the Singapore Grand Prix because it got its race weekend execution wrong, according to team principal Toto Wolff.
Lewis Hamilton started from second on the grid and Valtteri Bottas fifth, with the Finn being unhappy about his qualifying preparation after being overtaken by his teammate just before the final attempts. Hamilton then finished fourth after being undercut by both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in the race, and Wolff says Mercedes made a number of errors.
“We are not losing sleep about (the championship picture) but I can tell you that we are all angry,” Wolff said. “I can tell you that we had a little get-together with the engineers and the drivers and there’s a general feeling of, ‘We got it wrong, we got it so wrong this weekend’.
“The mood that we all feel, and we all felt coming together, is just annoyance, that we just lost too many opportunities. There is nobody in the team that hasn’t got that feeling.
“We didn’t optimize what we could have optimized. I think the main missed opportunity was qualifying. This is the most decisive thing in Singapore.
“We missed the opportunity of the undercut that maybe even surprised Ferrari, how powerful it was, and from then on it was about protecting the position against Max or going for the win, which was maybe probably a small percentage but we took the risk of sacrificing third, with the support of Valtteri obviously in that situation.
“It was a bit of a gamble, and you could see that probably Ferrari had a different end (result) in the mind as well.”
Bottas was asked to slow down to allow Hamilton to emerge ahead of him in fourth place after the championship leader’s later pit stop, and Wolff says it was a call made to maximize the team result but was unfair on Bottas.
“It’s not a great call that we made there. The undercut was more powerful than everybody expected. I don’t think Ferrari wanted to swap their drivers by letting Sebastian pit first. And we risked Lewis’s position by keeping him out in order to protect the win.
“This is why we held Valtteri back to keep (Alexander) Albon behind, because Lewis would have come out behind Albon. So overall the team result would have been worse than with Valtteri doing that. We owe him that place.”