July 23, 2024

After the Japanese Grand Prix was red-flagged, Mercedes decided to take a chance and put Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on hard tires while Ferrari opted for medium tires. The Italian team made the right decision.

Mercedes has provided an explanation for the misguided strategy decision that prevented Lewis Hamilton from having a significant impact at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Teams faced a dilemma in terms of strategy due to an early red flag that resulted from a collision involving Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon on the opening lap. If they could extend the life of the hard tires, they would only have to stop once again, which would have given them the opportunity to change their tires.

Ferrari committed to the two-stop strategy and took a more cautious approach, whereas Mercedes decided to take a chance. And it did not take long to realize that the Italians had made the right choice.

Especially on the mediums, Charles Leclerc demonstrated remarkable speed, moving up from eighth to net third place. In the end, he had to settle for fourth place as Carlos Sainz, a teammate, stormed through with his newer rubber late on to take the podium.

On the more difficult compound, the Mercedes drivers were having difficulty. Not even halfway there, Hamilton was demanding over the radio that the team ditch their current strategy and go for new tires, and shortly after, George Russell followed suit.

Despite finishing seventh in the end, the latter was unable to catch Fernando Alonso in the lead. Hamilton, meanwhile, was only able to finish ninth and earn a mere two points.

Mercedes talked about the unsuccessful strategy gamble after the race. “We were able to give ourselves the possibility of looking at either a one or a two stop after the red flag – hence the hard tyre restart,” a spokesperson stated.

“In the end, tire degradation during the race indicated that the two-stop would be the fastest route to the finish line. In contrast to the McLarens and Ferraris around us, our second and third stints demonstrated a strong pace.

We were aware that Suzuka would not be our best course, but due to time lost on the offset strategy—one of its drawbacks—we were unable to return to P6, which was probably the highest point for today.

Max Verstappen emerged victorious, maintaining a lead throughout to resume his winning ways following his Melbourne DNF earlier in the match. After three races this year, Sainz has finished on the podium three times, with teammate Sergio Perez demonstrating impressive speed to finish second behind the Dutchman.

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