After Red Bull lost a point for the fastest lap due to Max Verstappen’s mistake, Mercedes had a moment of relief during the end of the race in Portugal.
With the margin between Mercedes and Red Bull tight at the top, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were fighting for an additional point for the fastest lap.
It was Bottas who managed to score the point after Verstappen’s attempt was deleted when he crossed track limits at Turn 14 with all four wheels beyond the red and white kerb.
While Red Bull was complaining about the inconsistent nature of the FIA policing track limits, Mercedes was berating itself for giving Red Bull a chance to counter Bottas.
The Silver Arrows had decided to pit Bottas for a new set of soft tyres. But with Verstappen’s P2 already confirmed, Red Bull too called him in for a change in tyres.
“Yeah, we had a little bit of a stupid moment,” Wolff told reporters. “It should have been the next lap but learn and move on.”
Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin spoke about the sloppy nature of the pit-stop call.
“Valtteri did a good job at the start and the restart but seemed to be lacking a bit of pace on the medium which allowed Verstappen to get within undercut range,” Shovlin said.
“That, together with a moment at turn 4, allowed Max to pass. Valtteri had strong pace on the hard tyre and we thought he was going to be able to take the position back from Max until an exhaust temperature sensor put an end to our hopes.
“As a consolation, he was able to pull enough time on Perez to earn a free stop to go for fastest lap.
“We’ll review the timing of our call as we opened the window for Red Bull to also have a go and had it not been for Max’s mistake at T14, we’d have lost a valuable point to them.”
After Bottas faced a sensor issue in his car that cost him precious time, Wolff feels that Mercedes let the Finn down in his pursuit of P2.
“We lost the undercut, that was unfortunate, and then we let him down with the engine that went into a safety mode,” Wolff said.
“All in all, like many times, it could have worked for Valtteri and we were pushing hard and will continue to support him and next time will see what he is capable of doing in Barcelona.
“That was unfortunate because he really caught up well to Max and then it kind of stabilised at 1.5 to 1.6 seconds but he had more to come at the end of the race.
“Then we made a switch change in order to override a sensor that was saying we are running too hot on the exhaust temperatures. We couldn’t override it so the engine went into protection mode and it cost him five seconds.”
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