Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen took each other out of the Italian GP
Mercedes have explained the decision to put Lewis Hamilton on a hard tyre for the start of the Italian Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion, who started from fourth on the grid after a dismal sprint race performance on Saturday, utilised a different strategy from all of his rivals by not starting on a medium tyre.
And Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles has revealed they made the call as they felt it gave Hamilton the best chance of overtaking the two McLaren drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, who started in second and third.
Speaking in the debrief meeting, he said: “We had highlighted that the medium tyre would probably be what everyone took, maybe you might see one car on soft.
“If we did the same as everyone else, it would have been incredibly hard to have an opportunity to win the race or effectively put ourselves in front of two very quick cars, two McLarens.
“We decided therefore to fit the hard tyre and create what we call an offset strategy. Our intention was to run longer than all of them and also have a tyre that was more robust in traffic, a tyre that wouldn’t overheat as much and give Lewis opportunities even towards the end of the stint – as that medium tyre was suffering – to overtake.”
In the end, Verstappen suffered a lengthy delay during his pit stop while Hamilton was passing Norris, finally opening up the space to drive into clean air.
The Red Bull’s mishap led Mercedes to make the decision to pit Hamilton earlier than initially planned, a move that ultimately proved costly as he exited the pits alongside Verstappen and the pair collided with one another to end both their races.
Ricciardo went on to win at Monza as Norris finished second to cap a brilliant McLaren one-two. Valtteri Bottas rounded off the podium places with a superb drive after starting from the back of the grid.
Verstappen has subsequently been handed a three-place grid penalty for the collision with Hamilton and will serve the punishment at the Russian Grand Prix, which takes place next weekend.
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