Toto Wolff has explained the reasoning behind disallowing Lewis Hamilton from changing his strategy in the Brazilian Grand Prix, insisting a switch to two-stops would have simply dropped him into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel.
The new champion questioned Mercedes' policy of keeping both himself and Nico Rosberg on similar strategies, urging the team to allow him more alternative options since he couldn't break through the 'dirty air' to pass on track.
Indeed, Mercedes would swap from an original two-stop plan to three-stops during the race, prompting Hamilton to call on the team to allow him to have more input in the strategic process going forward.
However, Mercedes have played down Hamilton's request, insisting its projections prove a different strategy would have seen him drop back and come under pressure from Ferrari's Vettel.
For Lewis, running P2 was always going to be difficult at this track,” said Wolff. “As soon as you get close to the car in front, you lose downforce and the tyres start dropping off. When that happened in the second stint he asked about an alternative strategy.
“The only option was to convert to three stops which was ten seconds slower in terms of overall race time and would have put his second place at risk to Vettel. Then, the situation changed in our favour when Vettel converted to a three-stop strategy, which allowed us to do the same and control any threat from behind to the end of the race.”
Paddy Lowe went on to insist drivers do have input on strategies, but was firm on this occasion as it was certain Hamilton would be disadvantaged by it.
“We originally planned to do a two-stop strategy but eventually converted to a three-stop strategy to shadow Sebastian in third place, even though the three-stopper was about 10 seconds slower overall,” added technical director Paddy Lowe.
“But with the relatively slender margin we had to the Ferrari, it was much safer to mimic his stops. There was a point in the second stint when Lewis asked if anything could be done about a different strategy, but the only alternative at that point was the slower three-stopper, with others looking like they were two-stopping, and we didn't want to risk handing second place to Ferrari.
“Our policy is to let our drivers race and also to allow them to explore viable alternative strategies, as we have shown in the past - but we don't let them pursue a bad alternative strategy at any cost.”