Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff suspects its “cruel” late tyre failures at the British Grand Prix were caused by on-track debris.

The reigning world champion squad had been looking on course to land yet another comfortable 1-2 finish at Silverstone until the team was hit by a double puncture.

With just three laps remaining, Valtteri Bottas suffered a front-left blow-out and was forced to make an unscheduled stop that dropped him out of the points, before Hamilton sustained a similar failure on the final lap.

Remarkably, Hamilton was able to limp home on just three fully-inflated tyres to claim his seventh British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone and subsequently pull a 30-point lead over Bottas in the championship.

“It was cruel,” said Wolff. “Valtteri was in second, not losing too many points to Lewis for the championship, and really good for us in the constructors’ championship.

"In the moment we got settled in the ‘boring’ end of the race, cruise home with this one-two, there was drama and then when I realised that Valtteri was at completely the wrong end of the track with the failure, that was quite difficult to swallow.

“I think the left front [tyre] is the one that is the most hammered, and therefore more vulnerable also to debris. There were lots of pieces of carbon on the track after [Kimi] Raikkonen’s off.

“We saw some part of the car, part of the front wing on track, so we will never know but I guess Pirelli’s going to analyse that.”

And Wolff argued the late drama backs up his repeated warnings against allowing for complacency to creep at Mercedes, despite its seemingly dominant position.

"I know that I get lots of criticism when I point out that black swan events happen, that once you think everything is smooth, and you're just cruising into the sunset, these things can unfold," he explained.

"We could have easily lost two cars today, out of the points, and then the points advantage would have vanished in a second. We would have still had the fastest car at Silverstone, but come home with zero points.

"This is what I'm always pointing out, the championship is not over until it's mathematically impossible for anybody else to catch us, and the race isn't over until the flag drops.

"I'm not happy that my predictions come true sometimes for us. But that's also what I love about motor racing, that it's just very unpredictable until the end."

 

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