Valtteri Bottas regrets discounting the chance of finishing the British Grand Prix with one pit stop as his race-winning Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton managed to do.
Bottas qualified on pole and, but for an early battle with Hamilton, led for 16 laps before taking his first pit stop, at which time he took another set of medium compound tyres.
Hamilton pitted under Safety Car on Lap 20, a lucky break which allowed him to stay in front of Bottas, and made his new set of hard compound tyres last until the end of the 52-lap race.
Bottas, on the other hand, had to pit again if only to meet the requirement of racing on multiple tyre compounds, and spent the final seven laps on soft tyres.
The Finn was disappointed by not only the timing of the Safety Car, necessitated when Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo at Vale, but also the fact that he did not believe a one-stop strategy could work.
“It was maybe not my luckiest day, but that’s life,” said Bottas.
“Obviously Lewis drove well, he’s got massive support here, so congrats for the win. But obviously we had good racing at the beginning and I really enjoyed it – that’s why we are here, to race hard and fair. I’m sure Toto (Wolff, team boss) didn’t maybe enjoy it as much as we did, but it doesn’t matter.
“After my first stop I felt like it was under control. I was following the gap closely, the pit stop gap I had to Lewis, and I was just waiting for him to stop and obviously the Safety Car got him ahead of me at that point.
“I was stuck into a two-stop at that stage, because we stopped for the medium again from medium tyres, so it meant I had to stop in the end, which was a mistake from our side.
“Two stops, we thought, would be by far the fastest, but actually one stop was possible as well. Not quite ideal, but one of these days…”
As if to emphasise the miscalculation, Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, when his hard tyres were 32 laps old.
Wolff confirmed that the plan was to split the strategies of the two Mercedes, although the team had expected to also bring Hamilton back into the pits at some stage.
“In our strategy meeting in the morning, actually the drivers brought up whether there was an offset strategy possible for the guy running second, because if you put them on the same tyre, this is probably how the race is going to end,” he explained.
“So picking up on the suggestion, we decided that the second-placed driver would run an offset strategy with the hard tyre in the middle.
“We weren’t quite sure whether one stop would make it, probably rather thinking it would be a two, also because of a lack of data on the hard, and this is exactly how it panned out.
“Obviously both of them drove a brilliant race, both of them would have deserved to win the race, and in that instance, the Safety Car swung in the favour of one driver.”
With 25 points for the win and another for fastest lap, Hamilton now leads Bottas by 39 points at the top of the drivers’ championship with the German Grand Prix, the halfway mark of the season, next on July 26-28.