Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defended the team’s decision not to switch Lewis Hamilton to slick tyres before the restart of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
When Hamilton led the field around to restart the race following the early stoppage, every other driver headed to the pits to swap their intermediate tyres for slicks. Hamilton took the start on his own, then pitted for slicks at the end of the next lap.
Mercedes’ simulations suggested he would only fall as low as sixth by doing that. However, the track dried out so quickly that the other drivers were immediately quicker than him, and Hamilton dropped to the rear of the field.
Nonetheless Wolff said the team stood by its decision. “I think 100 percent [it was] the right decision and I stand by it,” he said.
“At the end you need to make the call out there and judge whether it’s dry enough or not and I thought that within one lap it couldn’t possibly dry up like it did. And at the end we have to take it on the chin that it was the wrong outcome but the decision was right.”
Hamilton recovered to finish third after passing several of his rivals but appeared unwell during the podium ceremony. He then missed part of the press conference while he was attended to by the team’s doctor.
“I think you can just relate to it with the heat out there and the race like he had, with tons of overtaking, that is exhausting,” said Wolff. “I think he should be all right but better to be safe than sorry.”