Wolff: Mercedes made the “right calls” in tricky dry-to-wet Monaco GP

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The Monaco Grand Prix was a mixed bag for Mercedes, but team boss Toto Wolff acknowledges that they can leave the principality with a few positives.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Asked why Mercedes opted to split strategies at the start of the race—Hamilton starting on mediums while teammate Russell was initially fitted with the hard tyre—Wolff explained that they felt they had the flexibility to gamble and learn in the process.

“I think it’s about learning, also, for us. With George [starting] in eighth, we could risk to take a gamble or do something different. We were quite surprised that many others went that way. So that’s why we split it.”

Wolff also praised his team for how they executed the pit stop strategy while working under tricky, changing conditions as rain descended on Monte Carlo.

“When you look in retrospect, there’s always something you could’ve done better. The strategists are always under fire.

But today I think the calls were right. There was a lot of debate that we had on the channels. George was adamant [the conditions were right for] the intermediates, so we could have done that a lap earlier. Lewis was pretty sure about it, too.

But the difficulty was that where we were sitting—exit of the swimming pool—it was dry. I think we made the right call, and we eventually outscored the Ferraris, they came in a lap later. So we did the right thing here,” Wolff told the media.

“I think the timing of the pit stops was almost spot on. Maybe a lap earlier would’ve been great, but I think contrary to some others I think we really got it right. And after the pit stop we were third on the road.”

Wolff was heard speaking to his driver, George Russell, over team radio mid-race. The message was broadcast shortly after the rain came down and conditions became increasingly treacherous, catching many of the drivers out—including Russell himself, who felt his error had cost him a shot at the podium. The British driver ultimately finished the race in P5, one spot below his teammate.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Wolff explained that communicating with his drivers directly is his way of offering emotional support from the pitwall: “It’s not new, I’ve done that before.”

“It’s just encouraging or calming a bit sometimes. Drivers don’t see whether they’re quick or not.

“I think when you’re sliding all over the place and you have no grip, and you have somebody telling you that you’re actually pretty fast…

“I’m doing this because the race engineers are flat-out, looking at tyres and strategy and, in that respect, I’m just trying to support from an emotional side.”