Mercedes driver, George Russell, has conceded that his team were in a difficult spot during the Dutch Grand Prix as they tried to fend off Max Verstappen.
Having been denied a final qualifying run by Sergio Perez on Saturday, Sir Lewis Hamilton started the race fourth, with Russell behind in sixth.
They both cleared Perez, who started fifth, after their first stop when the Mexican was left out long after his early first stop to help his team-mate and polesitter, Max Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz was also dispatched in the pits when Ferrari made a huge mess of his stop, so Mercedes were up against Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton and Russell were on the one-stop having gone from the Mediums to the Hards, while the leaders were on the two-stop after they started on the Softs.
Leclerc ended up behind them after his second stop, but a Virtual Safety Car caused by Yuki Tsunoda gave the Red Bull driver a cheap stop.
The silver lining for the Silver Arrows was that they too were able to pit and re-join ahead of Leclerc, so both Britons were running in the podium places.
Towards the end, the full Safety Car made an appearance when Valtteri Bottas stopped on track and, while Verstappen pitted for Softs, Hamilton stayed out and took the lead.
The 37-year-old thought that the plan was to leave both Mercedes cars on the track so that Russell could defend from Verstappen in the closing laps.
The former Williams driver would also have a tow from Hamilton, making life, theoretically, tougher for the Red Bull.
But Russell was brought in for fresh Softs, leaving Hamilton on his own against the reigning champion, who passed him on the restart.
Hamilton was then passed by his team-mate, but not without a slightly late move across by the seven-time champion, before Leclerc snatched the final podium place from the Mercedes.
Speaking about the slightly scary moment down the pit straight, Russell confirmed it was simply a case of the two drivers moving to the right at the same time.
“Obviously with that I would say, with Lewis, we just had a bit of confusion and I came out just as he defended,” he said, as per Motorsport.com.
“It could have been a bit nasty but you know, we’ve got respect between the two of us so it’s all good.”
Hamilton told the team they had “screwed” him with their decision to pit Russell while leaving him out, but the 24-year-old feels that Verstappen would have passed both Mercedes anyway.
Further, it was a risk Mercedes felt was worth taking to try and win the race.
“I think as a team it was incredibly difficult decision, because had we both pitted we would have conceded the position to Max,” explained Russell.
“Had we both stayed out we probably both would have lost out to Max as well.
“The best chance we as a team had of victory was splitting the cars, one to stay ahead of Max, one to stay behind and see what happened.
“If [Hamilton] could have just got those tyres restarted it could have been different, but you know, it was always going to be very, very challenging for him.
“I’m sure Lewis wanted to go for it; as a racing driver and where we are at the moment as a team, we want to win.
“We’re obviously really happy with the points, just being consistent, getting them on the board.
“But ultimately no one remembers who finishes second in the championship, so we want to win a race.”
Sainz ended up down in eighth after an unsafe release, and a subsequent penalty, compounded his already tough afternoon.
The points swing now puts Mercedes back to within 30 points of Ferrari in the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship.