Mercedes trackside engineer, Andrew Shovlin, feels that the team should have left George Russell out another lap at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old started the race eighth behind the Alpine of Fernando Alonso, who did his best to clear Sir Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, to no avail.
That battle could not be continued due to a red flag caused by Carlos Sainz’s heavy impact with the barrier, and the lengthy delay meant that the race was always going to be time limited.
Initially, all of the drivers had started the race on Intermediates, but as was proven by Sainz’s accident, the track was too wet for them, so when the race got back underway through a rolling start, they set off on the Wets.
The track was drying significantly though, leading Sebastian Vettel and Nicholas Latifi, who were towards the back, to take the early gamble of switching onto Inters.
They immediately started gaining time, leading to a flurry of pit lane action, and both Mercedes cars were involved in the busy phase.
Russell was brought in right behind Hamilton, costing him copious amounts of time and sending him outside the points paying positions.
With some slick moves, the 24-year-old made his way back up into seventh, but after Alonso’s late stop onto Inters, the two-time champion came back through to pass the Mercedes on the final lap.
Russell described his stop as the “worst decision” the team could have made due to the time and track position it cost him.
While staying out on Wets on a drying track is costly in and of itself, it is even more so to hold up a driver while servicing his team-mate.
“We’ve gone through all the timing of that, and we’ve concluded that, no, it wasn’t the right decision, we should have done what George was asking, which was to give him the lap in clean air,” said Shovlin in Mercedes’ YouTube debrief.
“We had seen that the intermediates were a lot quicker, so with the extreme wet you would have lost time on track.
“But the problem was George and Lewis were a bit too close for us to be able to do the pit stop without losing some time, and that time ultimately cost George the position to Tsunoda and possibly even the position to Lando [Norris].”
Hamilton came home in fifth after trying his best to clear Esteban Ocon for P4, but the Frenchman held on for 12 points in his Alpine.