Mercedes reacted to 'remote control' F1 strategy criticism

Toto Wolff has revealed Lewis Hamilton was allowed to run his own race during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to avoid further criticism over Mercedes' handling of Formula 1 strategy

Mercedes reacted to 'remote control' F1 strategy criticism

Mercedes came under fire following the previous race in Brazil for not acceding to Hamilton's mid-race requests for a different strategy to team-mate Nico Rosberg, resulting in a predictable outcome.

At Yas Marina, Hamilton tried something different by going long on his second stint, rather than immediately following Rosberg after the German had made his second stop.

Hamilton discussed over the radio with engineer Pete Bonnington the possibility of staying out to the end of the race, but with his tyres going off and Rosberg closing in fast, that idea was swiftly rejected.

Asked whether it was too risky to allow Hamilton a free rein in the race, Mercedes' head of motorsport Wolff replied: "You were all criticising us [and saying] we were remote-controlling it too much last time around.

"This time there were two strategies that could have worked so we left it to him, his race engineer and his side of the garage to decide which strategy he would rather go for."

Another option open to Hamilton was to return to super-softs at his late final stop, with 14 laps remaining, but with no fresh sets remaining the decision was taken to use new softs instead.

Wolff added: "They were a bit worried the super-soft wouldn't last to the end.

"We saw on the first stint the tyre lasted eight or nine laps on full fuel.

"At the end [of the race], it would have been 15 laps to go. That could have fallen off a cliff so the result would have been worse."

After an initial surge to cut a 12.5-second deficit to 6.8s, Hamilton's tyres ultimately dropped off, leaving the three-time world champion to finish runner-up to Rosberg for the third consecutive race.

Wolff concedes Hamilton could have tried a switch to the super-softs and if he had been able to run for a few more laps on his second stint with softs.

"It was worth the consideration to go a little longer and see how it panned out," said Wolff.

"Then, if he could have made that tyre last, he could have gone for the option [super-soft] and that would have been a real call to win the race, but the tyre didn't last so it went into being the third-best option."

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