Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said that at one stage during the Austrian Grand Prix the team did not think they would finish the race at Red Bull Ring with both cars.
Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton suffered vibration issues during Sunday’s race, with the team having to ask the drivers repeatedly to stay off the curbs in order to limit the damage.
With Hamilton pressurising Bottas after the first safety car, both drivers appeared to back off to help preserve their cars and the team boss explained after the race that they were not sure their drivers would even finish the race.
“The situation was pretty serious, right away from the start,” revealed Wolff. “We saw it started with issues on Valtteri’s car, but it was something that can be an instant kill. Then it started on Lewis’s car. We didn’t really know what it was.
“We know that it was somehow linked to vibration and agitation of the car. That is why we advised them very early on to keep off the kerbs. At a certain stage, it looked like we would not finish the race with both cars.
“So we were trying to really cruise home, and then to your question on the pit stop. It’s always easier when you’re behind, when you have two leading cars and you’re first on the track, these decisions become much more complex.
“In hindsight now, after the race, it would have been probably better to stop both cars and switch them to soft tyres. But after the race, you’re always more intelligent than whilst these things happen,” added Wolff.
Bottas hung on until the end of the race to earn his first win of the season around 0.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton, although the six-time world champion was demoted to fourth after receiving a five-second penalty for an incident with Alex Albon.