The Singapore Grand Prix 2019 was a forgetful event for the Mercedes duo. Dubbed as the favourites for the race and pole, Mercedes managed to neither get the pole nor even a podium. Ferrari’s aero package ensured they were at the top of the game, beating both Mercedes and Red Bull to take pole and a beautifully crafted, but a bit controversial 1-2.
Mercedes were slow to react to Ferrari’s undercut. They went for the over cut which did not work the way they had anticipated for. Vettel’s undercut worked beautifully for him and Mercedes panicked like crazy. When they pitted Hamilton, he was last among the top six to have come to pits and was supposed to come out behind Valtteri Bottas who was himself behind Max Verstappen. Instead, Mercedes let the team orders come in between and asked Bottas to slow down so that Lewis can come between him and Verstappen. Considering Bottas is himself in the championship, it was an odd request from Mercedes and an even odd thing for Bottas to agree upon. The reason they cited was that they were playing this “as a team”
So, in hindsight we can count Bottas out of the championship now since Mercedes will never let their main driver, Lewis Hamilton, finish behind the Finn. What went behind in destroying Bottas’ morale to let Hamilton finish 4th instead of 5th, is something none of us can probably understand.
So, even though it was Ferrari and their strategy which caught everyone’s attention, it was rather Mercedes who took the crown for the controversy of the race. Technically and mathematically, Valtteri Bottas is still in the championship. But perhaps, Mercedes have already counted him out?
“It’s not a great call that we made there, but the undercut was, as I said before, more powerful than what everybody expected,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said. “I don’t think that Ferrari wanted to swap their drivers with letting Sebastian pit first.
“We risked Lewis’ position by keeping him out in order to protect the win and this is why we held Valtteri back, to keep Albon behind.
“Lewis was going to come out behind Albon. So the team result would have been worse with Valtteri doing that. But we owe him that place.”
All this comes after Bottas expressed sheer displeasure towards Hamilton’s behaviour in Qualifying of the Singapore Grand Prix. More on this here.