Mercedes explains inflexible position on tyre strategy in Brazil

Mercedes has explained why it was not willing to let Lewis Hamilton explore an alternative tyre strategy at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

After trying and failing to pass on track, Hamilton said after the race he would have liked to try a different strategy to Rosberg in front in order to unlock some of the pace he believed he had bottled up in second. Mercedes put both drivers from a two-stop strategy to a three-stop strategy once Sebastian Vettel in third pitted earlier than expected and -- in line with team policy when one car is leading the other -- allowed Rosberg to pit first each time.

With both drivers' and constructors' titles sewn up for Mercedes, Hamilton hoped he would be allowed to explore a riskier strategy with the potential of greater reward, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the pit wall was not willing to risk losing second place to Vettel.

"For Lewis, running P2 was always going to be difficult at this track," he said. "As soon as you get close to the car in front, you lose downforce and the tyres start dropping off. When that happened in the second stint he asked about an alternative strategy, but the only option was to convert to three stops which was ten seconds slower in terms of overall race time and would have put his second place at risk to Vettel. Then, the situation changed in our favour when Vettel converted to a three-stop strategy, which allowed us to do the same and control any threat from behind to the end of the race."

Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe added: "We originally planned to do a two-stop strategy but eventually converted to a three-stop strategy to shadow Sebastian in third place, even though the three-stopper was about 10 seconds slower overall," Lowe explained. "But with the relatively slender margin we had to the Ferrari, it was much safer to mimic his stops.

"There was a point in the second stint when Lewis asked if anything could be done about a different strategy, but the only alternative at that point was the slower three-stopper, with others looking like they were two-stopping, and we didn't want to risk handing second place to Ferrari. Our policy is to let our drivers race and also to allow them to explore viable alternative strategies, as we have shown in the past - but we don't let them pursue a bad alternative strategy at any cost."