Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff believes that but for the safety car’s appearance, Lewis Hamilton could have won Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Despite dropping back at the initial restart, the Briton worked his way up to third, then second when race-leader Carlos Sainz pitted on lap 20. Five laps later, Charles Leclerc pitted, leaving Hamilton in the lead of a race for the first time since that ill-fated night in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton pitted on lap 33, rejoining in third, when just six laps later the safety car was deployed when Esteban Ocon stopped on the old pit straight.
Hamilton, along with race-leader Sainz and six others pitted, the seven-time champion rejoining in third. However, despite switching to the softs, the Briton was struggling for grip at the restart and was passed by Sergio Perez, as, just ahead, Sainz used his softs to take advantage of his struggling Ferrari teammate.
At that point the mother of all dog fights, involving Perez, Hamilton and Leclerc, got underway.
While Wolff is delighted that Hamilton was able to mix it with the Red Bull and Ferrari, he regrets the costly lack of pace at the restart.
“The car had some performance today and we were in there to win the race and that’s very encouraging,” said the Austrian, according to the official F1 website.
“I think we probably lost a little bit of momentum after the restart, but we had almost no bouncing which was encouraging, and the pace was good on the hards and on the medium, just on the softs we were not able to really get the grip that we would have wished at the end.
“I think without the safety car he would have probably won the race,” he continued. “At the end it was just Perez was there and Sainz just went.
“It’s okay, the most encouraging thing, like I said before, is that we had a car that was able to race.”
Now in a position to take on Red Bull and Ferrari, Wolff was asked his goals for the remainder of the season.
“I think we just want to, on our own, win races,” he replied. “That would be great, and be there fighting with them. That would be a target, so we have a car that we can develop for next year also.”