Cape Town - Mercedes' attempt to undercut Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco was more of a "protective strategy" that an aggressive one for Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes struggled with the hypersoft tyres in last Sunday's Monte Carlo street race resulting in Hamilton pitting on lap 12 of the 78-lap grand prix.
From the outside the move looked as if Mercedes were trying for the undercut, however, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says they were actually hoping to force Red Bull into an early stop.
“We were already seeing the signs of degradation on the hypersoft with Valtteri and you could see that when it came in, it was pretty extreme and you lost a lot of lap time very quickly,” Shovlin said.
“That’s because when you lose the front grip, the front slides more and it becomes a bit of a vicious circle.
“With Lewis, there were a few factors. We knew we were going to lose a bit of time quite quickly and if we came in, went to a faster tyre and we could push, we could actually pull the leaders in.
“When we can’t do a long stint on the hyper, we’re trying to prevent them from doing a long stint on the hyper too.
“If we had stayed out with Lewis, we would just have been losing race time.
“At that point, it was just a protective strategy rather than an aggressive one as you might do with an undercut.”
Ricciardo responded to Hamilton's pit stop by laying down a fastest lap of the grand prix and only pitting seven laps later.
The Aussie won the grand prix while Hamilton finished in third place.
“Third and fifth for Mercedes wasn’t the best result but this was a circuit where we were never going to be the best car," Shovlin added.
“We were in damage limitation mode and actually it was quite a solid finish for the weekend overall.”