The Mercedes team principal explained his squad’s call to leave Lewis Hamilton out on medium tyres in the lead while Red Bull pitted Max Verstappen for softs under a late safety car in the Zandvoort race.
Under the same safety car, Mercedes pitted George Russell for softs, putting him behind Verstappen on track in third place, to split its strategy for the sprint to the finish.
The call backfired for Hamilton, who dropped from first to fourth, as Verstappen charged to victory ahead of Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The outcome left Hamilton furious over team radio at the Mercedes strategy call, and immediately after the race, Wolff spoke to his driver to say he would explain the decision not to pit him for softs.
Wolff sympathised with Hamilton but confirmed rather than a strategy error, Mercedes wanted to go for a risky strategy to give it a chance to fight for the victory rather than settle for a conservative result.
“It is highly emotional for the driver, you are that close to be racing for the win and then you’ve been eaten up, so it is clear that every emotion comes out,” Wolff said on Sky Sports F1.
“You, as the driver in the cockpit, you are alone and you don’t see what is happening. We discussed at the moment, are we taking risks for the race win? Yes, we are taking risks.
“He had a tyre that was five laps old, the medium, holding position was the right thing to do. At the end it didn’t work out for him but I’d rather take the risk to win the race with Lewis rather than finish second and third.
“Lewis was ahead, so you always have a little bit longer with the call [for those behind]. You can do two things; you can either pit Lewis and lose track position against Verstappen and leave George out screwed, or you can pit both, screwed. So it was worth taking the risk.
“If you do that [leave both out] you have both on an old tyre, but this would have guaranteed second and third and we wouldn’t have raced for the win with Lewis.”
Wolff also didn’t think pitting both drivers for fresh softs would’ve worked as it meant both Hamilton and Russell would have been behind Verstappen at the restart and on the same tyres unable to attack the Red Bull driver.
“I think the Red Bull has so much straightline speed that all on the same tyre out there is no way we are winning,” he added.
“I think we can look at the positives and this is what I just discussed with Lewis, there is so much more positive to take.
“Of course second and fourth is annoying but we felt we had a good race car here. That’s what is most important and you’ve got to take risks where we are.”
Dutch GP: Verstappen takes 10th win of 2022 ahead of Russell, Leclerc
2022 F1 World Championship standings after the Dutch GP
Hamilton apologises to Mercedes for F1 radio outburst in Dutch GP
Alonso: First-lap Belgian F1 GP clash is Hamilton’s mistake
Gregoire Saucy: How an outsider demolished a rank of F1 juniors
AlphaTauri rubbishes Dutch GP conspiracy theories and defends Schmitz
The AlphaTauri Formula 1 team has responded to conspiracy theories concerning Yuki Tsunoda’s retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix.
Ten things we learned from the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix
Max Verstappen’s points lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ standings now looks more commanding than at any stage in last year’s title battle after winning the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. The Red Bull driver’s determination to make 2022 a one-horse race aside, there was plenty to keep observers interested last weekend, including the outcome of Oscar Piastri’s contract saga and an intriguing development in the mooted Red Bull-Porsche deal. Here’s what we learned
Could Mercedes have beaten Verstappen to Dutch GP victory?
Max Verstappen’s march to the Formula 1 title continued with his 10th victory of the season in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix – but it was not a race he won easily.
Verstappen: “Very surprising” Mercedes could make one-stop work at Zandvoort
Max Verstappen was surprised by Mercedes’ pace and that it could make a one-stop strategy work to challenge for victory in the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.
Dutch Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022
The rollercoaster Zandvoort track is a stern test of Formula 1 cars in high-downforce configuration, and for drivers is one of the year’s most challenging venues. A thrilling Dutch Grand Prix produced a popular home winner, but there were several excellent performances up and down the field
How Mercedes overcame Ferrari to become Verstappen’s 2022 Dutch GP win challengers
Just 0.021 seconds had split Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix on Saturday. But come the race, the Monegasque’s Ferrari was always playing catchup, while a strategic gamble from Mercedes meant Lewis Hamilton came closest to denying Verstappen’s marauding Red Bull a fourth win on the trot
Why Hollywood’s latest motorsport foray faces familiar stumbling blocks
The proposed F1 movie may have Lewis Hamilton as a co-producer but, as MATT KEW points out, the problems it faces have been around for years
The data loss that clouds Zandvoort’s true leading picture
After a flawless Belgian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen and Red Bull were given a tougher time on the opening day at Zandvoort due to a gearbox problem and set-up worries. But as a data dropout partially hides the full story, the world championship leaders remain an ever-present threat able to strike at the Dutch GP…
Why Verstappen’s absolute F1 domination is no turn-off
OPINION: With Verstappen dominating the Formula 1 world championship battle, few are in doubt about where this year’s trophy is going. But that “absolute purple patch” is something fans should relish watching, not be dissuaded by
The scale of the challenge facing Audi’s F1 assault
OPINION: Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 for 2026 was confirmed on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix. It marks the series’ first new manufacturer of the hybrid era since Honda’s difficult return with McLaren in 2015. The might of Audi will surely make it a force in F1 in time, but the scale of the task ahead of it is massive
The myth and merit in Alonso’s Hamilton F1 racing claim at Spa
OPINION: Fernando Alonso was typically forthright in his immediate view of Lewis Hamilton’s driving in their crash at the start of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix. But away from the spotlight pressure and team radio adrenaline, it’s worth assessing the accuracy of his claims in the context of Formula 1’s changing eras
Belgian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022
Formula 1 roared back into action after the summer break at the Belgian Grand Prix, where the grid was shaken up by engine penalties which created different opportunities for drivers to shine. While the sole top score can probably be predicted, there were plenty of other high marks at Spa