Lewis Hamilton has defended Mercedes' strategy decision to keep him out at the end of his second stint at the Korean Grand Prix, even though his pace had fallen away.
The Briton was heard over the radio several times expressing dismay at the state of his tires, but he was told to keep going rather than make an early stop. The amount of time he lost prompted some to question whether or not Mercedes would have been better off pitting him sooner, but Hamilton says that was not a strategic option.
"We had to reach a certain target, and we could not have done 35 laps on the tire [in the final stint] – well, we don't believe we could have done," he explained. "In hindsight, we could have stopped early and the safety car would have helped, because it came out shortly after and we would have made it to the end. But you never knew that was going to happen, and if we had stopped we would never have made it."
Hamilton thinks his chances of a strong result were effectively finished by getting trapped behind Romain Grosjean early on.
"Once I lost ground to Grosjean, first place pretty much went out of the window," he said. "It is so difficult to overtake and after that I was really fighting for second. Then the tire went [off] and that was it."