Mercedes admitted that Lewis Hamilton's tire problems in the Korean Grand Prix left it in a strategic dilemma.
Hamilton complained vehemently over team radio during his second stint as his medium-compound Pirellis rapidly lost performance. Mercedes boss Ross Brawn said the team preferred to keep him on track until he was nearer the predicted window for a two-stop strategy.
"At that point, we had a difficult decision to make: an extra stop at lap 22 would have committed us to a much slower three-stop strategy, or we could leave Lewis in clean air to tough it out and try and reach the target lap to make our two-stop strategy work," said Brawn. "We chose the latter option but it was a pretty painful few laps as Lewis battled to minimize the time loss."
Hamilton said that the loss of tire performance happened without warning.
"A disastrous race for us," he said. "We'd obviously have liked to finish higher and I think we deserved higher. Things just didn't go our way today.
"The car was feeling OK but the right front was just destroyed all of a sudden at one point. They just said it might go through the graining phase, but it wasn't graining, it was just dead.
"The tire was losing temperature and I was locking up. I couldn't get round the corners. It was a very difficult 10-15 laps we had to do on that tire and that's really what lost us so much ground."
Hamilton ultimately finished fifth after a huge late battle with Nico Hulkenberg's Sauber and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.