Mercedes chief Wolff rues delay to Hamilton pit stop

Toto Wolff acknowledged Mercedes should have brought Lewis Hamilton into the pits earlier at the Belgian Grand Prix, after the Briton was forced to settle for second place behind Charles Leclerc.

The reigning world champion closed to within a second of Leclerc at Spa but was left with just too much to do, having been briefly held up by the slower Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel earlier in the race.

That left Mercedes rueing their decision to leave Hamilton out for a longer first stint when it looked as though he could have overtaken Vettel had he pitted one lap after the German.

Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, told Sky Sports: "Maybe we stayed out one or two laps too late. With Lewis, the optimum would have been a lap or two earlier, but then you're always very clever at the end of the race."

Given Ferrari's superior speed on the straights, Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas could not be too disappointed with finishing second and third.

"I think for us it was really not a great track," Wolff added. "We are lacking the speed on the straight lines, so if that is damage limitation we have to be very happy with it."

Wolff also noted the poignancy of Leclerc claiming his maiden F1® win on a weekend marred by the death of the 21-year-old's childhood friend, F2 driver Anthoine Hubert.

"A young man has lost his life and that is overshadowing anything," said Wolff. "We should remember him and in a way it is good Charles won the race. They were close."

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is hopeful his team's straight-line speed will again prove decisive in their home grand prix at Monza next weekend.

Asked if they could hope for a similar result after Leclerc and Vettel claimed first and fourth respectively, Binotto told Sky Sports: "Or even better, possibly!"

He continued. "We know that Monza is long straights, speed is required and that's certainly our competitive advantage.

"It will still be a difficult one ... but our pace here shows we can be competitive in Monza."

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