Wolff explains decision to change Mercedes’ strategy in Mexico

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Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has explained the decision to change the strategy of both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton midway through Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Rosberg and Hamilton ran first and second throughout the race, making their first pit stops on lap 26 and 28 respectively. Mercedes originally planned to run both to the end of the race on the medium compound tire.

However, on lap 46, Rosberg pitted for a second time, taking another set of mediums. Hamilton continued for another two laps before stopping, questioning the logic behind Mercedes’ decision.

After the race, both Rosberg and Hamilton – who duly finished first and second respectively – said that their tires felt fine, leaving neither certain why the decision to pit was taken.

However, Wolff explained after the race that in light of the 30 second gap to the field that had been built up and the tire wear during the first stint, Mercedes opted to play it safe and bring both drivers in.

“From our side, it was a simple precaution,” Wolff said. “After the first stint on the option tire, we had seen higher than expected wear levels and one of Lewis’ tires was even down to 0% rubber.

“The stint we were trying to do with the prime was already on the limit, and with that information in hand and a pit-stop gap to spare to the next car, it was the low-risk option to stop both cars again.

“Lewis obviously had a few questions about that and that’s totally normal – race drivers have emotions and if they didn’t focus on winning every time, they wouldn’t be the talents they are. But we have the overview on the pit wall and Lewis followed the instruction to pit.

“After that, the safety car came out and made the matter academic: we would have pitted both cars for fresh tires anyway. But it was Nico’s day today: he didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and fully deserved his win.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.