Mercedes overcame a faster Red Bull on race day in Bahrain through a bold early stopping strategy which vaulted Lewis Hamilton ahead of early leader and pole-sitter Max Verstappen.
Making the first of two stops from 1.8sec behind Verstappen on the 13th lap of 56 gave Hamilton track position. The high degradation rate of the tyres around the notoriously tough track meant Hamilton could go much faster on his out-lap than Verstappen on his old tyres could have gone on his in-lap if Red Bull had even tried to respond by pitting a lap later. But it defined Hamilton’s remaining stints as long ones.
The best way for Red Bull to counter that was to leave Verstappen out for more ideally spaced stints, which would put him on much newer and faster tyres with which to attack Hamilton in the final stint.