Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has apologised for the ‘screw-up’ that denied Lewis Hamilton the chance to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton qualified only seventh after a DRS issue meant he could not complete his final flying lap in Q3.
But in the race, the seven-time F1 champion charged through to finish second by utilising longer stints and fresh soft tyres at the end of the race to pick off Carlos Sainz and team-mate George Russell, who finished third.
The second successive double podium result was a much-needed boost for the Silver Arrows ahead of the summer break.
Wolff, however, warned: “We need to be careful it is not specifically Budapest that we landed in the perfect window.
“The two Ferraris complained about the tyre not being where it should have been [in qualifying].
“We are still lacking to the frontrunners. We have seen that [Charles] Leclerc on the right tyre is still the dominant force but at least we are in the same race.
“George, fantastic weekend for him with the pole position.
“The strategy played out with Lewis and without us screwing up with the DRS [in qualifying] he would have fought Max for the victory.
“But would doesn’t count in this sport. It wasn’t a fact and I am just sorry we were not able to be in that position.”
Wolff unmoved by Ferrari challenge
Despite the gulf in performance between the two teams, Mercedes’ consistency and Ferrari’s failings mean the manufacturers are remarkably separated by just 30 points in the constructors’ standings.
Asked about Mercedes’ chances of finishing runner-up to likely champions Red Bull, Wolff joked: “Second is the first loser.”
He added: “For me, whether it is second or third in the constructors’ championship is not so relevant compared to really racing, being at the front and developing the car so we can win on merit, beat the Ferrari, beat the Red Bull and prepare for next year, rather than really care about the championship position.”