Red Bull double-stopped Max and Daniel; Ferrari brought in Kimi and Sebastian: Haas called in Romain Grosjean. Out of the 18 drivers still running, only six failed to pit, one of which was Lewis.
Once the VSC period ended, Lewis's advantage over Verstappen was 13.1s and Raikkonen and Ricciardo were also within the approximate 20s pit window that it would take Lewis to make a stop under normal racing conditions. Vettel, too, at 23s behind Lewis and on fresh rubber, was also a threat.
"I have no time in these tyres..." Lewis radioed in, as it became apparent that Mercedes had made a strategic error. On his used Supersoft Pirellis versus the fresh Softs of his pursuers, Lewis was actually losing ground rather than gaining it. And with Vettel perilously close to his pit window, the team called Lewis in on lap 25.
"Is it right I am now fourth?" asked a frustrated Lewis when he rejoined behind the Red Bull pair and Kimi.
It was. Admirably, Chief Strategist James Vowles came on the radio and admitted, in front of millions of TV viewers, "I have cost you the win today but give us what you can".
It was hard not to feel the utmost sympathy for James. Times without number races are won as a result of quick-thinking, often complex strategy decisions. When they are, those who have engineered them remain unsung heroes