As half distance in the 57-lap Grand Prix approached, the race was delicately poised. Vettel, on his Softs, which the team had thought unlikely to be able to go the 39 laps to the end, led Valtteri by 5s, the Finn having actually reduced his deficit by almost 3s despite being on the harder compound Medium. Räikkönen, on Softs, was just over 2s behind Valtteri. Lewis, on his fresher Mediums, was 24s behind the race lead.
After just 16 laps on his Softs, Ferrari called Räikkönen in for a second stop onto the red-walled SuperSofts, likely to see how quickly they could go to help them to decide the best strategy to adopt for race-leader Vettel. Unfortunately, the stop went awry as the team was unable to remove the left rear. But, because the sensor was still attached, as soon as Räikkönen's other three SuperSofts were located, he received the green light to leave, knocking over and injuring a Ferrari mechanic working on the obstructive left rear.
With the injured man prone in the pit lane and receiving medical attention, Ferrari were effectively unable to bring in Vettel for a further few laps even if they had wanted to, potentially further pushing them towards attempting the one-stop that Valtteri's pace on the Medium was telling them may be necessary.
The team strategists now faced a dilemma. They could have brought Bottas in at that time for a second stop onto a set of SuperSofts, effectively taking advantage of a 'free' stop that Ferrari were unable to make due to being a crew man down. But, they didn't follow that path for a number of reasons.