There's no **** up. He would lose the same amount through one more pitstop + making his way while battling.
It's not that clear cut. You have fresher rubber so are charging more rather than nursing and running below the limit of the car. That said, the Mercs were absolutely horrible in sector 1 so overtaking and defending was always going to be difficult. It's not first time since the summer break that their wing levels, gear ratios, mechanical set up/ combination of all, have been a problem.