Today’s Monaco Grand Prix was seeming to be an unusually straightforward and incident free race. Current world champion Lewis Hamilton lead comfortably from pole ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the majority in an incident free race. For the first time in many years no safety car was needed for the street race, with the barriers so close to the track. Although so it seemed, as on Lap 64 Max Verstappen tried a daring move on Roman Grosjean which didn’t pay off as he ended up in the barriers at turn one.
This was the moment the race took a decisive turn. The safety car arrived on track whilst the stewards cleared up the incident at turn 1 whilst Mercedes AMG decided to pit race leader Hamilton as he had a lead of 21 seconds over his teammate (so they believed). Once the safety car is brought onto the track, cars have to slow down to a minimal limit once they have gone past the safety car line before catching up the safety car. The safety car drives slowly around the track waiting for the lead car to catch him up, and because of this Hamilton’s lead was reduced far more due to him catching the safety car on lap 67.
The Mercedes strategic team did not realise this, they pulled Hamilton into the pits on lap 67 to change for soft tyres with 13 laps remaining. This then allowed both Germans through to take the lead of the Grand Prix with Hamilton rejoining in third. This decision was met with much frustration from the Briton as he knew the race win was gone as he claimed over the radio “I’ve lost this now haven’t I”. The decision was also met with a great deal of confusion as Hamilton didn’t seem to understand why Rosberg hadn’t been brought in.
The restart with 9 laps to go was Hamilton’s opportunity to reclaim what he had lost, but as Rosberg escaped Vettel held up Lewis until the end of the Grand Prix.
The race ended with Rosberg claiming his third straight win at the Monaco Grand Prix in the last 3 years. Whilst Lewis has had a controversial weekend in each of the past two races at the Monaco circuit after Rosberg seemingly blocked Hamilton in qualifying last year to deny him taking pole as track position is so crucial at this street circuit and it proved the case once again today as not much overtaking occurred.
Hamilton was left devastated as his team’s mistake cost him the race and his arch rival Rosberg took the win in his place. Leading to a very dejected looking Hamilton on the podium at the end of the race. The latest twist in the Rosberg/Hamilton saga will surely be talked about for some time, the Mercedes took to the office to have a debrief meeting the minute the interviews had been conducted to end the confusion and to clarify who the fault was down to. Over the coming days the truth will appear, but the main question that needs to be answered is why Mercedes brought Lewis in with such little time left and how could they get it so wrong.
The timing screens are constantly viewed by the strategic team on the pit wall, as well as the car map so they knew where the cars were and what the gaps were. They also know the time it takes to conduct a pit stop through practice over the course of the weekend.So how could they get it so wrong? Maybe a huge mistake or maybe there is more conspiracy within the Mercedes team than we as viewers are lead to believe.
It remains to be seen how Hamilton will respond in the next race, but one thing for certain is that Lewis needs to stop the charge of Rosberg and get his title defense back on track with a victory in the next Grand Prix.
Pictures courtesy of BBC Sport and Daily Mail.