24 May 2015
F1 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton: You rely on the team...
Lewis Hamilton says he pitted at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix in the mistaken belief that his rivals had done the same...
Lewis Hamilton insisted that he wasn't going to try and put his emotions into context after seeing Monaco Grand Prix victory ripped from his grasp by a pit-wall decision that has yet to be adequately explained.
The Briton was 20secs ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg when Max Verstappen ploughed into the barriers at Ste Devote, bringing out the safety car. Hamilton was duly told to pit by his crew and, believing that the team had all the data it needed to ensure that he rejoined still in the lead with just ten laps remaining, he obeyed. As it turned out, however, both Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel were close enough to move ahead of the world champion as he exited the pit-lane, dropping the erstwhile leader to third on the road, with the safety car still eating into the remaining laps on a circuit where passing is notoriously difficult.
Even when the field was released for an eight-lap sprint to the flag, Hamilton's fresher supersoft Pirellis were not enough of a decisive factor to allow him to pass Vettel, and Rosberg duly pulled out a five-second cushion at the front. Indeed, such was the extent to which Hamilton was bottled up behind the Ferrari that Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo latched onto the rear of the battle in a late quest for a podium place.
After the race, Hamilton naturally cut a dejected figure, although he put on a magnanimous face as his team-mate celebrated.
“It was not the easiest of races, but the team has done amazing all year long and we win and lose together,” he insisted, “I'm just grateful for the job that they did and congratulations to Nico and Sebastian. I'm sure we'll sit down afterwards and think of ways we can improve – and I'll come back to win the next one.”
Quizzed later on why he had even pitted at that point of the race, Hamilton explained that he was confident that the team was in control of the situation and felt no reson to question the call.
“I cant really express the way I feel right now – and I'm not going to attempt to,” he sighed, “You rely on the team.
“I saw on the screens that the team was out and thought that Nico had pitted. Obviously, I couldn't see the guys behind and I thought that they were pitting so, when the team said to stay out, I said that the tyres were going to drop in temperature. I was assuming that these guys would be on options [for the remaining laps] and I was on the harder tyre, so they said to pit. With that thinking, I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same...”
Incidentally, Mercedes management has claimed that they misread the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg at the point the Briton was told to pit, perhaps confused by the rapid switch between virtual and actual safety cars following Verstappen's crash.
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