Christian Horner says the unique layout of the garage and a miscommunication were the predominant reasons it crucially wasn't as prepared as it should have been in the pit box for Daniel Ricciardo as it let a probable Monaco Grand Prix victory slip through its fingers.
Starting from his first-ever F1 pole position in wet conditions, Ricciardo was in fine form during the early stages of the race, lapping quickly on wet tyres and again when he made the switch to intermediate rubber for his second stint.
However, with Mercedes choosing to keep Hamilton out on track longer with wet rubber in the hope of swapping him directly onto slicks as the circuit dried, Ricciardo was running closely behind him with a similar predicament in mind.
In the end, Hamilton pitted on lap 30 for slicks, with Ricciardo coming in a lap later in an effort to cover him off. However, when he entered the pits, the mechanics were not prepared for him, causing a scramble as they busily attempted to find the tyres. Losing him upwards of ten seconds, the measure of the time lost was shown when Ricciardo re-joined the circuit just behind the Mercedes, where he would stay to the chequered flag.
Marking the second race in succession that Ricciardo has lost out on a possible win due to an erroneous strategy call, though Red Bull says the decision to put its driver on super-soft tyres was compromised because they were at the back of the garage. Indeed, though Christian Horner says the call was made in good time, bad communications, the unfavourable location of the tyres and the short lap combined to leave the team floundering.
“We knew that that was our window of opportunity to get back past Hamilton [at the second stop], so Daniel was extremely quick on his in-lap. I think he was about seven or eight seconds quicker than Lewis was on his equivalent out-lap, and having seen the Mercedes put on the ultra-soft, the call was made with plenty of time – at least I felt it was plenty of time – for us to go one step harder on the compound and go on to the super-soft.
“If we were to come out behind Lewis – it wasn't clear at that point of the lap how much up or down he would be – we felt that tyre had better range. So the call was made to go to the super-soft tyre and based on how we are set up here in Monaco – the pit wall is upstairs and obviously the garage is downstairs – the tyres are on heat both in the garage and behind the garage, and unfortunately the set of tyres that were called for weren't readily to hand and were at the back of the garage.
“There was a scramble, with the mechanics originally having a soft tyre ready, and when that change was requested to go to the super-soft those tyres were actually right at the back of the garage and couldn't be got to the car in time. It cost probably about 10 seconds in the stop, and even despite the delay the two drivers were side-by-side when Daniel came out, showing how quick Daniel's in-lap had been and how slow Lewis' out-lap had been.
Despite the explanation, Horner concedes it let Ricciardo down again and didn't do him justice on a weekend where the Australian has been in superb form.
“I'm not making excuses because there are none, obviously the tightness of the garages here it's very tight to have extreme wets, intermediates and three different types of slicks for both cars in the garage at one time. But as I say, it's a communication error that has happened at short notice, with 30 seconds notice, that on a normal working day would have been no issue at all.”