Mercedes’ decision to switch Lewis Hamilton onto Medium tyres during Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix was swayed by fears over warm-up with the Hard compound.

The front-runners all pitted earlier than scheduled under a Safety Car period and while Hamilton retained his lead, he emerged back on track on Mediums, while Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and teammate Valtteri Bottas took on Hards.

It meant Hamilton had to complete 67 laps on Pirelli’s mid-range tyre despite the Italian manufacturer only forecasting a lifespan of 50 laps. The Briton managed his pace to conserve his tyres and ultimately fended off a late attack from Verstappen to take his third win in Monaco.

“The Safety Car was earlier than we would have liked and with hindsight, we should have fitted the Hard tyre, but we were concerned about the warm-up on the restart, which was why we took the Medium,” Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin explained.

“That obviously made life difficult for Lewis and we'll review our decision-making and the information that we had at the time.

“We're grateful that Lewis was able to manage it so well to the end as he really had to work for the victory today.”

Bottas also initially pitted for Mediums but was forced into a second stop after picking up a puncture in a pitlane collision with Verstappen. He switched onto Hards and ended up third after a time penalty for Verstappen dropped him to fourth behind the Finn and Vettel.

“Valtteri's race was also compromised at the Safety Car,” Shovlin said. “We felt the release from Red Bull was ok, but Max had room on the left to give Valtteri more space rather than putting him into the wall.

“That broke the front right wheel rim and caused a puncture, so we had to pit for a new set. From there his opportunities were rather limited.

“The car had good pace, but you simply can't pass here and Valtteri had a frustrating race stuck behind Vettel. It was some consolation that Valtteri was able to get back on the podium after Max had the time penalty applied.

“Well done to Lewis, we made life more difficult than we needed to for him today, but our thoughts are now with Niki and his family. He has been such a big part of this team over the last few years, we have benefited so much from his wisdom and straight talking, and he is simply someone who cannot ever be replaced.

“All he would have asked of us is to give it 100% and race hard and that's what we will do.”

 

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