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Featured Monaco GP Debrief: Pit-stop blunder costs Hamilton certain victory

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, May 26, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    monacopodium.jpg From first to third, Lewis Hamilton managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the Circuit de Monaco.

    “Anything can happen in Formula One, and it usually does.”

    Has there ever been a better example of that Murray Walker quote than what transpired on Sunday?

    64 laps into the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix, it looked like there could only be one outcome for Lewis Hamilton, and that was his first victory at the circuit since 2008. And yet, in a matter of minutes, he found himself staring at the back of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari as his teammate Nico Rosberg led them both to the finish line. ‘Bizarre’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

    So, let’s dive on into what turned out to be a very memorable Monaco Grand Prix.

    monacosafetycar.jpg Royal cock-up costs Hamilton in the Principality

    For a man who calls Monaco home, it’s fair to say Lewis Hamilton is lacking for fond memories.

    A year after Nico Rosberg’s ‘possibly intentional’ off in qualifying cost him a vital pole position, the Brit fell victim once again to a bit of internal sabotage, this time from his pit wall.

    To say Hamilton was comfortably heading to his fourth race win of the season would be a colossal understatement. With a 25-second lead over Rosberg before Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen brought out the safety car, the only way he was losing was if some dedicated movie fans chose that moment to re-enact the events of Iron Man 2. From the first session of Thursday practice, all the way up until that moment he had simply been a class above, and yet it was all undone as he proceeded to pit for fresh super-softs while his immediate rivals elected to stay out. From first to third, the only question to ask is: why?

    Certainly the most common response to that question has been that there was no good reason. As was repeated on the Sky broadcast, “track position is everything in Monaco”, and Hamilton obviously had it to begin with. Had he simply stayed out, regardless of whether Vettel then pitted, he’d have all the clean air to work with, and only 2-3 laps to defend at the restart as he got heat back into his tyres. Considering the track and the driver Hamilton is, it would have taken a significant uptick in pace and an absolutely banzai move from the German to pass both Mercedes and take the lead.

    However Hamilton and his team clearly didn’t see things that way, and while Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene attributed this to Mercedes being “too convinced of their own power”, the truth is more likely to be the opposite. Arrivabene’s statement assumes Mercedes pitted Hamilton without regard for track position, but as Toto Wolff pointed out post-race, it was the erroneous belief they would retain it regardless that informed their decision to pit – they only did so because they believed the gap to second and third gave them enough time to get out still in front, and fresh tyres would be necessary to defend against a Ferrari that had done likewise.

    Unfortunately they were relying on muddled information – Hamilton erroneously believed Vettel and Rosberg had already pitted for super-softs, making the move somewhat of a necessity. More importantly though, the team didn’t have their usual GPS information to track exactly where everyone was in relation to the safety car, which turned out to be the deciding factor, as it caught Hamilton early while Rosberg and Vettel were still driving to catch up. Certainly it seemed strange at the time, but they say numbers never lie – as long as you’re looking at the right numbers.

    Essentially, in trying to play things extra-safe, Mercedes inadvertently risked everything. Will it matter in the long run? Who knows? Although if I had to make a prediction for the next two weeks, I wouldn’t bet on Lewis inviting his team ‘round for a barbeque.

    vettelmonaco.jpg Don’t Look Now – is Vettel climbing into the championship picture?

    Especially seeing as they’ve only won one race, is anyone more pleased with the way the first seven races of 2015 have turned out than Sebastian Vettel and the folks at Ferrari?

    Despite clearly lacking the outright pace of the Silver Arrows, the Scuderia’s lead driver finds himself only 28 points away from Hamilton at the top of the table with 13 races – and a whole lot of in-season development – still to go.

    And while 28 points may be too far away to immediately threaten, it’s certainly close enough to cause worry. We only have to look back to 2012 for an example of how this could play out, as then-Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso parlayed an out-of-nowhere Malaysian GP victory into championship contention once the team’s mid-season improvements were introduced.

    Assuming the deep pockets of Ferrari continue to develop the very strong race-pace of the SF15, being so close to the Mercs in the interim could work wonders, given a few mishaps and both Silver Arrows stealing wins from each other.

    There’s no denying Ferrari has a ways to go to catch up to Mercedes, but 2012 showed they don’t have to draw completely level with the championship leaders to be in with a shot. Alonso took two poles all season in 2012 (converting on only one) and was still in it to the very end. As long as the package improves, given the season we’ve had so far, being simply fast enough could prove very menacing indeed.

    ricciardomonaco.jpg Ricciardo on Raikkonen – Fair or Foul?

    As it turns out, when two fan-favourites come together in Monaco, it’s not all smiles.

    Battling for fifth in the post-safety car dash to the finish, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came together with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in a moment that probably won’t feature in either’s scrap book. Heading into Mirabeau, Ricciardo managed to get his nose alongside Raikkonen’s rear tyre just before the Finn turned into the corner. Not one to shy away easily, the Australian held his position and managed to bring his front wheels in-line, giving the Iceman a hearty shove as he made his way past.

    Looking at it again, it’s hard to describe it as anything but “clumsy”, and you can understand why Raikkonen was irked the stewards failed to award a penalty. However the truth is, by the letter of the law Ricciardo was within his rights to do as he did. Having said that, the Circuit de Monaco is quite unlike any other on the calendar, and it’s possible to argue the usual decorum doesn’t always apply. The tighter confines of the track make going through corners like Mirabeau two-abreast nigh impossible, and regardless, Raikkonen had sufficiently left a space before turning in, something Ricciardo wasn’t able to take advantage of until the Finn had already braked and therefore decided on his line for the corner. The Australian should have accepted defeat for the moment and frankly, given his fellow competitor a bit more respect.

    Of course, there’s also the matter of Fernando Alonso being awarded a penalty for a comparable move earlier in the race, and even Ricciardo seemed surprised in his post-race interviews that he hadn’t suffered a similar fate to the Spaniard. If nothing else, he definitely skirted the line. Known for his megawatt smile, it’s likely to have been replaced on Sunday afternoon by something of a sheepish grin.

    What are your thoughts on Hamilton's pit-stop woes? Is Vettel a legitimate dark horse? Did Ricciardo deserve a penalty? Sound off below.
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  2. Joel


    I believe the gap to Nico was some seconds very close to a pitstop's fine when he pitted. Just enough to stay ahead. But only just, and the point Hamilton exited the pits he was only a few meters behind Vettel.

    I guess tough luck for him because Lewis was looking unbeatable for the whole weekend. A bit if a drama queen act he took at the end, but it's pretty understandable.

    Overall, favourite race of the calendar, kinda boring but the final laps sure got me on the edge of my seat.
  3. The thing which I think made me laugh is he was only a couple of meters behind when he left the pits, but that's only because Nico and Seb had no clue he had pitted lol. And Seb must have thought Christmas had come early when he saw that Mercedes trying to get past him on the safety car line.


    I like being cynical on times like this, I think it was a decision made by Hamilton as well as his team! And I think he even admitted that on the driver debrief, it wasn't just his teams fault it was his as well. I think where the team failed him, was giving him the incorrect information over team radio to lead Hamilton into pitting thinking he had that sense of security.

    He's definitely showing maturity better now... At least until he drove into the number 3 sign and then refused to speak to anyone and tried walking off.. He'll get there.
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  4. I feel bad for Lewis, I would be gutted to have that happen to me. As for Team Mercedes, they can claim the math was wrong all they want, there was NO reason to bring Lewis in to begin with, that's where the real issue lies.
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  5. Frederic Schornstein

    Frederic Schornstein
    TXL Racing Premium

    I am personally not a Lewis fan, but that one was 100% on the team. They have a big record of messing up things in the past, but most people didn't notice, because the car was **** anyways or so dominant, that their strategy didn't matter. As a driver you have no real info about the gaps like we have in simracing, so you rely 100% on the team.
    I made one or two bad calls in simracing as well, but none were as bad as what Mercedes delivered in the past few years. I wouldn't say I would make a better jobs, but some of their mess ups were way to obvious:O_o:

    P.S. The best thing in the Top3 interview was Vettel at the end: "I am happy" :D Just think about if he would have jumped Nico, that would have made the Mercs even more stupid.
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  6. Just to add on the point of Ferrari playing catch up; a key factor will be that Mercedes have 7 "tokens" to use for engine development throughout the season - Ferrari have 10.
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  7. Poor Lewis. What a cock up! At least it provided some excitement in an otherwise dull gp.
  8. Last Saturday, in the last RD GSCx stock car championship I had a comfortable P3 with not many laps to go when I decided to pit.
    Not only I overshot my pit stall and had to backup and align the car, but I also managed to break the pit speed limit earning me a stop n' go.

    That was the end of my race and I was a bit upset at my blunder. Only as I was entering the pits I realized I forgot to ever practice a pit stop at that track.

    Then the day after I am watching Monaco and I see *Mercedes*, not Sauber or Marussia or Toro Rosso etc., but Mercedes make a call that I frankly would have been ashamed of in any setting and I felt a lot better about my own blunder.

    A few things I enjoyed about the GP:

    1) The way Rosberg absolutely took off at the restart. I think he cheated and parked the car in somebody's garage only to pop out later. He was absolutely gone!

    2) Hamilton parking his car in the #3 spot in front of the Royal stand. I think he wanted to advance the signpost just to make a point he deserved the win.

    3) Seb declaring "I am happy" after Martin Brundle commiserated with the Mercedes drivers for their embarrassing situation.

    I still have to wonder what got into Mercedes and changing the tyres with 10 laps to go. At Monaco, on a day when they put easily 30 laps + with the supersoft.

    I get it that the tyres were cold and everything, but passing a Monaco is ground for sainthood. All Hamilton had to do was to make his car a bit larger, brake in mid-corner a few times to keep his teammate from getting too frisky and he would have had the win.

    Heck, he probably could have won if he drove his car on its rims.
  9. Having the ability to say Mercedes won the Monaco GP three times in a row has big advertising benefits.
    That's the only reason I could see for pulling Lewis in at that time.
    Those barriers were always going to take considerable time to fix.
    Heck! even I knew that.
    With that much running behind the safety car, the tires would cool but the deg would slow considerably.
    That call was a serious cock-up on their part.
    Lewis had every right to be pi**ed.
    That wasn't just any race, it was the Monaco GP.... a race guys desperately try to win.
  10. can we take a moment to stare in awe of how close Ricciardo was to the wall and in this shot it looks like he is going to hit it, beautiful driving
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  11. I am really tired of the hate on Nico. Ecclestone gets on and slams him...others think he is bad for the sport, which is why there's no German GP...


    F1 is an eclectic sport, has always been, and attracts those who are already interested in many other forms of open-wheel racing. I strongly disagree with the idea that certain driver raise the value and interest of the sport...what makes the sport go is a combination of things, including the rules, sponsoring, advertising, controversy, etc.

    While Lewis suffered from bad decision making, this all has to be put into perspective: HE WAS LAST YEAR'S WORLD CHAMPION. Need we say more? His frustration is tantamount to a child tantrum "I didn't win and had to see my team mate succeed!" And what really gets me is Nico's shamefacedness. While I think it was right for him to acknowledge the circumstances and luckiness of his win, he's been literally bowing and scraping as though he was unworthy of the win. Nico is MORE than deserving...who was the pole-setter last year? Who won Barcelona fair and square? There will probably be more Nico wins too...so why the shame? Feels like a PR stunt meant to placate Lewis and his crew.

    All it amounts to is utter foolishness. The race happened the way it happened. Nico won. He should be proud, and use it to his advantage. Lewis should reassess and move on. This excessive mop-up is what is bad for F1, NOT Nico Rosberg.
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  12. the_sigman

    Sim racer, F1 news editor... Racing is in my blood Premium

    He was 26 seconds back in the 60th lap, on raw pace, no team mistakes, no bad stops, no personal mistakes. Do you think he deserved the victory?
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  13. Joel


    You didnt quite get his point. Yes, Lewis should have won. But it's the same scenario we have seen many times. Let's pick Ayrton Senna with his 50 second lead, he should have won. I think the point is that Nico looked very shameful on the podium. Which is right. Because Lewis would have 100% won, but only a few people understand that anything can happen in motorsports. And he should have taken that to granted. The problem is. As soon as Nico would have shown happiness, the F1 forums would have exploded. Everybody calling him >insert multiple swear words even though he did nothing wrong. This is the problem I see these days. We don't like one drier because of the other. And the Nico Lewis case is very strongly applied in this concept. And sadly it's not a 50-50 fan ratio. More like complete F1 paddock-handful people :(
  14. the_sigman

    Sim racer, F1 news editor... Racing is in my blood Premium

    I have highlighted the point I am referring to, and I think he should not celebrate any harder.

    And Ayrton built the gap on his own, but threw it away completely on his own as well ;)
  15. Joel


    Ms neither ;) It's just if the same thing happened to Lewis, this situation would be completely different.

    True :D
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  16. Exactly. The engineer mentioned about staying out, Lewis suggested the switch. He's been in F1 for 8 years now and still behaves in an immature manner when things don't go his way. It's a team sport and his post-race behavior was deplorable, not just from podium antics and trying to escape the interview, but especially having no issues letting the world think it was Mercedes' sole fault.

    Brilliant driver. I thoroughly enjoy watching him and cheer for him. In my eyes only behind Alonso in the current grid but still got the weak mentality.

    Edit: Quick thought on the Mercedes side too. Would such thing ever happen if Ross Brawn was in charge? I think Toto Wolff is one of the very few weak points in the team.
  17. Everyones bashing Lewis for being immature but I don't really think so. He had a 20 second lead and all that effort was thrown away in the end. Lewis handled it fine, I laughed when he crashed into that sign, definitely a deserved win. He didn't hate on his team. If anything Nico was immature for celebrating the way he did. I wouldn't be so happy to win like that and say that Lewis should of won. I wonder if that pit stop call was intentionally made to stir up excitement and controversy.
  18. Andrew

    Life is Short–Talk Fast ! Staff Premium

    The pivotal radio message was not broadcast during the race, but can be heard in the edited highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix video on the official Formula One website. It includes the following exchange between Hamilton and race engineer Peter Bonnington:

    From To Message
    Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton Safety Car, Safety Car. So we are staying out.

    Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington Are you sure it’s the best thing to stay out? These tyres have lost all their temperature. Everyone’s going to be on [super-softs] now.

    Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton OK. Copy, copy. Box, box.
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