It was a miserable weekend for Mercedes in Monaco, as the team saw a poor tactical decision condemn Lewis Hamilton to a seventh place finish and a wheel nut issue force Valtteri Bottas out of the race.
To make matters worse, main title rivals Red Bull Racing jumped into the lead of the Constructor’s Championship, while Max Verstappen also took the lead in the Driver’s Championship.
Lewis Hamilton Fumes After Bungled Strategy Call
Lewis Hamilton was fuming over race radio and finished in his starting position of P7 after dropping three places when a failed undercut left him vulnerable to an overcut from the cars behind, however he salvaged an extra point with the fastest lap of the race.
‘Congratulations to Max and his team, they did a better job today. For our team, it’s through our losses and our mistakes that we always grow stronger. This has definitely been a poor weekend overall in terms of our performance, but this team has shown time and time again, how we come back fighting. There’s no finger pointing, we win and we lose together – we just need to find our feet and stay cool, we have 18 races left and there’s a long way to go in this fight.
‘We’ll be working hard because we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again. There’s no reason why we should be performing like this on any weekend with all the experience we have together as a team. We’ll have some good discussions internally, it’s painful to learn these lessons but we’ve done it many times before,’ said Hamilton.
Disappointment For Valtteri Bottas
In a one in a million freak accident, a stripped wheel nut meant Valtteri Bottas had to retire from the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix as it was impossible to replace his tyre.
‘Sitting in the car at the pit stop, I knew it was a slow one and I was calculating Sainz getting past, then Norris, and when it got to 30 seconds, I couldn’t believe it. It’s obviously hugely disappointing and we need to learn so it never happens again. It was bad luck from my side and as a team, it will be a priority for us to improve our pit stops moving forward. Our pit stops haven’t been our strongest point this year – there’s no one to blame, as a team we just need to be better.
‘Between lap 15 and 20, it was a good margin between Max and I but when Max started to lift his pace, I noticed my front left started to give up more than his and I lost some ground. There was a gap when I stopped and perhaps it would have been difficult to fight for the win, even though we would have fought hard, but second place should have been possible today.
‘We’ll have a meeting to go through the race in detail on Tuesday, to understand what I could do better and what we can do better, then we’ll move on and get ready for Baku,’ added Bottas.
Toto Wolff Left With Sick Feeling
Despite being able to take the positives from the lessons learned, team boss Toto Wolff still couldn’t help but feel sick as it all unravelled for his team on Sunday.
‘Days like today are the ones we learn the most but that doesn’t stop the experience from feeling awful. We had a pretty terrible race day on Sunday, we had a lot of degradation with Valtteri, while still being in the hunt for the podium. Then we machined a wheel nut at the stop, which has never happened to that extent before, and he was forced to retire.
‘With Lewis, we just didn’t have the pace in the car – it’s as simple as that. The undercut looked like the only feasible way of clearing Gasly and there wasn’t any mistake, the outlap was good, the pit stop was OK but it just wasn’t enough.
‘You have to take a weekend like this on the chin – today we lost a few points but this is a long championship, it is going to swing back and forth and in the end we will see in Abu Dhabi who has their nose ahead. We will regroup and look back, as much as it hurts, to learn the lessons and come back stronger,’ concluded Wolff.