Nico Rosberg thought Lewis Hamilton would still win Monaco GP
Rosberg thought team-mate would still pass him as his used soft tyres were "frozen"; Race victor admits Lewis "fully deserved it"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 25/05/15 12:34pm
Nico Rosberg says he was convinced Lewis Hamilton would still beat him to victory in the Monaco GP despite his team-mate’s highly controversial extra pitstop.
Rosberg was gifted a third consecutive win in the principality, and second victory in a row this season, after Mercedes mistakenly decided to pit dominant race leader Hamilton for new tyres after the Safety Car had been called for Max Verstappen’s crash into the barriers.
Hamilton returned to the track behind Rosberg and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in third place but, despite the grip advantage of new supersoft tyres when the race was restarted, Monaco’s narrow confines inevitably meant that the world champion couldn’t make any progress over the final eight laps.
However, Rosberg, who admits he couldn’t initially work out was going on when Hamilton returned to the track to briefly run alongside the oncoming Vettel behind him, revealed that such were the difficulties warming up his used soft tyres that he thought he would have no chance of keeping the sister Mercedes at bay.
“It took me some time because I couldn’t understand what was going on. I saw the Safety Car and there was no Lewis in front of me, so I looked behind and saw he was in a battle with Vettel all of a sudden,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1.
“I didn’t see him come out of the pits so I just saw them battling all of a sudden behind the Safety Car and thought ‘what the hell is going on?’
“Then I slowly figured out what was going on and at that point I was still sure Lewis would win because those tyres were like ice, they were frozen. My engineer was telling me the tyre temperatures and I’d never heard them in my life before with these tyres.
“They were so cold, but somehow I managed to bring the temperatures up quickly and pushed like mad after the Safety Car came in.”
Although Rosberg is now part of an illustrious, and exclusive, club of Monaco GP hat-trick victors, the 29-year-old acknowledged he was “probably the luckiest I’ve ever been in my career” to win on Sunday.
He expressed sympathy for Hamilton, who he admitted hadn’t put a foot wrong all weekend.
“It’s not the first time and it’s not the last time, but I’m sure it ranks as one of the most horrible moments for him,” Rosberg added. “It won’t be far off losing the championship in Brazil [in 2007] because Monaco is Monaco and to lose it in that way is really not good – especially as he’s done such a great job this weekend.
“He drove awesomely and fully deserved it, he didn’t put a foot wrong. So I’ve got a lot of space for empathy for him – but at the same time a lot of space to just be happy.”
The dramatic late turn of events meant that, having been set to fall 27 points behind Hamilton again in the Drivers’ Championship, Rosberg now heads to the next race in Canada next week just 10 adrift of his team-mate.
“I’ve had a good run and been extremely lucky today for sure in a big way, but I don’t think about that at the moment,” he insisted. “I just think about taking the win and enjoying the moment.”
Don’t miss the F1 Midweek Report for analysis and reaction to the Monaco GP. Natalie Pinkham is joined by F1 journalist Will Buxton and Lotus reserve driver Jolyon Palmer on Wednesday at 8:30pm on Sky Sports F1.