"It was a collective decision between us all," says Hamilton; World champion thought rivals had pitted; But Mercedes insist they were completely to blame for the wrong call
Monday 25 May 2015 09:03, UK
Lewis Hamilton says he thought Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel were also pitting for fresh tyres in the closing stages of the Monaco GP, as he attempted to shoulder some of the blame for the pit call which cost him victory.
The world champion had enjoyed a clear advantage at the head of the field, but pitted with 13 laps to go after the Safety Car was deployed when Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean made contact at Sainte Devote.
Hamilton admits a glimpse of one of the track-side screens meant he thought his rivals were stopping.
"You rely on the team. I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted." he said.
"Obviously I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting. The team said to stay out, I said 'these tyres are going to drop in temperature,' and what I was assuming was that these guys would be on options and I was on the harder tyre. So, they said to pit. Without thinking I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same."
Asked if he had spoken to the strategists that made the call, Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: "No, but it was a collective decision between us all."
His Mercedes team, however, insisted they should shoulder all of the blame after miscalculating the gap between Hamilton and the then second-placed Rosberg.
"It was our decision to call him in and our mistake, pure and simple; in these situations, a driver trusts his team," team chief Toto Wolff said.
"Lewis had driven flawlessly until then and really delivered a perfect weekend, with a stunning pole lap and a masterful race. There's nothing more to say other than to highlight the grace with which he handled the situation; he was a leader and a true sportsman this afternoon."
Hamilton rejoined in third, behind Rosberg and Vettel, but despite having a quicker car on fresher, faster tyres, the Briton could not get past the Ferrari driver. With overtaking notoriously difficult in Monaco, Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz could not understand giving up track position.
"Even if Vettel had stopped, Mercedes would still have had track position," said Kravitz. "Track position is king here and even on the quicker tyre Vettel wouldn't have been able to get past, just like Hamilton wasn't able to get past."
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.