Mercedes won't sack anyone after Monaco pit stop blunder
Toto Wolff explains more about the decision during Twitter Q&A with fans
By William Esler
Last Updated: 28/05/15 6:55am
Toto Wolff says no one will lose their job as a result of Mercedes’ strategy blunder at the Monaco GP and dismissed speculation the virtual safety car caused their miscalculation.
The Silver Arrows pitted Lewis Hamilton with 13 laps remaining in Monte Carlo when the safety car was deployed to recover the crashed car of Max Verstappen. That stop dropped Hamilton from first to third.
Taking part in a Twitter Q&A, Wolff addressed questions from fans, with many confused and angry at the decision which cost Hamilton victory.
Asked if anyone had been sacked Wolff said: “Absolutely not. We're a World Championship team and we are not playing a blame game based on a single race.”
With drivers able to drive quicker along the pit straight before catching the safety car in comparison to the virtual safety car, could that have been a factor in Mercedes mistiming the stop by a matter of seconds? “No. The decision was made one lap later,” said Wolff.
"We believed we could make a free stop to cover risk of cars behind on Super Soft (tyres). Unfortunately our data was wrong. You need the right balance between data and gut feeling. Our tools told us we had the gap but they were wrong.
"Under Safety Car you need 12 secs gap to maintain position. Our system showed us that we had that gap."
Hamilton admitted it had been a joint call between himself and the team to pit, but Wolff says the driver shouldn’t take responsibility for the error.
“We told him to stay out and Lewis said 'not good' & that the tyres had lost temperature. We had one second to react and, combined with our wrong timing data, we made the mistake of calling him in.”
The world champion was worried that his rivals had pitted for fresher tyres, so why didn’t Mercedes tell him neither Sebastian Vettel or Nico Rosberg had stopped? “Vettel still had an opportunity to stop as he had not caught the safety car,” Wolff explained.
The Mercedes mechanics were in the pitlane a lap before the decision to pit Hamilton was made and it was the glimpse of them on a trackside screen that caused the Briton to assume his rivals were pitting. So just why were they out so early? Wolff explained: “You put the guys out sometimes to cover a potential late call.”
After the race Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Sky Sports F1 there had been “confusion and a lot of people talking” leading to the wrong decision being made. However, Wolff says only a limited number of staff have radio communication.
“We have a strict radio protocol and structure how our decisions are made,” he said. “This is how we've won so many races.”
With track position key in Monaco, some journalists and fans alike questioned if Vettel would have been a threat had he pitted for supersoft tyres, particularly given Hamilton couldn’t pass the Ferrari driver on the quicker tyres.
“It's true, there's almost no overtaking in Monaco,” added Wolff. “But [Daniel] Ricciardo took Super Softs and overtook Kimi [Raikkonen].”
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.