Formula 1 Racing

Mercedes admit error in failing to warn Hamilton out-lap was “critical” · RaceFans

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2024

Mercedes admit they made a mistake by failing to warn Lewis Hamilton to increase his pace to prevent Max Verstappen gaining an advantage during the Monaco Grand Prix.

The error allowed Verstappen to pit and fit a fresh set of tyres in his effort to put pressure on Mercedes’ second car, driven by George Russell.

Hamilton was running seventh behind Russell, fifth, and Verstappen between them when Mercedes brought him in for a pit stop on lap 51. Neither driver needed to pit, so Mercedes did not expect they would be able to use Hamilton’s fresh-tyre advantage to get ahead of the Red Bull driver, as the team’s head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin explained.

“We never thought we’d be able to undercut Max, because the reality is if we stop because there was no one behind us and we had clear track, they are not going to stop if they don’t have the window to drop out ahead of us,” said Shovlin in a video released by Mercedes.

“What we thought we’d have ended up with was Lewis then catching up to Max, who doesn’t stop, Max is on a used set of tyres, Lewis is on a new set of tyres and he can actually put Max under pressure.

“We didn’t think it would really change the race situation, but in the unlikely event that George was struggling to make the finish, it did give us a little bit of a of an insurance policy.”

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However Hamilton had been told to manage his pace prior to his pit stop and Mercedes did not give him a clear instruction to lap as quickly as possible following his pit stop. His race engineer Peter Bonnington told him “we can push now” after his pit stop but also told him “out-lap normal”.

Shovlin admitted the team had slipped up. “The bit that didn’t go well was because we didn’t tell Lewis to go flat out on that out-lap, Max actually had the gap to make the pit stop. So he was able – because he wasn’t going as fast as he could to start with – he could push up behind George, so he gained time against himself because he was managing, he was able to do that stop, get out in front.”

Because Verstappen was also able to make a pit stop, he gained the advantage Mercedes was seeking for Hamilton.

“What we inadvertently ended up with was Max on a new set [of tyres] behind George. Which wasn’t ideal, but as you saw, it didn’t really look like George was at risk of losing that position. He’d managed the tyres well and he had good rubber at…

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