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Hamilton-Panne: Mercedes was too afraid of Vettel

This Monaco Grand Prix will be discussed for a long time. Lewis Hamilton lost a sure-fire victory to the racers, at the top of the podium stood a lucky Nico Rosberg, and the leaders of the Mercedes F1 team tried to explain how it could happen all over the world. Our race analysis tries to bring light into the dark.

In a race that was less eventful until then, there were about fifteen laps ahead of the race –rather than everything was decided and the new World Cup stand had long been calculated –to the unexpected turn. Although everyone knows that something can still happen, especially in Monaco, no one really believed in it anymore.

On Saturday, when Hamilton snatched away the pole position from his teammate, it was already very important to run. Since Hamilton also decided to start the race and so skillfully pretended that even the supposedly only pit stop –Monaco typically put everyone on a one-stop strategy –no problem for the Englishman, the victory was within reach. So, while Hamilton was constantly and sovereignly distancing himself from his followers, Rosberg had rather to assume that Vettel could not move in front of him.

There was a little more Rennaction in the Tracking Field. Kimi Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were among the two Red Bull pilots. Another duel started when Max caught up with fresh super soft tires to Romain Grosejan, who had older Pirellis (soft type) on it.

This is exactly the match that brought the turn in the race. In the 63. Round strong stops when braking to curve 1 into the rear of Grosjean. Without further control and almost without braking, he struck vertically into the track barrier at a high speed. Luckily, however, he was able to get out of his car unharmed. A violent crash that finally showed what an extremely high safety standard prevails today in Formula 1, but could have gone differently with a little more bad luck.

Old tires would have reached the end of the race

To save Verstappen’s vehicle wreck, first neutralized the race by starting a virtual safety car phase (newly introduced after last year’s Bianchi-in Suzuka) and shortly thereafter also sending the real safety car on the track.

The leading cars had all used tires, which had a few laps on them, but should still have been in good enough condition. Hamilton did spark tire temperature problems to the box, but this is not unusual during the safety car phase. Thus, it was not necessarily expected that someone at the top would take the risk of a pit stop.

The Mercedes team’s strategists saw it differently. Hamilton’s lead was believed to be sufficient to get fresh tires without losing his position. Whether his distance really allowed this is not entirely certain, as we lack the necessary precise data of the vehicle positions- but it would have been almost always. It is also doubtful whether Vettel with fresh tires would have been a real threat to Mercedes. Hamilton failed right at that point. But that’s a little unfair to say, because after that, you’re always smarter. On the other hand, Mercedes already showed at the Monaco-GP 2013 how slow you can drive without being overtaken.

The crucial mistake was that Mercedes believed that Hamilton himself could stop without giving up his leadership. In order to protect against the possible Vettel attack, the World Champion was brought in. Several factors, however, suggested that Hamilton, although only a few seconds late, did not return to the track until after Rosberg and Vettel.

When the race guide finished the safety car phase eight rounds before the race and thus released the race, Hamilton tried everything, to pass by the skillfully defended vettel. But it turned out once again that this is almost impossible in Monaco without an error of the front man himself with a significantly faster car. And the Ferrari man did not do this favor in the form of a driving error to his desperate attacker. Rosberg used the duel behind him to get some air. So there was no further change of position of the first three to the finish.

It will be interesting to see how the WM struggle continues to develop. Can Rosberg maintain his momentum with the last two consecutive victories in Canada, or does Hamilton manage to re-enter the winning list? And let’s not forget: After the debacle of the previous year, when a striking energy recovery system overloaded the rear brakes and led to an almost total failure, the Mercedes team opened an account with the Canadian GP.


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