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GP Week : Issue 221
Just what was Mercedes thinking? lewis Hamilton had the race in the bag. even with the late race safety car the win was safe. Nico rosberg was a buffer between Hamilton and third placed sebastian Vettel and around Monaco track position matters more than anywhere else. so, what the hell was Mercedes thinking? Hamilton had controlled the race from the start right up to the moment Max Verstappen attacked Romain Grosjean. While the watching world was concerned about the well- being of the young Dutchman the Mercedes pitwall was busy looking for its marbles. Hamilton’s tyres weren’t the best but they were fresher than those on Rosberg’s car. The concern was whether his soft tyres would come back up to temperature, and since Hamilton had a good lead back to his teammate the decision was made to bring the race leader in. It was a mistake that cost not only Lewis Hamilton victory but the team a 1-2 finish. For a time at the start of the race Mercedes was under pressure. Hamilton held a two second lead over Rosberg in second, himself with a two second advantage over Vettel. The warmer conditions helped the Ferrari remain in contact. But like a cat playing with a mouse, when the time came the two Mercedes drivers pulled away. Hamilton benefitted from traffic before his first stop, extending his lead out to more than eight seconds before Sebastian Vettel dived into the lane. He was close enough to force Mercedes to react on the following lap by pitting Rosberg to ensure the status-quo remained. There was no need to react with Hamilton. He was well clear. He remained clear until the safety car emerged in the wake of Vestappen’s heavy crash. The Toro Rosso had been moving well through the field thanks to fresher tyres than those ahead. He’d been allowed through by Carlos Sainz and was tucked underneath Vettel’s rear wing, a lap down but using the Ferrari like a snow plough. Grosjean was onto the rouse when Vettel cruised up behind the Lotus driver to put him a lap down. With Verstappen tight in behind Vettel, Grosjean placed his car to perfection on the inside of the station hairpin, allowing the Ferrari through while holding Verstappen at bay. The Toro Rosso clearly had more pace and swarmed all over the back of the Lotus but there was no way through. His best opportunity came heading into Ste Devote only for the teenager to misjudge the move. He lost his front left wheel as he pulled out from behind Grosjean too late and slid heavily into the barrier. By that stage Vettel was no threat to either Mercedes having fallen off the back of Robserg enough to allow him breathing space. That had not been the case earlier in the race, Vettel had even looked underneath Rosberg at the start but ran out of room. Vettel’s first corner move boxed Daniel Ricciardo out and in the process opened the door for the second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat to sneak underneath Ricciardo. The Australian fell to sixth midway through the race when Kimi Raikkonen used the undercut to gain track position. Red Bull had better pace in Monaco, a circuit where engine performance is less important than most circuits. Both Ricciardo and Kvyat had shown pace in qualifying and Ricciardo was disappointed not to have been third. The warmer race conditions did not favour them though, and on balance the Ferrari’s were quicker, at least that of Vettel was. Late in the race Ricciardo was able to put a slide job on Raikkonen, a move more akin to the speedway 22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> MONACO PARTNERS: