Mercedes has revealed that a minor mistake during Lewis Hamilton’s pit stop in Monaco proved influential in the outcome of Valtteri Bottas’ race.
Mercedes ran 1-2 during the early stages of the Monaco Grand Prix and opted to bring both drivers in for their pit stop on lap 10 when the Safety Car was deployed.
Bottas, running second, backed off in order to build a gap between himself and Hamilton, but a slightly slow stop meant he was jumped by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Red Bull was judged to have unsafely released Verstappen but such was the narrow nature of the Monaco pit lane that Bottas was pushed into the pit wall and sustained a suspected front-right puncture, later deemed to have been a cracked wheel rim.
Bottas benefitted from Verstappen’s time penalty to reclaim a position but lost out to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel due to his unscheduled stop next time around.
“When you come in for a double stack, what’s really important is making a gap between your cars so that the first car can be serviced in the pit lane and the second one can slot straight in,” explained Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles in its post-Monaco debrief video.
“And Valtteri did that perfectly on track. Lewis had his pit stop, drove out and you would’ve seen Valtteri came straight back in again.
“And now it’s a straight race between Vettel, Verstappen and Valtteri for a pit stop.
“Unfortunately as Lewis left, he clipped one of the guns and it took just a few seconds for them to reset properly and the cost to us was a couple of tenths.
“That’s it, but that’s all you need. We had a couple of tenths loss on Valtteri’s pit stop, Red Bull had a very, very good pit stop. One of the best of the year for them.”
Mercedes also released an image of the damage sustained to Bottas’ wheel in his impact with the wall.
“Verstappen came alongside, hit the left-hand side of Valtteri’s car, pushing the right-hand side into the wall and damaging that front-right wheel, which is what you can see in this picture.
“Now, this image is obviously post-race, live we can see tyre pressures and we had a quick look at them to see what was going on.
“And after a few corners, when Valtteri was back out on track, it became evident that we had a problem and we were starting to lose pressure.
“We had to react then and there to bring Valtteri straight back in. If we waited any longer, Valtteri would’ve been last. We brought Valtteri back in the pit lane, fitted the Hard tyre, which was the best of the tyres not known at the time and then he re-joined back in P4.”