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Lewis saved us, admits Wolff

NEWS STORY
28/05/2019

Like a couple endlessly bickering, for much of the Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was heard arguing with his engineer Pete Bonnington and chief strategist James Vowles over his tyres.

Pitting under the safety car, while Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas were switched to the durable hards, the world champion was sent out on softs, expected to do 67 laps on a compound that Pirelli claimed was only good for 60.

While Bonnington and Vowles insisted that the tyres would go the distance, proving he managed them, Hamilton continually pointed out that he had Verstappen all over his rear end as he faced the prospect of backmarkers up ahead.

The more that he was told that he was controlling the race, the more Hamilton insisted that he was vulnerable and that his tyres were dead.

Speaking in the moments after the race, Wolff admitted, not for the first time, that the team had got it wrong.

"I've just had a chat with James and obviously it was the wrong call," he said. "We thought the tyre would make it to the end but it didn't.

"He saved us," he added, "his driving saved us. It's something which we really need to analyse.

"What was calculated was that the medium would make it, if we were to change on lap 15 or 16, with the right management," he revealed. "So being in the lead that was a pretty straight strategy. It didn't even seem like a huge stretch, but we realised 20 laps into the race that on the left-front some graining had appeared and he started to complain about it, the understeer that resulted from the graining.

"It was clear that it would get very, very difficult to make it to the end. So we had quite some discussions about the tyre lasting another 40 laps, and I was reminded that it was only 20 laps of a normal circuit so to calm down a bit!

"But everybody knew that it was going to be a huge stretch and even probably 20 laps from the end he had 0% rubber left on the tyre with massive understeer on the slow speed. You could see around Loews the car wouldn't turn any more."


Admitting that the team feared it would pay for its mistake, Wolff, who earlier this week revealed that during tense races Niki Lauda would often silently pray, smiled and said he thought of the three-time world champion and Mercedes chairman during the final stages of the race.

"Niki would have had another little pray; 'dear God, please just help me this once'," he said. "It was a world champion's drive for a world champion that is not with us anymore. And he would have loved it because it was down to the driver and fending off another great driver behind.

"It was a battle among champions like we've seen in the past in Monaco, between Senna and Mansell and Prost and all these great names."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by DRAGON F1, 28/05/2019 13:53

"Of course, tyres have always been a major factor in F1, as are the engines, the car, and the driver!!

That's what is special about F1!

No a lot to change imo, F1 has always been err F1!!"

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2. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 28/05/2019 9:02

"Tyres are becoming to much of a factor in races now, time for a rethink."

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3. Posted by Kkiirmki, 28/05/2019 7:20

"@Bill Hopgood: I don't think Hamilton's tyres were quite as bad as he was making out. They obviously weren't in great condition, but not bad enough that he was going to go flying off the track."

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4. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 27/05/2019 17:58

"@kkiirmki, I think there is probably as much going on regarding not crashing as the tyres go off as there is regarding not being able to pass.
I think it was 2005 and one of the Renault ended up going wide at the entrance to the tunnel and a whole bunch of cars got by as he couldn't get back on line."

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5. Posted by Kkiirmki, 27/05/2019 13:43

"The fact that it's nigh on impossible to overtake in Monaco "saved" Hamilton."

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