Pit Call the Wrong Call for Mercedes
The aftermath of the Monaco GP has been filled with debate and accusations following a fairly soporific race with a surprisingly dramatic ending. For the first three-quarters of the race, it was a normal Monte Carlo event – very difficult to overtake, resembling a train of cars following one after the other, the order unlikely to change.
Lewis Hamilton led from pole throughout the race and it seemed like it would be another easy win for the Brit, recovering from his loss to his team mate in the previous race.
Cutting it fine
17-year-old Max Verstappen was the catalyst for a surprising series of events right at the end of the race. The young driver unfortunately lost control and crashed his Toro Rosso at a very high speed into one of the narrow Monte Carlo corners, meaning that a safety car had to be called out.
Red Bull, who had had a very good race up to this point considering the problems they have had this season, and had two drivers relatively far up the points, took the opportunity masterfully and managed to squeeze a pit stop in for Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo emerged in fifth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari and in a fantastic display of skill, managed to keep the charging Finn behind him throughout the rest of the race.
It was, in fact, a brilliant team effort from Red Bull, as Daniil Kvyat ended up placing fourth just in front of his teammate. It was the young Russian’s best ever race result, and in a car which is definitively not very competitive at the current level.
Daniel Ricciardo was allowed past him in the closing laps to try and take a shot at the podium, since he had more recently had new tyres put on when the safety car came out; however, when he was unable to challenge the Mercedes or Vettel, he dropped back and gave Kvyat back the place in the last lap.
This outstanding display of teamwork and determination from Red Bull might signal a comeback in what has been, so far, a dismal season for the team; one hopes that following their engine troubles, they may be able to pull back some points for their star drivers.
Mercedes take a wrong turn
Up at the very front of the pack, drama ensued. When the safety car was signaled, a ‘virtual safety car’ mechanism came into place, which has been a part of the sport since Jules Bianchi’s terrible crash in Suzuka last year – it slows down the entire field in preparation for a safety car to emerge. However, Mercedes did not take this ‘virtual safety car’ into account and calculated Hamilton’s lead based on his current gap, determining that he could pit safely for a fresh set of tyres and come out in first position. They were wrong.
Rosberg and Vettel, in second and third at the time, did not pit, and Hamilton’s lead was not enough after the field was slowed. He came back out in third place behind the Ferrari and despite his best efforts was unable to catch either of the cars ahead of him; he finished in third after leading the entire race, based on a bad call from his team to pit when really, he didn’t need to.
Rosberg admitted it was the luckiest win of his career, and Mercedes took responsibility for the mistake, claiming that they were the reason Hamilton lost the front spot.
Will Hamilton win his missing points?
Chaos and drama has followed in the wake of this revelation, with all media outlets focused on Mercedes’ poor decision-making. For whatever reason, Hamilton’s championship lead has now been halved to just 10 points and Rosberg is looking very much back in the running, on the back of a fourth consecutive win in Monaco and gathering momentum fast.
It was, overall, a fairly standard event which changed dramatically in the closing stages. Red Bull, finally, had an excellent race and hopefully will be able to start being competitive from here on out. Hamilton will be looking to win back some of the stolen points, and Rosberg, the championship lead now in his sights, will be gunning for more.