Lewis Hamilton led for most of the 78 laps of the Monaco Grand Prix, but finished the race in third after a bad call to pit for fresh tyres during a Safety Car period, just 12 laps before the chequered flag.
The Briton admitted the team had initially told him to stay out, but after he thought he saw the Mercedes pit crew getting ready on one of the trackside screens, he thought his team mate Nico Rosberg was stopping and wanted to stop himself.
“You rely on your team and I saw a screen and it looked like the team was out and I thought Nico had pitted,” Hamilton explained after the race.
“I couldn’t see the guys behind so I thought they had pitted, so when the team said to stay out, I said these tyres are going to drop in temperature and what I was assuming was these guys were going to be on options and I would be on the harder tyre so I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same.”
Hamilton eventually rejoined in third, behind Rosberg and Vettel, but despite having a quicker car on fresher, faster tyres, the reigning champion could not get past the Ferrari driver ahead.
The result gave Rosberg his third victory in a row on the street circuit- a feat only renowned Monaco masters Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna have achieved – and the German was quick to admit that he was a lucky beneficiary from the ultimately unwarranted pit stop.
That was my luckiest experience in racing so far. What a crazy race,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“I was surprised when I saw no one else behind the safety car than me. I didnt know what was happening in that moment. But I concentrated on getting temperature into the tyres as they felt like ice.
“Until the safety car Lewis has done a perfect job, he was better than me over the weekend, so he definitely deserved the win. I know how horrible he must feel now. This weekend was a warning for me that I have to work even harder for the next race in Montreal. For sure I also feel happy to win again here in Monaco. It’s always so special, and one part of me will celebrate that victory today. A win is a win.”
The result moves Rosberg to just 10 points behind Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team