Nico Rosberg went to victory lane in Monaco Sunday for the third consecutive year. As Rosberg celebrated, his teammate Lewis Hamilton was nearby on the podium upset with his third place finish. Hamilton could only think about what had been after doing everything but winning.
Hamilton started from pole and was enjoying a nearly 25 second lead in the final laps when it all came apart. On lap 64 of 78, rookie Max Verstappen attempted to pass Romain Grosjean, the move ended with Verstappen in the Ste Devote wall. The safety car was deployed and the Mercedes team elected to pit Hamilton for fresh tires. In the end the move lost Hamilton his chance for the win.
“It’s a special win, definitely,” Rosberg said. “Lewis has had the momentum with the results and everything and I really needed to try to break that momentum and somewhat I managed to do that this weekend. Of course taking the leading again in the world championship and winning here in Monaco, yeah, all in all really, really cool.”
Hamilton came out behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel with Rosberg leading behind the safety car. When the green light was relit, the laps were too few and even on fresher supersoft tires Hamilton was unable to make his way forward on the course that is one of the hardest to pass on in Formula One.
Hamilton later said he followed his team’s direction having assumed that Rosberg and Vettel had already pitted; neither had done so leaving Hamilton as the sole car to pit among the leaders and handing the race to Rosberg. He also was very terse saying little while on the podium. Later in the post race press conference he tried to smile and look for the positives.
“It’s irrelevant now, but obviously with the start, we got exactly the same start,” Hamilton said. “There’s only two opportunities in the race and the pit stop would have been the other one but the safety car came out at the perfect time for him so I didn’t have the chance there. Otherwise, that was it.”
Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth giving Red Bull its best result of the season. Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and the Force India of Sergio Perez were sixth and seventh.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was eighth, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr ninth and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz – who started from the pit lane – rounded out the top ten.
Mercedes later apologized for the late race call for Hamilton to pit, posting a statement on its official Twitter page: “It was all our mistake today Lewis, a split second decision and the timing didn’t work” We take this one on our shoulders.