If the headlines for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix—“Rosberg gets another Monaco win”—weren’t signal enough that Nico Rosberg’s win was not exactly how the press were hoping the day would go, teammate Lewis Hamilton’s comments shed more light on how he felt about his German teammate reclaiming the world driver’s championship.
During a safety car period—which is almost guaranteed at Monaco—the team stacked the pitstops and ended Lewis’s chance for victory. Hamilton was questioning the call at the time over the radio and after the race, took the opportunity to offer his thoughts:
“When I was at McLaren we had two strategists and the strategy from my strategist was to get the best overall result for me,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 afterwards.
“Unfortunately [at Mercedes] we have one overall strategist, and he’s amazing, but unfortunately the role in the team is that he has to look out for the number one [driver in the race] and the guy in second has to come second. I knew from the get-go that I had a lesser opportunity to win the race and I needed a miracle to win at a track like this.
“An opportunity occurred where I could have come in. When I was at McLaren, l would have been pulled in on that lap and that may have given me the smallest advantage to get the jump over the Safety Car.”
Hamilton also said he had something in his eye and had to drive with his eye closed:
“I had quite a bit of wind coming in, I got close to Nico in one stage and I got some debris or dirt in my eye,” Hamilton explained.
“I was driving with one eye which is virtually impossible to do.
“Through low speed corners I had to close eye which made it worse, but five laps to go it cleared up and I was able to stay ahead of Daniel.”
Losing the special awareness with a closed eye as you head back to the kitchen is one thing but imagine driving a few laps in Monaco at over 100mph—that would be a real challenge for sure.
The weekend was already running on high emotion as Nico Rosberg’s qualifying gaff was cleared by race stewards but Hamilton still wasn’t convinced that the move wasn’t deliberate prompting team chairman Niki Lauda to try and cool the temperature prior to the race:
“This thing we have with Lewis accusing the other of doing something stupid; I tried to fix this this morning with Lewis but I couldn’t. If they hit each other at the first corner then they have a problem with me.”
Little doubt that Hamilton won’t be sending fruit basket to Rosberg’s house on his birthday.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had a relatively quiet day trundling to 4th in Monaco while teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a race to forget saying that Marussia’s Max Chilton ruined his race:
“I don’t know what he was thinking, but obviously it destroyed my race and after that point the race was gone.
“I had a good position, good speed, but again got nothing out of it. But it wasn’t really our fault.”
Spare a thought too for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who held off both McLaren’s while letting through faster traffic and managed a 5th place finish in the principality. His teammate fell victim to the McLaren of Jenson Button but Nico managed to keep the Woking boys at bay.
Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado had a fuel supply issue that prevented him from starting the race but his teammate quietly drove to 8th place and proved that perhaps the slow-speed circuits aren’t benefitting the Lotus car.
While the press seems preoccupied with nursing their wounded expectations, meanwhile the biggest news of the entire grand prix weekend was the points first ever points finish for Marussia F1! Jules Bianchi was at the right place at the right time and scored a 9th place finish giving the team their first-ever points in Formula 1.
Jules was handed a time penalty which moved his 8th place finish back to 9th and gave the team their first points after four years! An epic achievement for the team and Bianchi said:
“Wow. What a race and what a result for the whole Team. I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races, so today I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud.”
Mercedes has a lot to be happy about regardless if a nonplussed Lewis Hamilton is questioning their strategy. The team now has won every race of the season and won in a race that many believe would be much closer than their recent domination. That turned out to be true but the team still had the measure of Red Bull and Ferrari even on slow-speed circuits—something that bodes well for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was reeling in Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at a rapid clip and made a battle of it for second place in the waning laps. The Australian hasn’t put a foot wrong all year and had a race to be proud of given the deficit the team has to Mercedes.
It doesn’t bode well for Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel who had another issue that saw the 4-time champion to retire from the race on lap 8. His teammate had another good race and this only exacerbates the delta between the champ and Ricciardo.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had another tragic race with an unscheduled pit stop right after a safety car period and this placed him in the throng of traffic from which he never recovered. He also then had a coming together with McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen at the hairpin that wasn’t the best move of his career.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was having the best race of his career when an engine failure prompted yet another DNF for the Frenchman. JEV is driving very well this year but the reliability of his car is betraying every gain he’s made as a driver in 2014.
Sauber’s dual DNF continues to be the exclamation mark of their 2014 season while Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson narrowly missed a points finish with eight cars out of the race. Caterham’s woes were only heaped upon as team owner Tony Fernandes and his Queen’s Park Rangers were moved into the Premier league in football and pulled in a cool £80 million in doing so. The owner gave the team an ultimatum at the beginning of the year and so far they have not delivered while QPR has. The days could be numbered.
The odd teammate battle at Mercedes seems to be the focus and fodder for everyone and AUTOSPORT revealed that while Lewis may be nonplussed with Nico’s qualifying performance, it was Hamilton who may have drawn first blood in Spain when team boss Toto Wolff revealed that Hamilton turned his engine to maximum performance in the closing laps to protect his lead which was against team protocol. Wolff said:
“It’s never going to happen again,” said Wolff.
“I think they are probably exploring how far you can step up above the line and what the consequences are. But isn’t that normal?
“You have a chance of winning the championship and as long as it is not detrimental to the team spirit, as long as it is not underhand, we will handle the situation in the way we did before.
“The moment it goes in the direction where we believe it is not the spirit of Mercedes Benz we will act accordingly.”
Is this Mercedes enduring its own “Multi 21” moment? Hamilton also took the opportunity to imply that he simply wants a fair fight. He also dropped a hint that the telemetry may prove something other than what the stewards saw when he said:
“We’ve sat down and cleared whatever air was needed to be cleared. We’ve been through the data and seen what needed to be seen – and I wish you guys could see it. Otherwise, we’re good.”
Lewis came under criticism when he tweeted sensitive team telemetry while at McLaren so perhaps he’s learned from that situation.
Meanwhile, as time ticks by, the headlines are all about Lewis and his thoughts that “we’re not friends” even though Marussia has scored its first points. Well, maybe I’m making too much over Marussia’s victory but I’d argue that the paddock is making too much over Lewis’s emotions.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h49m27.661s 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +9.210s 3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +9.614s 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +32.452s 5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes -1 lap 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap 7. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes -1 lap 8. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault -1 lap 9. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap 10. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap 11. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -1 lap 12. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari -1 lap 13. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault -3 laps 14. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -3 laps Retirements: Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 59 laps Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 55 laps Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 50 laps Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 23 laps Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 10 laps Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 5 laps Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 0 laps Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 0 laps