Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has issued an apology to Lewis Hamilton after a mistake on the pit wall cost the Briton a near-certain victory in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton had dominated proceedings around the streets of the principality all weekend long, storming away from pole position to open up a 19-second lead heading into the final 15 laps of the race.
However, a crash between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean resulted in a late safety car period, during which Mercedes opted to pit Hamilton in the belief that he would retain his lead.
The team had miscalculated Hamilton’s advantage, though, meaning that the Briton emerged on track in third place behind teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. He was unable to pass the drivers, forcing him to settle for P3 at the line.
Hamilton was evidently disappointed after the race, and Wolff was quick to apologize to the Briton.
“We must apologize to Lewis,” Wolff said. “We win and we lose together and what I am proud of in this team is that we take collective responsibility.
“But this is a day when we simply have to say sorry to our driver, because our mistake cost him the victory here.”
Wolff admitted that Mercedes had made a miscalculation, believing that Hamilton’s lead was bigger than it actually was.
“In simple terms, we got our numbers wrong,” he said. “We thought we had the gap for Lewis to take fresh tyres and come back out in the lead behind the safety car, ahead of Nico and covering off any risk of another competitor taking fresh tires.
“But the calculation was incorrect and he came out in third place. It was our decision to call him in and our mistake, pure and simple; in these situations, a driver trusts his team.
“Lewis had driven flawlessly until then and really delivered a perfect weekend, with a stunning pole lap and a masterful race. There’s nothing more to say other than to highlight the grace with which he handled the situation; he was a leader and a true sportsman this afternoon.”
Wolff confirmed that there would be an internal investigation into the incident at Mercedes, and he hopes that the team will emerge stronger for the incident.
“We now need to stay calm and analyse how we made the mistake this afternoon,” Wolff explained. “We will be harshly self-critical behind closed doors and this experience will make us a better and a stronger team in the races ahead.
“There is still a very long way to go in this championship and today showed that we have the performance in our car to do the job this year.”