Coulthard: Monaco mistake could make Hamilton think twice in future races

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Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard believes that Mercedes’ mistake which cost Lewis Hamilton victory in last Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix could make the British driver think twice before following the team’s orders in the future.

Hamilton had been poised to clinch his second victory around the streets of Monaco before Mercedes opted to pit him under a late safety car, believing that he would retain the lead of the race such was the size of his advantage.

However, the Briton emerged back out on track in third place behind Mercedes teammate and eventual winner Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after a miscalculation by the team’s pit wall.

Writing in his column for The Telegraph, Coulthard – a veteran of 247 grands prix and now a TV pundit – said that Hamilton’s trust in Mercedes may have been hurt by the incident.

“The next time Mercedes come over the radio and tell Lewis Hamilton to come into the pits, expect him to be a little more than wary in his response – and quite rightly so,” Coulthard said.

“The decision which cost him the Monaco Grand Prix – one which even with plenty of reflection I cannot see any sense in – will dent his confidence in the team. How could it not?

“It will be extremely tricky to manage. An instruction from the team does not necessarily have to be obeyed, but if as a driver you start doubting every call then the fundamentals of how F1 works start to break down.”

Coulthard was full of praise for Hamilton’s attitude in the wake of the defeat, though, commending the Briton for being so mature on the podium and after the race.

“The Lewis of 2011 for example would have in all probability lashed out at the team,” Coulthard said. “It might have made great headlines, but here was a professional sportsman, who is paid a lot of money, being the absolute professional.

“Even after what could almost be described as a tragedy – as Nico Rosberg pretty much acknowledged, the wrong man won – Lewis showed how much he has matured.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).