Lewis Hamilton appeared to have the Monaco Grand Prix in his pocket until a strategy error, with the Briton pitting behind the safety car whereas Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg and Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel did not, ultimately saw the reigning World Champion finish only third.
Hamilton was naturally disappointed not to have taken his second Monaco win on Sunday, but was in a reflective mood, and insisted he could not lay the blame on his team.
“I can’t express the way I feel at the moment,” said Hamilton. “I saw the team out in the pit-lane on one of the screens and thought Nico was pitting. I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same.
“This is a race that’s been close to my heart for years and it’s special to me, so I really wanted to win. The team have been brilliant all year, so I don’t blame them.
“We’ll analyse and work out what went wrong, but we’ll do that collectively and try to improve for the future. I always say to my team and my fans, we win and we lose together. You live to fight another day.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff was apologetic to Hamilton for the miscalculation, with the team believing the Briton had a sufficient lead to come into the pit lane and continue in the lead of the race.
“We must apologise to Lewis,” insisted Wolff. “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.
“What happened? In simple terms, we got our numbers wrong. 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 tyres. 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.”