Lewis Hamilton took a much needed victory in the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, which was in part down to the call that saw team-mate Nico Rosberg asked to move over from second place and let the Brit through on lap 15, by his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team. The request was made as the German was much slower than the Brit at that point in the race, due to continuing problems he was experiencing with temperatures.
Rosberg had been running in second place when the call was made, but was struggling with brake temperatures and tyres, which had allowed Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo to build a gap, with the German unable to do anything to stop him. Hamilton meanwhile was much quicker than his team-mate but due to the tight confines of the Monte Carlo track was struggling to pass the current championship leader, despite a number of attempts to get by.
Hamilton confirmed he had not put a request in to the team to allow him through, it was a decision the team took to ensure they were doing everything they could to try to come away with victory in Monaco.
“It’s very, very rare that I’ve ever asked to be let by. I was right up behind Nico and I think my engineer spoke to me and I replied and said that I was much quicker but it’s just so hard to pass, I don’t know if anything happened from that but I felt like I could win this race but stuck behind this team is not going to win.
“[I was] not thinking that something would happen after that I was actually planning to overtake him at some stage, I was looking for all of the weak points, his weak areas and I was just waiting for the moment to be close enough. I was going to take him in Turn 3 [Massenet] around the outside, which not many people do but that was the place.”
During the race, Hamilton had no idea that the request had been made to his team-mate and that he had duly complied without any question. It was a gracious move by Rosberg, in a race where we saw the Sauber F1 team-mates collide when they were asked to obey team orders and driver Felipe Nasr refused, he did not have to so readily agree. It is testament to Rosberg’s ability to see beyond himself and do what is right for the team.
The switch allowed Hamilton to catch up the thirteen second deficit that then race leader Ricciardo had manged to carve out at the front, and certainly helped the Brit on his way to take victory in the end. On hearing Rosberg’s account of the race in the debrief afterwards, Hamilton was grateful to his team-mate and long-time friend.
“Until then I didn’t know what happened, I thought he had a problem. Of course he did have a problem, I guess keeping the temperatures in, which I had as well.
“Just managed to keep the temperature in the brakes and the tyres – that makes such a big difference, my win in 2008 at Silverstone, I could keep the heat and temperatures in the tyres and no one else could, so I was grateful that I was able to do that.
“I knew that when I was behind Nico that I was much, much quicker than him but I just couldn’t see anything in his spray and also I was conscious that none of us were going to win this race if I was stuck behind, but as he said we have an agreement that when the team asks you to push and you are not able to and it is going to ruin the teams’ chances of winning, we have that kind of agreement but I didn’t know until you just told me here so I just said thanks for being a gentleman.”
With the problems he was suffering throughout the race’s entirety, Rosberg was only able to come home in seventh place which saw his lead in the Driver’s World Championship cut to just 24 points. The German still has the edge on his team-mate of course, but will the events in Monaco affect his concentration during the remaining races?