Mercedes have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton’s pit stop ended up putting the pit crew a little out of sync for Valtteri Bottas, who ended up in the path of Max Verstappen in Monaco.
The Safety Car period caused by an aggressive Charles Leclerc sparked a flurry of activity in the pits with front-runners Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen and Vettel all diving in down the narrow pit lane.
Mercedes tried to perform a double stack with their W10 cars, a move executed to perfection earlier on in the season in China, but it did not work as smoothly in Monte Carlo.
“If you can stop under a safety car in Monaco, it really is the best of all worlds,” said Mercedes strategy boss James Vowles in Mercedes’ latest Pure Pit Wall debrief.
“From lap 11 we knew we could take the tyres to the end of the race – we believed the medium, but the hard would’ve easily made it as well and our competitors Vettel and Verstappen knew this too.
“That’s why they came in. When you come in for a double-stack safety car [stop], what’s really important is making a gap between your cars, so that the first car can be serviced in the pitlane and the second one can slot straight in. And Valtteri did that perfectly on track.
“Lewis had his pitstop, drove out, and you would’ve seen Valtteri came straight back in again. And now it’s a straight race between Vettel, Verstappen and Valtteri for a pitstop.
“Unfortunately as Lewis left, he clipped one of the guns and it took just a few seconds for them to reset properly and the cost to us was a couple of tenths. That’s it, but that’s all you need.”
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 30, 2019
To make things even trickier for Mercedes, Red Bull would have what Vowles described as “one of the best pit stops of the year” to come out side-by-side and lead to Verstappen causing a collision with Bottas, who was forced to pit again on the very next lap.
Mercedes also showed the damaged front right tyre Bottas had after hitting the barrier.
Vowles added: “We had a couple of tenths loss on Valtteri’s pit stop, Red Bull had a very, very good pit stop, one of the best of the year for them, and those extremes meant that as the cars went out and were in the pit lane, Verstappen came alongside, hit the left-hand side of Valtteri’s car, pushing the right-hand side into the wall and damaging that front-right wheel, which is what you can see in this picture.
“Now, this image is obviously post-race, live we can see tyre pressures and we had a quick look at them to see what was going on. And after a few corners, when Valtteri was back out on track, it became evident that we had a problem and we were starting to lose pressure.
“We had to react then and there to bring Valtteri straight back in. If we waited any longer, Valtteri would’ve been last. We brought Valtteri back in the pit lane, fitted the hard tyre, which was the best of the tyres [but] not known at the time, and then he re-joined back in P4.”
Verstappen was subsequently given a five-second penalty for the incident, moving him from P2 to P4 on the timesheet. Bottas was promoted back up to P3.