Lewis Hamilton explains ‘dangerous’ radio message as rain hit Monaco track

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes garage. F1 Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in the garage ahead of qualifying. Jeddah March 2023.

Lewis Hamilton says he was close to having a “big shunt” as it felt as if he was driving on “ice” when the rain came down at the Monaco Grand Prix.

After a processional start to the Monte Carlo street race, the grand prix was thrown into chaos as the heavens opened up on lap 51 and what started as a light drizzle at a few of the corners quickly became a proper rain shower.

With the drivers on slicks at the time, and no one at all sure about how much rain was going to fall and for how long, it was a case of trying to hang on. Easier said than done.

Despite pitting for intermediate tyres, several drivers went slipping and sliding into the barriers with Hamilton telling Mercedes over the radio: “It’s getting to a point where it’s pretty dangerous out here.”

Hamilton says that’s because he felt like he was driving “on ice” and was worried he was going to crash.

“It felt very twitchy and the tyres weren’t working so it was like I was on ice,” said the Briton.

“After some time, the tyres started to work and it was absolutely fine. But I was so close to going off and crashing, having a big shunt.”

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He added: “It was very, very bad. There’s really no word to describe how difficult it was.

“I think that from my side, I couldn’t get the temperature into the intermediate tyres, so I was just tiptoeing.

“I think our crossover was good, it’s just that I lost ground to everyone when I had to stop, so we were at a bit of a disadvantage there and it just made it a little bit trickier, but no mistakes, kept it on track.”

The Monaco weekend was Mercedes’ first outing in their upgraded W14 with Hamilton crossing the line in fourth place with Russell P5.

After much speculation and debate Mercedes finally made the call to ditch their zero-pods in favour of a more conventional design while the W14 also sported a new front suspension and floor.

Hamilton says it is a step in the right direction but that the next race in Barcelona will give the team a better idea of how big a step.

“It feels like the car has progressed — it has moved forwards,” he said.

“I think next week we’ll get a much better view, in a place where we can really push, with medium- and high-speed corners, but I think that, overall, it has been a really positive weekend for us.”

Hamilton is up to 69 points in the Drivers’ Championship, putting him P5 on the log, while Mercedes remain third but closed the gap to Aston Martin to just one point.