Lewis Hamilton message admission as Mercedes explain Max Verstappen plan

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, drive side-by-side at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, drive side-by-side.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admits they could have been “tidier” with conveying their plan to Lewis Hamilton at the Monaco Grand Prix.

A red flag suspension on the opening lap took away the requirement for an in-race pit stop, though Verstappen, running P6 and Hamilton a place behind were the highest-positioned drivers to make a pit stop.

Mercedes wanted to put pressure on Max Verstappen with Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen would pit the lap after Hamilton and returned to the track ahead of him, much to the frustration of Hamilton, who questioned over team radio: “Why didn’t you tell me out-lap was critical?”

Shovlin, speaking as part of Mercedes’ post-Monaco GP debrief, explained that the team were not trying to undercut Verstappen, but rather give Hamilton a fresh set of tyres to close the gap, discourage Verstappen from pitting, and therefore give Hamilton a significant tyre life advantage.

Shovlin admits that they could have been “a bit tidier” in delivering that message to Hamilton, to ensure that he did push on his out lap and deny Verstappen a pit-stop window.

Hamilton would finish a place behind Verstappen in P7, with Mercedes team-mate George Russell claiming P5 ahead of the duo, having not pitted during the race.

“We never thought we would be able to undercut Max, because the reality is if we stopped because there was no one behind us and we had clear track, they are not going to stop if they do not have the window to drop out ahead of us,” said Shovlin.

“What we thought we would have ended up with was Lewis then catching up to Max, who does not stop. Max is on a used set of tyres; Lewis is on a new set of tyres and he can put Max under pressure.

“We did not think it would really change the race situation, but in the unlikely event that George was struggling to make the finish, it did give us a little bit of an insurance policy.

More 2024 Monaco GP reaction

👉 George Russell reveals Lewis Hamilton ‘coin toss’ snub after Mercedes Monaco upgrade comments

👉 Unseen footage from another Ocon and Gasly collision emerges as Alpine mull Canada expulsion

“The bit that did not go well was because we did not tell Lewis to go flat out on that out lap, Max actually had the gap to make the pit stop, so he was able to, because he was not going as fast as he could to start with, he could push up behind George.

“He gained time against himself because he was managing. He was able to do that stop, get out in front.

“What we inadvertently ended up with was Max on a new set behind George, which was not ideal, but as you saw, it did not really look like George was at risk of losing that position. He had managed the tyres well and he had good rubber at the end.

“We could have been a bit tidier, and we could have been a bit clearer with that messaging.

“But what would have happened is we would have just had Lewis on fresh rubber, still able to get that fastest lap, which was one of the considerations why we wanted to do that and be able to put a bit of pressure on Max.”

Charles Leclerc would take the win in Monaco, his first career victory on home soil.

Read next: Lewis Hamilton upgrade confirmed after George Russell ‘coin toss’ reveal