‘Lewis Hamilton joked about having Red Bull floor pictures saved on his phone’

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, May 2023.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, May 2023.

Sergio Perez’s crash at Ste. Devote on Saturday allowed the F1 world a good look at the floor of his Red Bull RB19, including Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver made a critical error just seven minutes into the qualifying hour on Saturday, missing his braking point into Turn 1 and hitting the barriers hard enough to rip a corner off his car.

Coming so early in qualifying, the mistake doomed Perez to a 20th-place grid start and the Mexican failed to make much forward progress over the course of the Grand Prix itself.

Even worse for Red Bull, the recovery of Perez’s car meant a crane operator hoisted the RB19 high into the sky, allowing keen-eyed photographers to snap detailed pictures of the floor design that is the envy of the F1 field and will allow for careful analysis amongst the technical chiefs at rival teams.

The incident came just hours after Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had offered photographers a similar opportunity when he crashed his W14 at Mirabeau, an incident that engineering chief Andrew Shovlin moved to downplay as he said Red Bull would likely be far more annoyed than Mercedes at having their secrets exposed.

Reflecting on the weekend’s action on the Chequered Flag podcast, host Rosanna Tennant revealed she’d had a brief chat with Lewis Hamilton about the incident, and that the seven-time World Champion had paid close attention to the RB19’s floor design when it was revealed to the world.

“Lewis Hamilton was joking with me that he’s saved the photos of the floor of the Red Bull on his phone, and he’ll looking at them very closely, zooming in,” Tennant laughed as she spoke with guests Harry Benjamin and Jolyon Palmer.

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Benjamin then said he believes Mercedes will be satisfied to come away with fourth and fifth place in Monte Carlo, having introduced a significant upgrade package to the car despite the unique demands of the tight street circuit.

“I think Mercedes will be happy that they managed to have a fairly solid clean weekend,” he said.

“Yeah, there were a couple of skirmishes with the wall but, Spain up next, that is a track where you can properly get the data for these upgrades and the result of a fourth and fifth of Monaco will buoy them up for that.”

Palmer, a former F1 racer with Renault, was less positive about Mercedes’ weekend, saying that it was more a case of strategic nous, rather than outright performance, that gave them a reasonable points haul.

“No, I don’t think you can say that,” he said, when asked if the upgrades had helped the team move forward.

“Maybe they have, but we’ll find out next week when we’re on a better track – a better test track for it in Barcelona. They were just an example of a team getting things roughly right with strategy and they didn’t do anything special.

“In fact, Russell had a golden opportunity to take the podium when he stayed out, and did one stop in the race but then made a mistake and then hit Perez and got a five-second penalty for the reg-join.

“But going through that run-off at Mirabeau cost George Russell a great chance of actually beating Esteban Ocon and taking a podium from eighth on the grid. So that would have been something – fourth and fifth is solid.

“I guess they beat Ferraris which got the strategy wrong pitting for the intermediates, but kind of not a huge amount more than that. They’ll be disappointed that, on merit this weekend, Ocon has beaten them.”