Wolff: Hamilton asked if undercut was the plan

Date published: May 26 2021

Lewis Hamilton pit-stop during the Monaco Grand Prix

Toto Wolff has indicated Lewis Hamilton was aware of Mercedes’ strategy in the Monaco Grand Prix – which he subsequently criticised on the team radio.

On a self-confessed “disaster day” for the World Champions which also included Valtteri Bottas’ retirement due to a botched pit-stop, Hamilton lost the lead in the title race to Monte Carlo winner Max Verstappen.

That was because the Briton finished only seventh, spending the entire race running behind Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.

With overtaking almost impossible, Mercedes brought Hamilton in for an early pit-stop for hard tyres in an attempt to perform the undercut on Gasly.

However, with the tyres taking longer than hoped to reach optimum temperature, the seven-time World Champion not only failed to get ahead of Gasly but also fell behind Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel.

On the team radio, Hamilton said “how am I still behind him, man, come on,” to his race engineer Pete Bonnington after finding Gasly in front again, later adding: “What has happened, guys, I’ve just lost two places.

“I don’t understand, guys. I saved the tyres to go longer. You made me stop before everyone.”

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But Wolff, the Mercedes F1 co-owner and team principal, has been quoted as having told Sky Sports, by the Dutch edition of GP Fans, that Hamilton was conversant with the plan.

“I think the strategy was very clear,” said the Austrian. “He [Hamilton] asked via the on-board radio ‘are we going for the undercut?’

“In our view, that was also the best option to overtake Gasly. His in-lap was good, the pit-stop was good and his out-lap was also good.

“Only Gasly apparently had a one-and-a-half second lead. That was not the case in our calculations.”

Monaco on Sunday was, for Wolff, an experience in complete contrast to the equivalent occasion eight years earlier when his team gained their first of their five Monte Carlo victories in the modern era, via Nico Rosberg.

Speaking to the 2016 World Champion on Sky F1 after Sunday’s race, Wolff described how the evening’s aftermath would be very different this time around – including putting himself through the pain of the afternoon once more.

“I had more fun when we won in 2013 and we partied until seven in the morning with you,” said Wolff to Rosberg. “Someone drank the water from the flowers.

“This time, there will be no party. I’m going home, I’m going to look at the data, watch the race again and eat a pizza.”

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