MONACO: Lewis Hamilton responded with the grace and dignity of a champion on Sunday (Monday in Manila) when he fought back his emotions after an extraordinary tactical error by his Mercedes team cost him victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The two-time champion and current series leader was on course for a well-deserved and comfortable triumph ahead of his teammate and nearest rival Nico Rosberg until, following a Safety Car intervention with 15 laps remaining, Mercedes called him in to pit for new tires.
It was an unexpected decision that transformed Hamilton’s luxurious 21-seconds lead into third place, costing him victory and a clear 27 points lead in the title race. Rosberg won and now trails Hamilton by 10 points after six races this year.
In previous years, before Hamilton left McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, he may have reacted with greater emotion, but in line with the candor of Mercedes’ senior staff, he proved mature under intense media pressure.
“I can’t really express the way I’m feeling at the moment so I won’t attempt to,” he said. “To be honest, it all happened so fast I don’t remember. … You rely on your team.”
The team issued a series of public apologies for what they described as an unacceptable mistake.
Clearly and understandably downcast, he added that he believed his rivals behind him on the track had pitted. He assumed, he said, that he had to “cover off” the threat that they would be on fresher tires when the race resumed.