Mercedes have explained their logic for Lewis Hamilton not taking a gamble on an earlier switch to the Intermediate tyres as conditions improved early on during the race at Monaco. Hamilton, running in eighth, appeared a prime contender to make the switch to the Intermediate, given his relatively low-risk position and the pace displayed by Pierre Gasly. The AlphaTauri driver pitted for Intermediates at the end of Lap 2, and made good progress against the Wet tyre runners as he overtook Zhou Guanyu and Daniel Ricciardo. But it took until Lap 15 for Mercedes to haul in Hamilton, a lap earlier than race winner Sergio Perez, with the seven-time World Champion emerging behind the Wet-shod Esteban Ocon. Hamilton's attempts to get past Ocon resulted in the pair making contact twice, with Hamilton ending up with a damaged front wing and Ocon being given a five-second time penalty.
Why didn't Mercedes change Hamilton over sooner?
With the Mercedes call to bring Hamilton in being made on Lap 15, Andrew Shovlin – Trackside Engineering Director at the Silver Arrows – has explained why they opted against gambling on an earlier changeover. "It was all about what was happening behind Lewis on track, and he never actually had a clear stop window," he revealed in the a debrief video released by the team. "If he had a clear window, we would have definitely done it earlier and we knew that the Intermediate would perform well. "The question is, can a car on Intermediates overtake a car on Wets? And we saw with Lewis, when we eventually went for that, with Esteban, it was a very difficult thing to do."
A different call for Russell
With Hamilton being brought in for Intermediates, Mercedes left George Russell on track until Lap 21. Rather than fit him with Intermediates, Mercedes were confident enough to go straight to the Hard tyre. Explaining the different approach in tactics between their two cars, Shovlin revealed the reason for that choice. "The reality was the cars around them and what their race situation was," he said. "With George, had he done that, he would have dropped two positions on track and, at Monaco, you don’t want to lose those positions because, if you can’t get through, there is no way of recovering it. "With Lewis, it was really that we had nothing to lose. We could see that the Alpines were going to try and get through with Alonso from wets straight to slicks so we decided to give it a go. "It all hinged on whether Lewis could recover that position he was going to drop to Esteban, and whether there was anything to gain by being able to post quicker times on those intermediate tyres but it was really down to the differing situations between the cars and who would lose the most places doing the extra stop."