Monaco is not known for providing fans with a lot of slick overtaking manoeuvres, and thus drivers starting from the back of the grid or for that matter anyone behind the leader has a tough time trying to manufacture those overtaking moves.
Daniel Ricciardo had secured pole position during qualifying in Monaco and looked set for a race win on Sunday. Vettel and Hamilton would have had to hope for Ricciardo/Red Bull error or a tactical glitch in order to get past the Australian.
Mercedes’s trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin has revealed that because Hamilton was struggling with his hypersofts they brought him in really early, so as to trick Red Bull into going in with an early stop for Ricciardo as well.
“We were already seeing the signs of degradation on the hyper-soft with Valtteri and you could see that when it came in, it was pretty extreme and you lost a lot of lap time very quickly,” Shovlin said.
“That’s because when you lose the front grip, the front slides more and it becomes a bit of a vicious circle.
“With Lewis, there were a few factors. We knew we were going to lose a bit of time quite quickly and if we came in, went to a faster tyre and we could push, we could actually pull the leaders in.
“When we can’t do a long stint on the hyper, we’re trying to prevent them from doing a long stint on the hyper too.
“If we had stayed out with Lewis, we would just have been losing race time.
“At that point, it was just a protective strategy rather than an aggressive one as you might do with an undercut.” he added.
Ricciardo however responded to that pit stop of Hamilton’s with the fastest lap of the race and went into the pit lane only 7 laps later.
Mercedes however were content with the weekend, as Monaco hasn’t been their strong suit anyhow.
“Our own two cars had a fairly difficult afternoon, struggling a bit with graining on that hyper-soft tyre early on and then there isn’t really any opportunity to pass,” Shovlin added.
“So third and fifth for Mercedes wasn’t the best result but this was a circuit where we were never going to be the best car.
“We were in damage limitation mode and actually it was quite a solid finish for the weekend overall.” Shovlin concluded.