ALL GOOD SPORTS : Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (left), next to Princess Charlene, with his trophy as winner Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, (centre), shakes with team mate Lewis Hamilton (third) on the Monaco podium. Image: AP/Luca Bruno
MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Mercedes bosses queued up to apologise to stunned Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton on Sunday after an error that robbed him of victory at the showcase 2015 Monaco GP.
Hamilton had led from pole until he was called in for fresh tyres when the pace car was deployed with 14 laps remaining, having calculated he would pit and retain the lead.
Instead, the decision cost Hamilton the race, halved his championship lead from 20 points to 10, and handed the win to way-trailing team mate Nico Rosberg.
‘IT WAS SIMPLY A MISTAKE’
The team's non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, himself a three-times F1 champion with plenty of experience of success and failure, admitted: "It was a mistake by the team. Lewis said he was not happy with the tyres and they over-reacted completely wrongly and called him in.
“There was no need, no reason. It was simply a mistake. They over-reacted 10 laps before the end.. Where you can't pass anyway... we destroyed his race.
“I apologised already."
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said he, too, had immediately said sorry to Hamilton, who had not put a wheel wrong otherwise and was seemingly destined for a long-overdue second win in the seaside principality.
"What the hell happened there? That's exactly the right question," he said. "The simple answer is we got the maths wrong. We thought we had a gap which we didn't have when the pace car came out."
'HE'S A GREAT LEADER'
Wolff refused to blame any one person, saying the team won and lost together, and denied flatly there had been any skulduggery to favour Rosberg in front of the German manufacturer's watching senior management.
"I went to see him now in the (media) scrum and...I apologised," he said.
"That's probably the only thing you can do and he's a great leader, a great driver, and I am sure that he will understand that sometimes we make errors.
“This was such a situation."