Wolff admits poor communication dashed Hamilton’s undercut hopes in F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Toto Wolff speaks with Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes garage - Image credit: Mercedes Benz
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Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff admits discussions on the pit wall led to Hamilton receiving “confusing” messages during the pit stop phase.

With the Monaco Grand Prix proving to be a somewhat processional affair following a first lap red flag, allowing all running drivers to change tyres and fulfil the two compound regulation, it was clear from early on Sunday that a difference in strategy would be needed to make up positions.

With the Grand Prix dominated by talk of tyre management, all drivers were managing their pace given the low risk of an on track overtake. The evident stalemate eventually led to Mercedes making the decision to pit Lewis Hamilton on lap 51, with the goal of jumping Max Verstappen when the reigning champion entered the pits.

Mercedes’ strategy failed to play out as envisioned however, with Hamilton remaining behind Verstappen once both had stopped, leading to a somewhat irritated Hamilton asking why the team hadn’t told him his out-lap was critical.

Speaking to the media following the Grand Prix, Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff admitted the team had made a mistake in not conveying that message to Hamilton.

“That was a miscommunication first between us on the pitwall that we got that wrong.” Wolff told the media. “It should have been an ‘out-lap critical’, trying to undercut. But then there was a debate whether any out-lap would be enough from the new tyre. And so the message he got was at best confusing but probably wrong.

“It should have been an out-lap critical and the worry in the background was that if we thrashed that tyre in a single lap, then what would happen later. But in summary; wrong message to Lewis, this was the team’s fault.”

Wolff was then asked why the team had chosen to wait so long to pit Hamilton, despite having a sizeable gap to Tsunoda in the RB behind. Reiterating the team’s error, he claims the goal was to close to Verstappen in order to perform the undercut.

“We wanted to be close to Verstappen and then do the undercut,” He explained. “Which obviously we got the messaging completely wrong.”

With the top ten eventually finishing the Grand Prix with each in their original starting positions, Wolff believes there was little the team could have done to better their fortunes after the red flag at the beginning of the race, brought out by an incident between Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen.

“The moment the crash happened, it was clear that we were really on the back foot.” Wolff admitted. “Fundamentally, I don’t think there is a lot you can change in Monaco, you pretty much end where you start.”