Nico Rosberg: “I was sure that he would win it…”

Nico Rosberg says he believed that Lewis Hamilton would still win the Monaco GP even after his late pit stop dropped him to third.

Before the restart the German assumed that Hamilton’s fresher tyres would enable him to get by both Sebastian Vettel and himself over the closing laps of the race.

“At that time I still thought Lewis would win,” said Rosberg. “Because coming out with fresh supersofts, [while] we were on stone cold, 40 lap old or whatever hard tyres, which was going to be a massive mission not to hit the wall with after the restart, because it felt treacherous out there. So I still felt he was going to come through, and it was going to be a big battle I thought, and I was sure that he would win it. But f course I went for it, the temperature came back quick, and I could do some good lap times, so I was just pushing.”

Nico admitted that initially he didn’t realise what was going on when Hamilton pitted.

“For me stopping wasn’t really on my mind at all, because it was just a couple of laps to go, so I didn’t consider that at all. I was then very surprised to see the safety car and not see Lewis, it was a big surprise for me, I was like where the hell did he go?

“Then I saw wheelbanging [in my mirrors]. It seemed to be like wheelbanging under a safety car fighting for position behind me, between a Mercedes and a Ferrari. I’m like what the hell is going on there? Until I figured out what was going on.”

He admitted that he had mixed feeling about winning the race through a team mate’s misfortune.

“It’s mixed, it is the way it is. Lewis did a great job, he deserved to win. I’m very well aware of that. I feel for him also, because it’s a horrible way to lose a race like that. On the other side a win is a win, and I’ve learned that in sports it’s such a big factor is luck, and all these things play a role. I’ve learned t just take it, because winning Monaco is winning Monaco, and it’s just awesome.”

Asked about his gracious attitude to his team mate he added: “It’s just how I feel. I have a lot of space for empathy towards him, because I know how horrible the day is for him after such a strong weekend for him, and then to lose it right at the end like that, that really sucks. So I have a lot of capacity for that, so I do feel that.”

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Toto Wolff: “We got the maths wrong…”

Mercedes has admitted that it simply got it wrong when it brought Lewis Hamilton in for a late pit stop in Monaco, handing the win to team mate Nico Rosberg.

The situation developed after Max Verstappen’s accident triggered a safety car, which was quickly changed into a real safety car.

Watching a big TV screen, Hamilton thought that his pursuers Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel had pitted behind him, when it fact they hadn’t. Assuming that they would have fresh rubber and be right with him at the restart he expressed his concerns about his own tyres to the team.

The strategists were guided by data that told them there was a big enough gap for Lewis to pit and get out still safely in front, but the numbers were wrong by a few seconds – and that proved to be the crucial difference for Lewis.

“The simple answer is we got the maths wrong,” said Toto Wolff. “We thought we had a gap which we didn’t have when the safety car came out, and Lewis was behind the safety car and the calculation was simply wrong.

“It was the team’s decision. We are all in this together, we make decisions together and it is not one person to blame and we win and lose together and that is clear. In Monaco you have no GPS and this makes the whole exercise more difficult, so this is why we got it wrong when we switched from the virtual safety car to the safety car.”

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FIA wants more notice of engine reliability upgrades

The FIA has moved to clarify the process by which manufacturers can modify their power units on reliability grounds.

Changes can be made on that basis without the use of tokens, and clearly the governing body has felt the need to make the process as open as possible – and at the same has tried to ensure that it has adequate time to deal with requests for changes, which at times been very last minute, by introducing a lead time of eight days.

A Technical Directive from Charlie Whiting said: “All requests for changes to the homologated power unit for the purpose of improving reliability should be made to me in writing with copies to the FIA F1 Engine distribution group. All such requests, with supporting data where necessary, should be made at least eight days before the modified power unit is first used at an Event and must include:

“1. A complete explanation of the failure, this should not only include clear photographic evidence but also when and where the failure(s) occurred.

“2. Part number references for both old and new parts.

“3. Full drawings of any new or modified components. Any pictorial or CAD views should be represented with the same zoom and angle.

“4. Test and investigation results supporting the request where applicable.

“5. Any relevant supporting information from external suppliers.”

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Pitlane start for Sainz after weight check penalty

Carlos Sainz Jr will have to start the Monaco GP from the pitlane after missing a weight check in qualifying.

The Toro Rosso driver had made Q3 and earned an encouraging eighth place on his first F1 appearance in Monaco.

He said that he didn’t see the red light at the entry to the pit lane. The FIA does have some leeway if the car is immediately pushed back to the weighbridge without the team working on it, but in this case that didn’t happen and STR carried on unaware that he had missed the check, so the harshest penalty was inevitable.

The penalty means that Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen and Jenson Button will start in eighth, ninth and 10th spots.

Romain Grosjean had earlier been given a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

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Daniel Ricciardo: “I sound like I’m being miserable…”

A deeply frustrated Daniel Ricciardo says he should have qualified third and not fourth in Monaco after a miscommunication with the pit wall compromised his run.

The Red Bull driver didn’t switch to maximum power mode at the start of his lap in Q3, and just in the first sector he lost the 0.2s that cost him a chance to beat Sebastian Vettel to third.

“I sound like I’m being miserable,” he said. “But we should be third, and that’s legit. That’s not saying I locked up a brake or something. We started the lap without maximum power for qualifying. It was just a miscommunication with the pit wall, and I was two-tenths slower than before entering Turn One. That’s the two-tenths we needed to be third, and that’s free lap time we gave away.

“For that I’m disappointed because what’s a good result should have been a great result, but I’ll try and make a rocket start tomorrow, and make it count. It’s the last place where you want to give away free grid positions.”

Like other drivers Ricciardo had problems in the cooler weather today.

“That’s for me why I was struggling a lot in qualifying, and even Q3 I thought I had to drive out of my skin to get the tyres in. We were doing two warm-up laps and getting into it, but the tyres never felt like they were coming in and giving the right grip. It was tricky. I think if we could get them working we would be a lot more competitive, that seems to be a weakness for now.”

Despite his disappointment Ricciardo says he’s determined to beat Sebastian Vettel to third place on Sunday: “We’re in a nice position to just attack. We’ll take risks. Obviously points are nice, but I think if it’s a fourth or a podium, we’ll go for a podium. A fourth place isn’t anything to get too excited over. We’ll try to make it happen somehow. Strategy is always tricky with just one stop here, maybe a few rain drops or something will spice it up and I’ll make sure I’m there in the right place.”

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Max Verstappen: “It’s all in your confidence…”

Max Verstappen was the star of first practice in Monaco on Thursday when the Toro Rosso driver finished the session in second place, behind only Lewis Hamilton.

Remarkably it was also the 17-year-old’s first ever experience of the circuit, while all the other 2015 rookies have driven there in other categories. Rain meant that FP2 didn’t play out properly, and he hit traffic on his early run, so he didn’t have a chance of a repeat. It will be fascinating to see if he can carry his early form into the rest if the weekend.

I was surprised,” said the Dutchman. “After the flag I was looking up at the screen and I couldn’t find myself, and then I went a bit up and went alright – that is a good lap then. The whole session I was building up slowly but already from the simulator to here, I think it was very helpful and it felt straight away very good on the track, and I could get a lot of confidence in myself. The laps were just coming.”

Verstappen said it didn’t take long to get up to speed: “Ten laps. You don’t want to take a lot of risk in the beginning, so you adjust your braking points lap by lap and cornering wise, I felt quite comfortable from the start. If you adjust the braking points, you get more temperature with the tyres and the brakes and everything, it just works better.”

Crucially, he’s fully confident in the car.

It is really predictable round here, and that is very important if you know what the car is doing and you get a lot of confidence. Basically, a street circuit is all about confidence and feeling with the car, even set-up changes don’t make a massive difference, it is all in your confidence.”

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I haven’t given up on a top drive, says Hulkenberg

Confirmation that Lewis Hamilton is committed to Mercedes for another three years has put the focus back on the driver market – and the lack of potential openings in the top teams.

The likes of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg have been on the cusp of moving up a rung in recent years, but neither has managed to do so, and it could argue that time may run out for them as younger drivers with momentum behind them move into the frame over the next few years.

Hulkenberg is adamant that he has not given up hope of making the move.

“I think a lot about it is timing, and the driver market, how it was the last few years,” he said in Monaco today. “There’s a lot of good drivers around that have taken up the good seats, and there are only obviously a small number available. I very much like to think that there’s still an opportunity for me. The future will tell.

“Of course it’s a bit of a disappointment that I’m not there yet, where I want to be. I’d love to be in a car that’s capable of winning, and fighting for the title. Of course there’s a bit of disappointment there. If you live in that thought obviously that’s not going to help, you’ve got to keep working and move forward.”

The German admitted that it’s become harder to make an impression this year, given that Force India’s competitiveness has dropped off: “It’s more difficult obviously if you don’t have the potential or the tools to do these kinds of things. It hurts. I think people know that it’s not necessarily the driver who’s not delivering, and we know that. It’s just what it is sometimes, it’s F1.”

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