Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Nico Rosberg proved to be a great team player when he gave up second place to Lewis Hamilton on lap 16 of the Monaco GP.
Rosberg struggled for grip due to loss of tyre temperature and slowed down team mate Hamilton, while leader Daniel Ricciardo was able to get away. The team decided that the bigger picture was more important and having given Rosberg a lap to pick up his pace he was told to move over.
“Somehow over the weekend we have struggled to put the tyres in the right window, and it looked like at the beginning we were suffering the same,” said Wolff. “The pace that Ricciardo was pulling away at it was clear that not reversing the situation between Nico and Lewis would definitely lose us the race, so we waited for quite a while and gave him more laps for the tyres to come in but it didn’t, and then finally we decided to call it because the pace was just so much slower and it was the right decision.
“One thing that is maybe good to say immediately – if I had Niki [Lauda]’s red cap I would take it off because it is such a difficult circumstance, to give up the position and understand the global situation so it is great team play from Nico.
“First of all, for any driver it is extremely difficult to accept such a call and we understand that. That is why we look at the situation for many laps and it lost us quite some race time… we looked at it for a couple of laps and then hoped that the tyre would switch on and then Ricciardo was 10-11 seconds gone, it was like having a damaged car and that is why we decided to make that call. We debated it for quite some time because it is not what we have done in the past. It was clear that there was a problem on the car.”
Mercedes kept Hamilton out on wets until it was dry enough to go straight to slicks without using intermediates, and that proved to be the call that won the race when Ricciardo had a bad stop.
“He is part of the team so we all managed it in the right way. You could see that once he cleared Nico, then his pace was like Ricciardo’s pace. But not enough to catch up. And the only way of attempting a race win was to gamble – was to stay out on the wet tyre and it really dried up well in the first and second sector but the third sector remained wet so it was a dialogue between the driver giving the information of what he perceived out there and the discussion we had on the pit wall, whether we wanted to take the risk.
“We had a 28-second gap to Nico – the pit stop was just short of 20 seconds so we knew there was 10 seconds we could play with and give up as a buffer and we never needed those seconds so it was the right call to stay out and it was an aggressive call but the right one.”