Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn reckons Lewis Hamilton’s frustrations at Mercedes during the Monaco GP shows he’s “a bit out of practice” at handling difficult weekends.
Hamilton is by far one of the most decorated drivers on the grid, and in recent years, has cruised to six world championship titles, only stopped by team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016.
Yet at the Monaco GP the Briton suffered an uncharacteristically miserable weekend, and despite saying he was happy with his set-up on Thursday ahead of qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton’s 14-point lead was cut in one fell swoop.
Clearly uncomfortable in the car, the seven-time world champion qualified seventh ahead of the race on Sunday, when his team-mate Valtteri Bottas planted a third fastest time, starting just behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was due to start on pole.
After a left driveshaft failure for Leclerc, Verstappen inherited pole position and stormed his way to a maiden victory in the Principality.
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In a stark contrast, Hamilton was left fuming on his team radio after a poorly-timed pit stop saw them gain no advantage with the undercut throughout the race, ultimately finishing where he started seventh.
Hamilton called the weekend “terrible,” and said talks would happen behind closed doors with the team to find out what exactly happened.
“Lewis was clearly agitated with the way his weekend was going in Monaco and that frustration boiled over in the race, when he was unhappy with how his strategy was playing out,” said Brawn in his latest post-race column for the official F1 website.
“He’s a fierce competitor, so it should be expected that he will get frustrated when things don’t go his way. He has rarely had to experience this, so he’s a bit out of practice in handling these things.
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“Yes, he was pretty robust but when he reflects on this weekend, I’m sure he will look at it differently. Mercedes and Lewis have been together for a long time – and know each other well – so they will get over it. It won’t be an issue.”
Verstappen now leads the F1 standings for the first time in his career, with a four-point cushion over Hamilton, with 18 races still remaining of a very season.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez finished fourth, giving the Milton Keynes based team the lead of the constructor’s standings too heading into Baku on June 6.
“Max and Red Bull were in top form in Monaco,” Brawn added. “I don’t know what would have happened in qualifying if it had run its full course and whether or not Max might have taken pole – but in the race, he was imperious.
“Mercedes won’t have off weekends very often so Red Bull can’t rely on these gifts from their rivals. But if Red Bull are to stand a chance of winning the titles this year, it’s vital that they take their opportunities – and they did just that in Monaco as Mercedes struggled.
“This championship fight is going to be tooth and nail and come down to a few points here, a few points there. But to see a 30-point swing in their favour, with Red Bull now leading the constructors’ championship by a single point, is very encouraging for the team.”