Lewis Hamilton has vowed to have “tough discussions” with his Mercedes Formula 1 engineers after a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix qualifying in which he was only seventh-quickest.
At no stage during the weekend has the Mercedes W12 looked fully competitive but Hamilton feels that changes made between Thursday and Saturday exacerbated the car’s reluctance to generate tyre temperature as quickly as its Ferrari and Red Bull rivals.
This trait has been a boon at some races to date – most notably at Barcelona, where the Red Bull’s far greater tyre degradation was key to Hamilton’s victory.
But around Monaco, where qualifying typically defines the race, that particular upside of the Mercedes’ gentler tyre use is of no relevance and the downside of being more reluctant to generate good tyre temperature was particularly punishing.
“There are things that should have been done which haven’t been, and things which have been which shouldn’t have been” :: Lewis Hamilton
Reading between the lines of a terse Hamilton’s words after qualifying, he feels this should have been better anticipated.
“[The trait] is magnified here with it being a low energy circuit and with no high speed corners,” he said. “Also, today was much, much cooler.”
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas managed to cope with the problem better, qualifying third, but also mentioning the difficulty with getting the tyres working, especially early in the lap.
“Valtteri did a better job at the end of the day,” surmised Hamilton.
“I’m not sure how he was able to get his tyres working. I saw a glimpse of grip on the last lap but it was shortlived.
“It didn’t feel bad on Thursday when we had slightly better pace; we were closer to the front on Thursday.
“But we’ve not gone in the right direction since then and this was the result of that.
“Today was a question of tyres, the tyres just not working the whole way through qualifying. I don’t really have the answers to why. I kind of know but…”
Pressed further, he inferred that more could have been done to anticipate how the car’s traits would respond to a much cooler overcast Saturday, when the track temperature was around 18-deg C cooler than Thursday.
“You can see in the other races we’re very strong in the race but the Ferraris and Red Bull definitely have better capabilities in getting their tyres working and we as a team didn’t do a good enough job in providing us with the opportunity to do the same,” said Hamilton.
“It’s frustrating because it leads you down a path where there’s no gains in that direction. Today being a lot cooler, we paid the price.
“There will be tough discussions I will have with my engineers tonight or maybe after the weekend because there are things that should have been done which haven’t been, and things which have been which shouldn’t have been.
“We’ll learn from it and come back stronger.”