Lewis Hamilton speaks out following widespread criticism of Mercedes’ decision in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton has justified his tetchy “I told you guys” remark to Mercedes during the early stages of the Monaco Grand Prix.

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That was his radio communication to his race engineer, Peter Bonnington, when the race was red flagged on the first lap. Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen, and Nico Hulkenberg crashed out of the Grand Prix, giving everyone a free opportunity to replace tyres.

The majority of the field had started on medium tyres. So they could switch to hards, meet the criteria to use two different compounds throughout the race, and finish on the most durable pair of rubber possible.

However, Hamilton was one of only a few drivers to start the race on the hard tyre. That meant they had to swap to mediums during the halt, and it was evident the seven-time F1 champion was concerned that the plan had put him at a disadvantage.

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Finally, the race pace was so slow that even the medium tires made it to the finish line. Hamilton’s teammate George Russell demonstrated that it was possible by finishing sixth after completing more than 70 laps on the mediums without losing position to Max Verstappen behind.

Hamilton had no idea it would be feasible when he made the radio comment to Mercedes. Explaining the incident later, the 39-year-old said he had been overridden by the team on tyre strategy and, at the time, felt like he was going to pay the price.

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He said: “Well, I think it was going to be long either way, whichever tyre you were on, but I wanted to start on the [medium]. I felt that something was going to happen at the beginning of the race and normally that would create an opportunity to switch over to the hards and go away to the end.

“But I think at the end of the day everyone drove so slow that it didn’t make any difference.” Later in the race, Hamilton was also irked by the team’s failure to tell him that Verstappen had pitted ahead and that he should push hard to undercut the Dutchman. Boss Toto Wolff admitted his team had got it wrong.

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He said: “That was a miscommunication first between us on the pit wall. We got that wrong, it should have been an ‘out-lap critical’ in trying to undercut. But then there was a debate whether any out-lap would be enough on the new tyre, so the message he got was at best confusing, but probably wrong.

“It should have been an ‘out-lap critical’. The worry in the background was if we stretched the tyre in a single lap then what would happen later? But in summary it was the wrong message to Lewis, and this is a team sport.”