Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2021

Hamilton plans tough talk with Mercedes over “completely wrong” set-up changes

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he will have “tough discussions” with his Mercedes engineers over the set-up direction the team took for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The world champion will start tomorrow’s race from seventh on the grid. The team appeared to have better pace on Thursday in Monaco, and Hamilton believes lower temperatures at the track today contributed to their loss of performance.

“It wasn’t feeling bad on Thursday,” Hamilton explained. “I think we had slightly better pace, we were closer to the front on Thursday, But [we’ve] not gone in the right direction over over the last day, and then today was the result of that.”

“Today was a question of tyres,” he added. “The tyres just stopped working so you’re just sliding around.”

Hamilton remarked on the deficit to their rivals after his first run in final practice as the team realised its set-up changes had not worked as intended. Further alterations did not help the situation, said Hamilton.

“There was lots of changes that we did to the car after FP3 because FP3 was a disaster. And that’s from the work that’s been done over last day or so. It’s a completely wrong direction, [we] completely missed the ball.

“We then made some changes to try and take steps backwards and move the car to a different place. And the car was worse than ever. So I think we really lost our way from Thursday.”

Both Ferrari drivers out-qualified Hamilton, as well as his team mate, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, McLaren’s Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

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“The Ferraris obviously and Red Bulls definitely have better capability in getting their tyres working,” he said. “And we as a team didn’t do a good enough job in providing us with opportunity in order to do the same.

“Of course it’s frustrating because then it leads you down a path, which there’s no gains in that direction. On Thursday it was better with higher temperatures today is a lot cooler and I paid the price of that.”

Falling to seventh on the grid at a circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult is “a little frustrating”, Hamilton admitted. “I don’t want to be critical of the team, but behind closed doors, I will be. And we’ve got to work harder.”

“There will be some tough discussions that we’re going to have, that I’m going to have with my engineers,” he added. “Tonight, or maybe after the weekend, because there’s things that should have been done and haven’t been done and we’ll learn from it and we’ll come together stronger in the next race.”

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said he wasn’t surprised by Hamilton’s criticism of the team’s approach.

“First of all, we want the drivers also to speak their mind, and there was a lot of frustration when you’re finishing P7 in Monaco. Pretty much that’s the end of potential, the end of the of the week.

“Then venting your frustration is absolutely okay. Nobody in the team takes this the hard way because we express it the other way around, too.

“He is the first one to acknowledge and to apologise when things go wrong. He’s done that in public and privately. And as a group, I think that’s one of our big assets that made us champions in the past, that we are able to take it on the chin.”

The team has already begun debriefing on how to improve their approach with the car on cooler days.

“There was one particular aspect of tyre heating that we discussed this morning and on Thursday night where we could have taken a different direction, a direction that [Hamilton] was interested to pursue that we didn’t. And that was exactly the content of our discussions now, how can we go into an exploration mode when we expect much colder temperatures?”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “Hamilton plans tough talk with Mercedes over “completely wrong” set-up changes”

  1. Bottas did OK. The issue seems to be the team not following Hamilton’s suggestion. Maybe he was right, but maybe too he became too he lost concentration as a result of mulling that issue over too much? This does sound like what Lewis sounds like when he’s having one of his bad weekends…

    1. Solid consideration there @david-br. I think it is quite possible that Hamilton being somewhat frustrated about the team not being into his hunch/setup direction proposal made it harder for him to just get on with making it work for him like Bottas did.

      It does show why the team can be happy to have Bottas in the team as a comparison, especially on qualifying pace.

      1. @bascb Definitely a possibility – with the margins so tight at Monaco this year, he must have felt that Mercedes blew their chance by taking setup in the wrong direction. No doubt he’ll reset for tomorrow but it’ll take some unpredictable events to move him very far up the ranking.

      2. Good points @bascb and @david-br, during reading the article I also wondered whether Bottas, who thought he might have had a chance at pole if not for the red flag incident, would be mentioned,and what he did differently and why.

        1. In the article about the race Wolff mentioned, that it was about upping the tyre temperature pre quali runs and that in the end they did do that, but not as much as Lewis had wanted @bosyber, @david-br. And that in the end it meant that they were still struggling with the tyres more than others in the race.

  2. Count on Hamilton to throw his team-members under the bus when things go bad. Common practice.

    1. *facepalm*

      He never does that. And he didn’t do it today either.

    2. @Initially Hamilton never threw his team under the bus, stop lying.

      1. The guy didn’t said “they” not even once here yet he’s throwing the team under the bus.

        Hamilton simply can’t win with some people.

  3. The excuses machine is in overdrive – Bottas qualified fine, just behind Max and he was on a faster lap.

    First it was “I had damage” and now you blame the team for car setup. If both drivers would be way off pace than maybe, if just 1 than it is most times due to the driver so blame yourself and get on with it.

  4. Yes, the changes have been bad, and they went even worse. It happens. But tomorrow is the day that counts.
    Let’s see and debrief afterwards.

    And we have the whole season ahead still

  5. That’s the n.1 rule in Monaco. Don’t be too hasty in set-up or driving or anything else. Track gets better in every lap and through saturday and sunday.

  6. Chris Horton
    22nd May 2021, 19:25

    What happened to winning and losing together?

    Words/actions disparity. (As usual).

    Reply moderated
    1. Read the article and try again.

      1. Chris Horton
        22nd May 2021, 20:11

        I’ve seen it all 1000 times Swifty. Too often fans are blinded by their fandom.

        We should always try to be objective even if it’s the team or driver we support.

        Reply moderated
    2. @Chris Horton Who
      “a little frustrating”, Hamilton admitted. “I don’t want to be critical of the team, but behind closed doors, I will be. And we’ve got to work harder.” is that where you are getting your hate from? cherry picks???

      or maybe you dont read rest of articles? maybe you only like your own picks?

      “There will be some tough discussions that we’re going to have, that I’m going to have with my engineers,” he added. “Tonight, or maybe after the weekend, because there’s things that should have been done and haven’t been done and we’ll learn from it and we’ll come together stronger in the next race.”

      All he is saying as a whole team, they need to improve, and learn from mistakes… and worst part of your meaningless comment is the race didnt even start yet…

  7. Davethechicken
    22nd May 2021, 19:55

    Hamilton is clearly disappointed and frustrated. I agree he could have been a little less critical of the team. Some things just have to be taken on the chin.

  8. What’s most annoying is Wolff who every chance he gets goes on about the ‘Mercedes value’ of loyalty, then suddenly it’s all fine to rip the team in public after one poor qualifying. This of course follows him showing Bottas loyalty with one year contracts. His values are now known to everybody.

  9. @balue so you are calling Ian racist and reporting his post just for pointing out that the F1 fans (most of which are white and male) have a clear tendency to be overly critical of the only black driver in the grid while giving a pass when other drivers do or say similar things? Give me a break, mate.

    1. @gsagostinho No I’m reporting his post for being racist which is exactly what it is. Yours too by the look of it.

      1. The racists comments here are yours. Reported you

  10. *facepalm*
    You just showed the ultimate truth of Ian’s words.
    You should be ashamed.

    1. guys.. you re all stereotyping here… I m sure the majority of Hamilton’s fans are his fans irrespective of his skin. True F1 fans like a driver because they like his driving style, skill etc (or maybe because they hail form the same nation) If you like / dislike a driver just because he is black / white is pretty stupid.

      1. @barkun – you are spot on! To play the race card at a sport where its players are most known by their helmet and cars is, at the very least, a disgrace.

        That said, touchy subject, but I’m afraid @balue has a point in his first reply. The more you let those ideological tantrums pollute the community the worst outcome will appear. We should favour racing talks and dismiss any discriminatory chatter instead of inflaming it.

        #WeRaceAsOne
        or not?

  11. While this result is disappointing for Lewis, he would be better to accept this result and not try to blame anyone. Mercedes don’t design their car for Monaco, they designed their car to win at the majority of race tracks. Monaco is one of the worst race tracks for Mercedes to compete at. This is why we see cars from Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri, and Alfa Romeo besides the Red Bull and Mercedes cars in the top 10, because it is a track where those cars can “punch above their weight” at. So seven different cars in the top 10. Getting seventh place on the Starting Grid means Lewis needs to rely on strategy and skill more than if he had gotten a front row starting place. His aim isn’t so much to win the race as to finish within 14 points of Max.

  12. This is interesting for what it says on Hamilton’s imput on engineering type decisions:

    “There was one particular aspect of tyre heating that we discussed this morning and on Thursday night where we could have taken a different direction, a direction that [Hamilton] was interested to pursue that we didn’t.

  13. Sometimes you win, sometime you loose. That’s how the world works. As good as Mercedes is, they have made the odd mistake from time to time. Lewis’ driving style didn’t seem to help him either, as he is kinder on his tyres than Valtteri. Valtteri seems to have fewer problems on low-grip surfaces than Lewis does.
    Maybe Lewis should’ve tried two consecutive flying laps, as Valtteri did in Q2.

  14. Almost feels like a tantrum of sorts on his part for having his suggestion rejected. That he also rejected the qualy-focused setup accepted by BOT is telling indeed. Utterly illogical, from a man who successfully defended here against a rampaging RB15 nearly 2s faster per lap a mere 2yrs ago.

    BOT showed what the car easily should have done while, it seems, HAM couldn’t let go of a disagreement with the technical team and went through qualy in some type of sulk. This bore the hallmarks of the immature HAM of years past.

    He hit a barrier before Portier on his final flying lap and is headed into Sunday in a pretty poor state of mind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Lap 1 DNF from him tomorrow.

    1. I prefer your comments when you’re not trying to read into someone’s emotions through statements they made in response to questions that aren’t told and via the medium of a written piece interlaced with the authors opinion. You’re not Derren Brown and mind magic, like all magic is a trick. Focus on being intelligent, not pretending that you know something we all know you can’t possibly know.

      1. I’m in two minds about that. I agree that it’s possible to project too much (and, of course, be inexplicably negative and hostile about a particular driver and their mind state). But also drivers are emotional beings, and Hamilton for his part has been clear that he’s driver who expresses and works his own emotions, he gets deflated but refocuses. That’s what he said about Imola, for example. He felt like giving up but during the red flag refocused – that self-worked change in mind set then allowed him to race through the field brilliantly. For me, the comments made post qualifying read like the same kind of situation and, maybe, give a clue to why he performed at a poor level by his own standards. But sure, it’s a lot of conjecture.

  15. At least Max takes things in his stride. Mr Calm Personified.

    https://twitter.com/lilacmercedes/status/1396108816824025098

  16. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd May 2021, 1:07

    Impressive how wrong even a seasoned driver like Lewis can get the set-up. This whole F1 thing might be harder than we all thought…

    1. @freelittlebirds Sure, though I think in this case he’s implying that his own instinct was to keep the previous setup or go in another direction.

  17. Karthik Mohan
    23rd May 2021, 5:28

    Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t like apples.”

    People quoting Hamilton: “Hamilton says farmers growing apples are terrible. Hates every fruit vendor too.”

    Comments section: “Hamilton wants to kill every single farmer who grows fruit and he also wants to murder the family members of the farmers in front of their eyes and he also wants to burn their farms and he just wants to nuke every country on the planet. It is to be expected of him because he is against racism.”

    The absurdity of the anti-Hamilton brigade just keeps getting worse every single year! No other driver has such backlash!

    I don’t know how anyone could find a fault with a driver saying he didn’t like the set up of the car and he is going to talk about it to his team! And when Lewis Hamilton wins its because of the car, but when he doesn’t it’s his driving skill? Lol.

    The internet was awash with memes showing Hamilton claim that it was interesting tactics to secure pole, and everyone was outraged. Well, if you see the image, it’s clear as day that the screengrab of Hamilton saying its interesting tactics isn’t from the same track, or a track in the same country, or in fact the same year! It’s just absolutely hilarious how people jump at the opportunity to hate Hamilton and if there are none, they create opportunity!

    The best part about all of these people’s hatred is that it has literally no significance on the greatness he has achieved on the track and off it. He will still win races, he will still have his name in the record books, and he will still fight for social causes! One can only hope people will grow up, even if they should have been grown up decades ago!

    1. I know right, all he is answering to the question is that the setup went wrong and they (all together) have to figure out what happened and improve.

      To be fair it’s also the overly suggestive way the article is presenting the quotes by literally stating that Hamilton is blaming the team.

      Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said he wasn’t surprised by Hamilton’s criticism of the team’s approach.

      When the actual quotes from either Wolff or Hamilton say nothing of the sort.

    2. Get over yourself
      Senna, Schumacher, Vettel went through the same thing only social media wasn’t as widely used as today
      Quit the whining this is banter

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