Lewis Hamilton looked set for a comfortable victory in Monte Carlo before a poor tactical decision from his team
Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff has apologised to Lewis Hamilton for the miscalculation that cost him victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
An otherwise run-of-the-mill race on the streets of the principality came alive late on when Max Verstappen crashed his Toro Rosso.
It proved the defining moment as it led the safety car to be deployed for the first time in the race, first virtually and then a real car, and the bemusing decision for Hamilton to pit.
It was a horribly misjudged choice, with the Brit overtaken by both team-mate Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel as almost certain victory slipped out of his hands.
"What the hell happened there? That's exactly the right question and the simple answer is we got the math, the calculation, wrong," Mercedes chief Wolff said.
"We thought we had a gap which we didn't have when the safety car came out and Lewis was behind the safety car.
"The calculation was simply wrong, hence what happened."
Wolff refused to apportion the blame – "this was a team decision, we are all in this together" – and knows it looks a risky move from the outside.
"The decisions are being made jointly with a lot of information at the same time," Wolff said of the decision taken just 50 metres before the pit entry.
"Within a fraction of seconds, you need to make a call. We tried to get as much input as possible from the engineers, from the management, from the driver and then take a decision.
"In that case, the algorithm was wrong."
Hamilton cut an understandably gloomy figure after becoming just the second driver in the last 12 races to have started Monaco in pole and failed to win.
The Brit kept his counsel, though, and Wolff was impressed by the composed nature of his post-race interviews.
"We win and we lose together and that one goes on the team," he said. "I apologised and that is probably the only thing you can do.
"He is a great leader, a great driver and I am sure that he will understand that sometimes we make errors and this was such a situation.
"He was in the media scrum and I said 'apologies for that one'. It was all good between us."
Asked how Hamilton will cope with the disappointment, Wolff said: "He has such mental strength and he is on a roll.
"It must be very sore to lose that run because it was his to win. I have no doubt that he will recover as quickly as he always did."