MONACO GRAND PRIX SAFETY CAR
Nigel Mansell and Jim Clark knew what it was like not to win at Monaco, to take the pole at Monaco, to lead and then to run into serious trouble. Lewis Hamilton has not felt that agony. His win in 2008 will always be a palliative for the traumas that would follow.
Until 2015. If you’d drawn up a list before that year’s race under the heading of “reasons why Lewis Hamilton will again not win at Monaco” you would never in a million years have considered “screw-up on the radio; bad call for tyres” as an option.
Yet that is what happened. Quickest in two of the three practice sessions and on pole for the first time at Monaco – by the margin of nearly half a second – Lewis finally looked to be in with a chance.
Until the advent of the Safety Car. Lap 65, with only 13 to go. On the big TV screen near the swimming pool, Lewis thought he saw the Mercedes crew in the pitlane, ready for Nico (he assumed); in the temporary office above the pits, the
Mercedes strategy team calculated the time. Yes, came the answer: there was just enough room for Lewis to stop for fresh tyres without losing the lead.
Wrong on both counts. Lewis was a victim of Too Much Information. He uniquely stopped for tyres and thus lost not only the win to Nico but also second place to Seb Vettel. Had there been no TV screens, you mused – had there been no radio – then Lewis would have won the Monaco GP.
The latest making of Lewis came even as the strains of Das Deutschlandlied filled the Royal Box. The Mercedes team immediately admitted their error; Lewis immediately focused on Canada.
His Montréal victory, two weeks later, on the back of what happened in the Principality, was perhaps his best of the year, and epitomises the famous quote by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”