Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin believes that Fernando Alonso ultimately prevented Sir Lewis Hamilton from challenging George Russell and Lando Norris at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton was denied a final run in qualifying last weekend when a combination of Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Alonso caused a red flag, and the seven-time champion had only set a lap good enough for eighth.
Hamilton found himself battling away with the other Alpine of Esteban Ocon after his stop, and Frenchman ended up with a five-second penalty when they made contact at Turn One.
Following a red flag after a crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher, the Mercedes driver was again staring at the back of Alonso’s car, and the Spaniard was lapping at a significantly slower pace as he tried to make Mediums go to the end of the race.
The 37-year-old eventually had to back off as he failed to find a way past, and Alonso sped up and even had the fastest lap at one point as he tried to give Ocon the gap to mitigate his penalty.
It all meant that Russell and Norris had escaped half a minute up the road, and being stuck behind Alonso, as Shovlin explains, precluded Hamilton from showing the true pace of the Mercedes.
“He didn’t get many laps to show what he could actually do but the car was working reasonably well,” he said in Mercedes’ YouTube debrief.
“We haven’t got the pace there to compete with the Ferrari and the Red Bull but certainly he would have been in amongst that battle with George and Lando.”
The Briton divulges that the team never had a gap to drop Hamilton into with a pit stop, and overtaking, typically of Monaco, was near impossible.
“Well, it was all about what was happening behind Lewis on track, and he never actually had a clear stop window,” added Shovlin.
“If he had a clear window, we would have definitely done it earlier and we knew that the intermediate would perform well.
“The question is, can a car on intermediates overtake a car on wets? And we saw with Lewis, when we eventually went for that, with Esteban it was a very difficult thing to do.”
Russell, meanwhile, beat Norris to P5 after getting an undercut on his compatriot, and the 22-year-old pitted late on to get the fastest lap of the race.