Rosberg takes Monaco hat-trick after Mercedes gaffe

Sun May 24, 2015 12:04pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - Germany's Nico Rosberg celebrated a surprise hat-trick of Monaco Grand Prix victories on Sunday after Mercedes blew championship-leading team mate Lewis Hamilton's chances with a needless pitstop.

The result, with double Formula One world champion Hamilton finishing third just when victory seemed assured, slashed Hamilton's overall lead to 10 points after six of the season's 19 races.

The Briton had led comfortably from pole position until he pitted for fresh tires when the safety car was deployed with 14 laps to go.

"I've lost the race haven't I?" the disconsolate Briton enquired over the team radio after rejoining in third place behind Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, neither of whom pitted. "What's happened guys?"

Afterwards, with the enormity of what had happened still sinking in, the stunned Mercedes driver told reporters: "I can't really explain the way I feel at the moment. I won't even attempt to."

While he did not blame the team, Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff indicated the call had come from the pitwall: "We thought the gap was different to what it was. A complete misjudgment, I am so sorry," he told the BBC.

"We screwed it up for him."

The safety car had been deployed after Dutch 17-year-old Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso smashed into the back of Romain Grosjean's Lotus and crashed heavily into the barriers while fighting for a possible 10th place.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany reacts after winning the Monaco F1 Grand Prix in Monaco May 24, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Pratta