Valtteri Bottas was running in P2, close to race leader Max Verstappen, when he was called in for a tyre change. Unbelievably, one of Mercedes’ mechanics wasn’t able to take the right-front wheel off, which led to the Finn having to retire from the race.
Toto Wolff confirms the problem occurred due to a wheel nut issue.
“Valtteri stopped a bit too early,” the Austrian told Auto, Motor und Sport after the race.
“This meant the mechanic had to use the wrench at an angle. The awkward angle damaged the wheel nut and we couldn’t get the tyre off.”
Later Wolff went into further detail, and refused to put the blame on anybody in particular.
“You give me a screwdriver and I will do exactly the same thing,” he said.
“There are always many factors that contribute to such a catastrophic failure and in that case, we need to review the design and the material of the wheel nut because the mechanics that operate the wheel nuts need to do it in a way that you can’t machine it off.
“As a matter of fact, the mechanic that did that is one of the best and one of the fittest in terms of pit stop speed the team has.
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“There are always things that come together, it is never someone’s fault, it is always a multitude of… it is multifaceted.”
But it was not the only problem Mercedes faced in Monaco. Lewis Hamilton also had a bad race and finished seventh, due to a failed strategy, among other things.
“Monaco has never been a happy place for us,” Wolff continued.
“We have had outliers, 2019 I believe, in terms of pace. But it is similar to the kind of events we have had in Singapore in the past.
“It is sort of engrained in our DNA where the car goes well or not and the answers are not always easy to find. There seems to be an inherent DNA in the car.
“In our case, we know where we need to optimise the car, how we need to get the tyres in a better window and you are building a car for 23 races, there will be outliers in both directions where you will underperform.
“Monaco is definitely an outlier where you need a totally different car than to, let’s say, the average tracks,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.