F1: The 2015 Monte Carlo Grand Prix

For around 90% of the 78 most picturesque and popular laps on the F1 calendar, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton led without a worry in the world. Everyone knows how difficult it is to execute basic overtaking moves on this narrow street-track around the French harbour, so Hamilton’s position at the front largely went unchallenged by teammate Rosberg.

The Brit started on pole, drove around as if winning was his destiny, until Mercedes made the biggest boo-boo in recent F1 history.

The team asked Hamilton to quickly make a pit stop with the safety car out on lap 64, after 17-year old Max Verstappen’s attempts to overtake demolition-man Grosjean ended in mishap. They wanted Hamilton to change his tyres to the supersoft fresh ones—a pit stop that the other two frontrunners were about to take. But once they realized that Hamilton conceded his position for this logic-defying change, Rosberg’s team of engineers decided to keep him on track. He took over first with older tyres, while Ferrari’s Vettel took over second ahead of a livid Hamilton.

Despite the new fresh set of tyres, there was no way Hamilton was going to overtake Vettel. 

He tried, and even came wheel to wheel by the end, but it was too late. Third place was his in a race that he deserved to win. Instead, it was hometown boy and Monte Carlo’s darling Rosberg, who win his third race here in a row. This gave the German valuable points in the championship race, and puts him only 10 behind Hamilton and 18 ahead of Vettel. Team chairman Wolff declared how embarrassed he was by their gaffe, publicly apologizing to Hamilton after the race. The Brit was left with plenty of questions about a foolish strategic error, and denied a win that would have pretty much sealed his status as the favourite for this year’s title again.

Now he must put this behind him and begin again at the Canadian Grand Prix next week. That’s the hallmark of the two-time champion though, as he had done so time and again in his title-winning 2014 run.