Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes still can't afford to neglect work on tyres at Monaco GP
2008 winner insists team can't focus exclusively on grid position
By James Galloway Twitter: @SkyGalloway. Last Updated: 17/05/13 4:29pm
Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes cannot afford to lose focus on improving their race performance for the Monaco GP, even though the unique nature of the street circuit may not expose the W04's frailties to the same extent as recent grands prix.
Although Mercedes' glaring problems with tyre degradation over a full race distance were again emphasised by Hamilton's depressing slump from the frontrow to 12th place last Sunday in Spain, the race victor Fernando Alonso nonetheless immediately installed the Silver Arrows as favourites for Monte Carlo owing to the fact that the team have claimed the last three pole positions and overtaking is notoriously difficult around the circuit's narrow confines.
Hamilton, who won the Monaco GP in 2008 but not finished higher than fifth since, admits he is looking forward to the blue riband weekend but insisted that while grid position was indeed key, the Brackley outfit couldn't afford to neglect their race pace.
"Whilst there hasn't been a lot of time since Barcelona, we've been working hard to put the disappointment of the last race behind us and focus on the opportunities ahead," he said in the team's preview.
"Monaco is one of my favourite races of the year and I love driving the streets there. Perhaps more than at many other tracks, qualifying and getting the best possible track position is crucial in Monaco, but we have to keep our focus on Sunday as well and keep working to improve our race pace.
"Everyone is working really hard and I know we can get there. We just need to keep motivated and work it out together."
Those sentiments have been echoed by Mercedes' motorsport director Toto Wolff who made clear that Mercedes simply wouldn't finish towards the front if they struggle with tyre wear to the extent they did in Barcelona, when polesitter Nico Rosberg also lost significant ground - the German slipping from first to sixth at the flag.
"The narrow streets will give our drivers the perfect opportunity to display their talents and, historically, the team's cars have performed strongly there in terms of pure speed," Wolff said.
"However, it is clear to everybody in the team that, while we have a strong car right now, we are not able to use that performance properly on Sunday afternoon.
"Although overtaking in Monaco is difficult, we cannot afford to be complacent in terms of tyre management and we will need to do significantly better than we managed in Barcelona in order to score a strong result.
"We have only scored points with one of our cars at the past three races and this is something we must improve quickly, beginning next weekend in Monte-Carlo."