Monaco: Following an extraordinary tactical error by his Mercedes team that cost him victory at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton responded with maturity, choosing not to play the blame game.
The two-time world champion and current leader in the driver's points table was on course for a well-deserved and comfortable triumph ahead of his team-mate and nearest rival Nico Rosberg until, following a Safety Car intervention with 15 laps remaining, Mercedes called him in to pit for new tyres.
As Hamilton re-emerged on to the track, Rosberg went past. The Briton came out alongside Sebastian Vettel, who was marginally ahead as they crossed the safety-car line. "We've lost this, haven't we?" Hamilton said disbelievingly over the radio, realising the enormity of the team's error.
It was an unexpected decision that transformed Hamilton's luxurious 21-second lead into a third-place finish, costing him victory and a clear 27-point lead in the title race. Rosberg won and now trails Hamilton by 10 points after six races this year.
In previous years, Hamilton may have reacted with greater emotion, but he was calm and collected under intense media pressure. "I can't really express the way I'm feeling at the moment so I won't attempt to," he said. "To be honest, it all happened so fast I don't remember. ... You rely on your team."
The team issued a series of public apologies for what they described as an unacceptable mistake. "To all our disappointed fans out there, we feel your pain," Mercedes said on Twitter. "We got it wrong today and that's the simple fact. We will grow stronger from this."
"It was a mistake, a big mistake," said Mercedes team chief Niki Lauda. "No arguments. It was wrong. I don't know why..."
Understandably downcast, Hamilton added that he believed his rivals behind him on the track had pitted. He assumed, he said, that he had to 'cover off' the threat that they would be on fresher tyres when the race resumed.
"I saw a screen and it looked like the team was out [in the pits]," he added. "It looked like Nico had pitted. I thought the guys behind were pitting, so when the team said 'stay out', I said the tyres were dropping temperature and I was assuming that these guys would be on options and I would be on the harder tyre."
"So, they said to pit... I did that and came in thinking, with full confidence, the others had done the same...."
His confidence was misplaced. No one else, among the leaders, had pitted and, once again, he had failed to land an elusive second Monaco victory to add to his sole triumph in 2008.
"This race has been so close to my heart for many years," he added. "It was a great feeling in the race, I had so much pace. I didn't have to push too much. I could have doubled the lead, if I needed."
"I'm grateful for that pace and I'll come back to fight another day... At this moment, I can't think of anything else."