Lewis Hamilton’s “spectacular” leadership and maturity in the wake of the Monaco debacle has thoroughly impressed Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff.
Sunday brought with it an excruciating end to a memorable week for the Formula One world champion, having followed up his lucrative new deal with the Silver Arrows by gaining his first ever pole in the principality.
It was a position Hamilton looked set to turn into a dominant, lights-to-flag victory, only for a remarkable miscalculation by his team to cost him on the streets of Monte Carlo.
The decision to pit under the safety car handed team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg a gift-wrapped win, followed home by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and a clearly distraught Hamilton.
Unlike recent years, though, the British driver kept his counsel after the race and, with the few things he did say, remained positive – a development which impressed Wolff.
“Compare the Lewis from a year ago in a difficult Monaco race to the Lewis we have seen today,” the Mercedes chief said.
“Losing a race which he owned, which he controlled and came out of it with a maturity and as a leader in a spectacular way which makes me very happy, to see him coming out strong.
“I think we have all grown into a team. We have brought the team to where we are today all together, despite the ups and downs and difficult moments, and he’s very much part of that team and part of the decision-making of the team.
“He motivates and inspires so many people within the team in the same way he is inspired by lots of the clever boys out there. He’s just an integral part.”
Wolff apologised to Hamilton straight after the race for the mistake, going up to him during the media scrum, and is not expecting any pent-up frustration to boil over next time out in Canada.
“No, when you see him today and the way he has matured or grown I see no risk whatsoever,” he said.
“He is going to stay with us for the next four years. We are in this together.
“He processes things much quicker now. I haven’t known him as long as some people, but from what I have seen before it was difficult to overcome difficult days.
“Now it only takes a couple of hours or maybe after such a very, very bitter day it takes days, but it will have all disappeared emotionally by Montreal.”
As part of the moving-on process, Mercedes are working hard to weed out the “gremlin” in their data tools.
Wolff admits that let Hamilton down in Monaco, although the Mercedes boss was quick to defend the strategy team.
“We had a debrief with everybody here, with those in Brackley and Brixworth,” Wolff said about the post-race investigation. “Probably 100 people discussed it in overview.
“We will get together on Tuesday morning to analyse it and by then we will know where we had a gremlin in the system.
“Without having analysed it properly yet, what happened is we had a virtual safety car, switching into a safety car.
“Lewis coming running into it for the last couple of corners. The system showing us a clear possibility of a free stop and the system was wrong by a couple of seconds.
“Normally you go for these stops. In this case, Lewis’ comment about the tyres being dead added to the picture and then we pitted.
“In hindsight, if you look at it from a common sense standpoint there is a very different logic.”