MONACO, Monaco, May 29 -Lewis Hamilton believes the Monaco GP showed Ferrari are prioritising Sebastian Vettel over Kimi Raikkonen in the battle for the F1 2017 world title.
Vettel increased his championship lead over Hamilton to 25 points – the equivalent of one race victory – with a third win of the season in Monaco after controversially jumping Raikkonen through the sole pit stops.
After starting 13th, Hamilton recovered to seventh place.
Vettel has denied there was anything amiss with Ferrari’s decision to pit Raikkonen first, although the Finn was noticeably downbeat after finishing in second place.
Hamilton told Sky Sports at the Spanish GP he expected Ferrari to employ a team hierarchy in his battle with Vettel for the Drivers’ Championship and, after seeing how the battle at the front played out in Monaco, he reckons they are now clearly behind Vettel.
“It’s clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their number one driver,” Hamilton told reporters.
“So they are going to be pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will maximise on all of his weekends.”On strategy that just doesn’t happen – the leading car, it’s very hard for him to get jumped by the second car unless the team decide to favour the other car. That’s very clear.”
Vettel denies Ferrari used team orders in Monaco
However, echoing the post-race views of his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner, Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff believes Ferrari’s pitwall could not have known before pitting Raikkonen that the ‘overcut’ would prove so powerful for Vettel.
“They are finally where we were back in the day where you finish one and two and you have to explain why the right guy won!” joked Wolff.
“First of all they deserved to be there, they had the quickest car out there. So the team result, the one-two, is good and congratulations from our side.
“I think we need to give them credit. It wasn’t clear how the tyre would perform. They needed to pit one of the two drivers and put him on the supersoft and how it all panned out, the supersoft was not quick enough and Sebastian was able to pull out some stunning laps on the used ultrasoft and that gave him the advantage over Kimi.
“I don’t think they saw that coming, but at the end of the day it’s the right result for the team and for the Drivers’ Championship. But I don’t think it was orchestrated.”
With leads in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships one third of the way through the season, Ferrari are beginning to look increasingly formidable in their attempt to win a first world title in nine years.
Hamilton, who struggled with tyre temperatures throughout the Monaco weekend, says Mercedes need to work hard to catch up and make their W08 more consistent.
Hamilton leaves Monaco in upbeat mood
“We’ve definitely got to improve the understanding of the car we have and see if we can do a better job,” he added. “I’ll go to the factory this week. We’re under no illusion that we are not perfect and we have still got areas to improve on.
“I still believe we can win this thing. 25 points is a long way away – it was hard to get just six points [after Spain] in firing range. But bit by bit we’ll try and chip away at it.”
-By Sky Sports-