Mercedes director of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin believes Lewis Hamilton's frustrating time behind Fernando Alonso cost him a chance of fighting for fifth at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The seven-time F1 champion had started behind the Alpine driver on the grid but unlike Alonso, Hamilton opted to switch to intermediates from extreme wet tyres and looked set to undercut his former team-mate.
But Mick Schumacher's crash at the swimming pool complex brought out the red flags, allowing Fernando Alonso to swap his extreme wets for slick tyres during the neutralised period and keep him ahead of the Mercedes.
In order to look after his tyres, Alonso considerably slowed his pace. At one point, he had all cars from eighth to 18th in a single line, lapping three seconds per lap slower than the top six.
On whether Hamilton would have fought team-mate George Russell and McLaren's Lando Norris for fifth had it not been for Alonso, Shovlin replied: “Almost certainly yes, the frustration with Lewis’ Monaco race was that he spent almost all of it in traffic.
"He didn’t get many laps to show what he could actually do but the car was working reasonably well.
"We haven’t got the pace there to compete with the Ferrari and the Red Bull but certainly he would have been in amongst that battle with George and Lando.”
Mercedes detail why Hamilton wasn't pitted earlier
Hamilton's swap to intermediates came relatively late compared to those who gambled early, with Pierre Gasly setting the fastest lap times after pitting on the first racing lap.
On why Mercedes did not stop Hamilton earlier, Shovlin explained: “Well, it was all about what was happening behind Lewis on track, and he never actually had a clear stop window.
"If he had a clear window, we would have definitely done it earlier and we knew that the intermediate would perform well.
"The question is, can a car on intermediates overtake a car on wets? And we saw with Lewis, when we eventually went for that, with Esteban [Ocon] it was a very difficult thing to do.”