With only 15 laps to go and a 20-second lead, there was no way Lewis Hamilton could lose the Monaco Grand Prix. But something happened on Hamilton’s way to winning the most prestigious Formula 1 race. After a crash on the 63rd lap, Hamilton’s crew felt there was time for a quick pit stop. Problem is, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, the number two and three drivers behind Hamilton, didn’t stop. Neither of their crews felt they had a second to give.
The next scene was dramatic. Hamilton pulled out of his pit stop, only to see Rosberg and Vettel speed past him. With no room and no chance to pass, Hamilton came in third behind Rosberg and Vettel. During that time span, you can hear Hamilton radio his crew, “I’ve lost the race, haven’t I?”
It struck me that this event has lessons for us in business, well away from the Formula 1 world:
1. Don’t let up. Ever.
Your competitors aren’t taking it easy when the game is on the line. Should you? As good as you did today, you can do better.
2. Sometimes opportunities just aren’t.
It’s easy to see that the opportunity Hamilton’s team saw wasn’t an opportunity at all. It was a cul-de-sac that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
3. Work with what you have.
The Hamilton pit stop was a luxury, not a necessity. His tires, fuel and everything else were enough to finish the race without stopping. Rosberg and Vettel knew they couldn’t stop for anything if they had a prayer of winning. What they had was enough to finish, and Rosberg finished first.
4. Mistakes are the best teachers.
Nobody has analyzed Hamilton’s slip more than Hamilton and his team. They won’t make the mistake again. The pain of losing will fade. There are lots of F1 races between now and next year’s Monaco GP. The mistake you may make today will sting. But the pain will go and you’ll be the wiser.
5. Grace is most visible under pressure.
Kudos to Hamilton and his team for chalking up the error for what it was. He was gracious in defeat and gave the right public praise for Rosberg. In so doing, Hamilton kept his team together and lives to race another day. Move fast and move on.