Lewis Hamilton said that a wrong strategy choice was responsible for him qualifying down in seventh place for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver had been fastest in both Q1 and Q2, but only planned a single run at the end of Q3 with super-soft tires and was one of the drivers caught on a flying lap when Sergio Perez's heavy crash brought out the red flags with just over two minutes to go.
In a bid to get a good track position once the green flags waved again, Hamilton left his garage early and queued in the pitlane, causing his tyres to lose temperature and leaving him with cold tires and brakes and an understeering car. However, he does not believe that this was the main reason behind his worst qualifying performance since Japan last year.
"It wasn't the waiting in the pitlane, it was the strategy [we took]," said the 2008 World Champion. I think we've been going well all weekend and I had the pace for pole; I'm certain about that.
"Engineers advise that we should do one [run] at the end of Q3 and I didn't contest it. You always have to take a balanced view with the engineers. I definitely didn't take into account – and I know they didn't either – that in Monaco you can't take risks in leaving it [your lap] right to the end. You have to get out and get in a banker, like everyone else did. With racing experience you'd assume that most people would have that, but I guess other things were going on and we didn't have that. It's my worst Q3 for a long time."
Hamilton said that Sunday's race would be a case of "damage limitation," for him.
"You can't overtake here, so I'll just get whatever I can," he added. "I won't give up, but there's no chance to win realistically. Sebastian [Vettel] will walk away with it, but that's racing."