F1: Hamilton holds off Verstappen to win in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton at Monaco

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Monaco Photo Credit: Andrew Locking [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

By Jamie Downes (@JamieDownes11)

Lewis Hamilton drove a superb defensive race to hold off Max Verstappen to take victory in an enthralling Monaco Grand Prix.

The Briton, on worn out tyres, barely kept Verstappen at bay, although a 5 second time penalty incurred for an unsafe pit release demoted the Red Bull driver to 4th place in the results.

This allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes to finish 2nd and 3rd.

Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz in the McLaren was the best of the rest, finishing 6th ahead of the Torro Rosso of Danii Kvyat.

Vettel’s teammate and Monaco hometown boy Charles Leclerc retired after damage from colliding with Nico Hulkenberg proved too severe to continue. The Ferrari driver had started 16th after a calamitous strategy mistake by Ferrari meant the Monegasque failed to progress beyond first qualifying on Saturday.

Although technically a lights-to-flag victory, Hamilton’s win in the principality was by no means plain sailing.

Danke Niki

During the week, the F1 community paid tribute to Niki Lauda. The legendary Austrian passed away on Monday, following a short illness.

Hamilton, who credited Lauda as one of the main reasons behind his move to Mercedes, paid tribute with the Halo of his Mercedes painted red, the colour of Ferrari and (then) McLaren, who Lauda won his world drivers’ titles with, as well as the colour of his signature baseball cap which the Austrian wore to hide the extent of his facial injuries.

Indeed, all of the drivers wore red caps before the race in Lauda’s honour.

More disappointment for Ferrari

Ferrari were again off the pace of Mercedes, in what is looking like becoming the theme of the 2019 World Driver’s Championship.

Vettel was only close to Hamilton owing to Verstappen’s penalty, and Leclerc retired after a collision with Hulkenberg severely damaged the floor of his SF90, resulting in a major reduction in race pace.

It is almost becoming a stuck record with how often it is said, but this level of professionalism and racecraft from a team hoping to challenge Mercedes is simply not good enough.

Hamilton in Senna’s footsteps

A strategic mistake from Mercedes meant Hamilton had to last almost the whole race distance on the medium compound tyres, which were not built to endure such punishment.

As such, during the closing stages of the race, Hamilton’s tyres were behaving more like blocks of rubber instead of sticky racing tyres. As such, Verstappen, on fresher tyres, was right behind the Mercedes man in the last few laps.

However, the Briton channelled shades of his hero, Ayrton Senna, to hold off Verstappen. In scenes similar to Senna’s ferocious defence of Nigel Mansell’s Williams in 1992, Hamilton weaved this way and that to ensure that Verstappen couldn’t get past.

The Canadian Grand Prix is in 2 weeks. With its long straights, it represents a chance for Ferrari to take the fight to Mercedes for the first time since Baku. Be sure to catch all the action from Montreal on Nerve.