Lewis Hamilton has secured Mercedes fifth win of the season holding off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen intense closing laps at the Monaco Grand Prix. The five-times champion held off a charging Red Bull to take victory despite his tyres struggling to hang on.
The two made contact after Verstappen closed the gap in the latter part of the race. However, the Dutchman was demoted to fourth following a five-second penalty, after the team released him into the traffic in the pit lane.
It was a tense closing stages, the five-time champion complaining that his tyres were going every lap as Verstappen got ever closer. The Dutchman saw his chance to win on the track, despite it looking unlikely he would hang on to it, he dived down the outside at the Harbour Chicane making contact but was unable to hang on to the position. The stewards deciding not to punish him or Hamilton for the contact.
Sebastian Vettel finished second and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas third, with Verstappen’s penalty, dropped him back to fourth. The German’s second place ended five one-two finishes for Mercedes representing his first second place since November.
Hamilton looked in good form throughout leading from the start when the safety car came out in the early stages after Charles Leclerc hit the wall leading to his retirement.
The five-times champion told BBC News “I don’t know how satisfied I am, it was so intense – maybe the most intense I’ve ever had. I’m not mad about it – that’s how racing should be.”
“But it’s difficult when you’re out there for so long on your own there is nothing Bono or anyone can say to make it better – it’s all down to me.”
Hamilton’s win allows him to extended his championship lead over Bottas to seventeen points.
Leclerc had made a good start, gaining a lot of ground early on, but made an error when trying to repeat a move he had done on Romain Grosjean when trying to pass Nico Hulkenberg for eleventh.
He told BBC News, “It was difficult and it was as I said before the race, I had to take a lot of risks but unfortunately it ended in disaster but that’s Monaco when you start 15th which isn’t our real pace position.”
The Monacan spun the Ferrari hitting the wall, picking up a puncture and scattered a large amount of debris as the rubber fell apart around the rest of the lap.
Mercedes reacted bringing both drivers in, but Verstappen was wrongly released into the path of Bottas. They kissed and Bottas’s wheel rim caught the wall causing a slow puncture, but with the safety car still deployed he only dropped behind Vettel to fourth, and eventually, Verstappen was awarded a five-second penalty for the unsafe release.
Speaking about the incident with Hamilton, he said “I knew he had softer tyres he was taking it easy after the pitstop so I was pushing him and started attacking him all the time, but out of the tunnel you can’t get close enough so I tried to put the pressure on.”
Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly was fifth, scoring his best result of the season, and with a comfortable gap, he pitted late coming in to change tyres and go after fastest lap.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz finished sixth ahead of both the Toro Rosso’s of Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon, all three taking a gamble under the safety car not to stop. That gave them the advantage over the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who didn’t stop under the safety car finishing tenth.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was eleventh and the last driver on the lead lap ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was fourteenth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.
George Russell made sure that Williams weren’t last of the runners in fifteenth ahead of the Racing Point of Lance Stroll.
The race saw very little in terms of retirements or collisions on track.
The only stand out the incident was at Rascasse when Alfa’s Antonio Giovinazzi hit the Williams of Robert Kubica. That sent the Pole into a spin causing a brief traffic jam, but both managed to re-join, finishing last of the runners in nineteenth and eighteenth respectively.
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