Lewis Hamilton lead from pole position to win the Monaco Grand Prix, despite enormous pressure from Max Verstappen towards the end of the race.
The reigning World Champion had to nurse his medium compound tyres for a total of sixty-seven laps but his defensive tactics paid off in the end to see the Brit take his fourth win of the season.
Hamilton had led from the start, ahead of Mercedes AMG Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas and, whilst the leaders settled into their rhythm, home-hero Charles Leclerc had a disastrous race from fifteenth. The Monegasque made a successful move on Romain Grosjean into La Rascasse on Lap seven.
He tried replicating the manoeuvre on Nico Hülkenberg on the next lap, but his right-rear made contact with the barrier. That left Leclerc with a puncture and terminal damage to his floor as he was running back to the pits.
The leftover debris meant an early call for the Safety Car, and the top four pitted before they caught up to it. Hamilton’s stop was excellent but an unsafe release from Red Bull Racing had left Verstappen touching Bottas in the pit lane, which had forced the Mercedes AMG Motorsport driver pitting the following lap to repair damage. This promoted Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel into third position with Bottas slotting back into fourth.
The order at the restart on Lap fourteen was Hamilton in front of Verstappen, Vettel and Bottas. The stewards meanwhile had investigated the pit lane incident and awarded the Dutchman a five-second time penalty for an unsafe pit release. Shortly after, Leclerc returned to the pits to retire from his home race for the second year running.
At the back of the field on Lap fifteen, Alfa Romeo Racing‘s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams Racing‘s Robert Kubica came together at La Rascasse, causing a brief gridlock. The stewards took action for the incident and the Italian was deemed responsible and was given a ten-second time penalty.
The top four remained unchanged but whilst Hamilton was struggling to maintain grip on his medium compound tyres, Verstappen was continuing to stay with him on his hard set. With three laps to go, he had made a lunge down the inside of the championship leader, into the Nouvelle chicane, but there was no room for the cars to make it through side by side, forcing the Brit to miss the chicane after the pair had touched.
At the end of the race, Verstappen dropped to fourth with his penalty, promoting Vettel and Bottas to second and third, which means Mercedes fail to finish one and two for the first time this year. Pierre Gasly crossed the line in fifth, just under ten seconds behind the winner and setting the fastest lap of the race earns him an extra point. The Frenchman made the gamble to pit a second time for the soft compound tyres in order to push for that bonus point and the pace advantage to those in front saw him close down the top four, ending less than ten seconds away from Hamilton.
Carlos Sainz Jr. achieved his best result of the season with sixth for McLaren F1 Team, while the two Scuderia Toro Rosso cars of Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon produced superb drives to seventh and eighth. For Kvyat it was his best result ever whilst driving for Toro Rosso (he did achieve better results during his time with Red Bull), while for Albon, it was his third top ten result in just six Grand Prix starts.
Last year’s winner Daniel Ricciardo was elevated to ninth for Renault F1 Team at the expense of Romain Grosjean, who was handed a five-second time penalty for crossing the pit lane exit after his pit stop. Grosjean was the final driver who started on the soft compound to make his mandatory pit stop, lasting to lap fifty-one on Pirelli‘s softest rubber, and it enabled him to run and finish inside the points having started down in thirteenth. Ricciardo made good gains in the closing laps to ensure he finished within five seconds of the Haas F1 Team racer, edging his rival by 0.140 seconds!
Ricciardo had been running as high as fifth early on but the gamble to pit when the safety car was deployed backfired on him (as well as a few others running towards the front of the field) as he fell behind a number of drivers who had yet to stop, with some, such as Lando Norris and Kimi Räikkönen not having the pace of some of the others, which enabled Sainz, Kvyat, Albon and Grosjean jump ahead when they made their own stops.
Norris finished eleventh in the second McLaren ahead of Kevin Magnussen, but the Dane was another driver who fell foul of the stewards post-race. Sergio Pérez made a move on him for twelfth into the Nouvelle chicane in the second half of the race, however, the Dane took the shortcut across the run-off zone to defend the position from the Racing Point F1 Team driver and stewards decided post-race that he had gained an advantage to keep hold of it.
Inevitably, Magnussen received a five-second time penalty, dropping him two places in the final result to fourteenth behind Pérez and the second Renault of Nico Hülkenberg.
Hülkenberg himself was unfortunate with the pit stops, having made the gamble to make his first stop just prior to the safety car being deployed to clear the track of Leclerc’s debris, meaning that he fell behind the pack as others were able to pit and lose less time in doing so.
George Russell survived being caught up behind the incident between his team-mate Kubica and Giovinazzi to equal his best result of the season in fifteenth, finishing ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo’s Räikkönen, while the field was rounded out by Kubica and Giovinazzi.
Hamilton’s third career victory in Monte Carlo sees him extend his lead to seventeen points over second placed Bottas in the Drivers’ Championship after six rounds. In the Constructors’ Championship race, Mercedes have furthered their gap to to an outstanding one-hundred and eighteen points.
Monaco Grand Prix Race Result
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