Hamilton wins Monaco Grand Prix in the spirit of Lauda - GulfToday

Hamilton wins Monaco Grand Prix in the spirit of Lauda

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (left) receives the trophy from Prince Albert II of Monaco on the podium after winning the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

MONACO: Lewis Hamilton withstood lap after lap of intense pressure on worn tyres to win a nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday in a triumphant tribute to his Mercedes team’s late Formula One great Niki Lauda.

The Briton, who now has 77 career wins and a 17-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas in the championship, had called for a miracle as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen filled his car’s mirrors, with the pair banging wheels late on.

The five times world champion held on, taking the chequered flag for his fourth win of the season and third in Monaco, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel the runner-up after a time penalty demoted Verstappen to fourth. Bottas, who was involved in a pitlane collision with Verstappen on lap 12 that led to the Dutch driver’s penalty for an unsafe release, finished third.

“That was definitely the hardest race I’ve had,” said Hamilton, before cooling down with a plunge into the trackside swimming pool in his sweat-covered overalls after the podium ceremonies.

“I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki.

“I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off. I was trying to stay focussed and make him proud,” he added of the Austrian, a triple world champion and non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team who died on Monday, aged 70.

Mercedes, who extended their winning run to six, lead Ferrari by 118 points in the constructors’ standings. Hamilton has 137 to 120 for Bottas, with Vettel moving up to third place on 82.

Hamilton and Verstappen finished under investigation after they banged wheels going into the chicane at the tunnel exit two laps from the end when the Dutchman tried to pass, but stewards took no further action. The Briton was forced to cut the corner but kept his advantage.

Hamilton, who started on pole, had earlier had some anxious and angry exchanges with his team who admitted they had made a mistake with their tyre selection.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking by keeping these tyres on, man. You need to hope for a miracle,” Hamilton said, with Verstappen on longer-lasting hard rubber and doing all he could to pass.

The ‘miracle’, with Hamilton wearing a retro red helmet sporting Lauda’s name and colours while the car carried a variety of tributes, duly happened as if by the late champion’s celestial command.

“That was an incredible drive. There was no one else who could have done that,” Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles told him over the radio.

Reuters

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