Mercedes’ string of one-two finishes may have come to an end, but they managed to hold off Max Verstappen and his team at the Monaco GP.
The drama unfolded in nail-biting fashion with Britain’s Hamilton complaining that his softer tyres would not last until the finish line. Not to forget that he and closest contender Verstappen came into contact near the end of the race and the latter received a five-second penalty for an unsafe pull out of a pit stop. However, Hamilton held on to the lead and through meticulous vehicle management was able to hold off the rest of the pack.
A Tribute To Niki Lauder
Lewis Hamilton sported the name of Niki Lauda on his helmet and dedicated the victory to the late Mercedes legend as he crossed the finish line. The Austrian died on the 20th May after a decorated career as a formula-one driver. He remained in the sport as a non-executive director of Mercedes and was a mentor to the drivers of today. Naturally, he played a huge influence on the success of Mercedes drivers like Hamilton and they repaid him in a dogged fashion somewhat similar to Lauda’s own driving style.
What Caused Hamilton to Struggle?
The problem came down to tyre choices by the Mercedes team. While nearest rivals such as Vettel and Verstappen were using hard tyres, the Mercedes boys were using medium tyres. Hamilton’s teammate, Bottas, did switch his tyres during a pit stop but Hamilton persevered. The reason why these softer tyres were an issue is because they are designed to last around 50 laps. Comparing this to the 66-lap Monaco GP, it is easy to spot the issue.
Princess Consoles Local Boy
Another story at the Monaco GP that caught the eye was the story of 21-year-old Charles Leclerc. The local driver used to catch his school bus on the narrow streets of Monaco where the race was set. Unfortunately, he started the race in 16th position on the grid and never made headway in getting to a podium position. To make matters worse, a minor collision with Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg’s vehicle destroyed a tyre and he could not finish the race – the only driver not to pass the finish line.
If the race panned out differently, he would have been the first driver from Monaco to earn a podium finish since 1950. Instead, he had to settle for a consolation hug from Monaco princess Charlene of Monaco.
Next up is the Canadian GP starting on 6th June. Followed by the French GP and the Austrian GP where there will be more mentions of Niki Lauder and his fantastic career. Following these events, the drivers will remain in Europe and head to Britain, German, Italy and Hungary.