Yes it would Lewis. The 5 Time World Champion dedicated his hard-fought Monaco victory to late friend and F1 legend, Niki Lauda, who passed away the Tuesday before the race. Fighting in the spirit of Lauda, Hamilton defended superbly in order to claim his 3rd win round the circuit and to extend his championship lead.
Crucial point of the race?
Unlike most of the races so far this year, Monaco, arguably, had two crucial points throughout the race. The first was the round of pit-stops which involved Max Verstappen making contact with Valterri Bottas and the second was the race-long defence by Lewis Hamilton.
The Safety Car and the round of pit-stops changed the race. When the Safety Car was called, Hamilton and Bottas were in 1st and 2nd and running close together. In order for Mercedes to pit both drivers and have time between them, Bottas allowed enough time for Hamilton to come in and change tyres. When he pitted, he had Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel pitting at the same time. Monaco has one of the smallest and compact pit-lanes on the F1 calendar and when Red Bull released Verstappen into the path of Bottas, contact was made. The stewards rewarded Verstappen a 5 second time penalty, maybe a bit too lenient, but that in the end cost the Dutchman a 2nd place finish.
Unlike the rest, Mercedes decided to put Hamilton on the Medium tyre rather than the more durable Hard tyre. Verstappen, Vettel and Bottas were now on the Hard tyre and would be more comfortable on this tyre towards the end of the race. Hamilton, however, battled on and despite many radio rants to Mercedes, the reigning champion played to the strengths of the W10 and his driving expertise to extend his championship lead by 17 points.
Frustrations, still at Ferrari
If you told me that 6 races into the F1 2019 Season that Ferrari were still making mistakes, I’d be in two minds about how factual that statement is. The oldest, most successful and most influential team in the paddock are still making rookie errors, clearly something is going wrong at Maranello.
It all started on Saturday in Qualifying. Charles Leclerc had set his best lap time but due to track evolution and other drivers improving, the home-favourite was slipping down the order and in danger of missing out on the rest of Qualifying. Despite Leclerc asking to go back out on track, Ferrari thought he would be safe to progress to Q2. He wasn’t. In fact, it was his team-mate, Vettel, who knocked Leclerc into the drop-zone and out of Qualifying. Monaco is notorious for limited overtaking opportunities and although Leclerc pulled off some amazing moves, most notably his stunning overtake on Romain Grosjean into Rascasse, his race was severely hampered by Saturday’s events.
Vettel’s 2nd place, the highest finish for a Ferrari driver so far this season, was nothing to celebrate. The 4 Time World Champion, despite being “buoyed” by the podium, clearly highlighted the issues that Ferrari still face. The main problem has been getting the tyres into the right operating window. The German reckons that if the Scuderia solve this main issue, they’ll be right in the fight with Mercedes. Can Ferrari get on-top of their tyres issues before the championship is well-out of reach?
Strategy is just a roll of the dice isn’t it?
In Monaco and in racing in general, you have to gamble. Sometimes, gambling is great and the rewards can be massive but get it wrong, you can only think back and wonder. In this instance, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen got it wrong. The pair were closely matched on track with Ricciardo in 5th and Magnussen in 6th. So when the Safety Car was called out for debris left by Leclerc’s puncture, they thought this was the perfect time to make their only pit-stop. As it turned out it, the pair were stuck in traffic right after their pit-stops which lost them huge amounts of time and instead of potentially finishing 5th and 6th, they finished 9th and 14th.
Gamble correctly and you can not only receive the rewards but you can feel the satisfaction by making the right choice. By not pitting under the Safety Car, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr, Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon and Romain Grosjean all benefited by making their Pirelli tyres last longer. Grosjean went a staggering 49 laps before making his only pit-stop. These drivers pace, having not pitted compared to Ricciardo’s and Magnussen’s, was much quicker in that they effectively jumped them to the lofty from 5th to 10th.
1.Lewis Hamilton 137pts 2.Valterri Bottas 120pts 3.Sebastian Vettel 82pts 4.Max Verstappen 78pts 5.Charles Leclerc 57pts 6.Pierre Gasly 32pts 7.Carlos Sainz Jr 18pts 8.Kevin Magnussen 14pts 9.Sergio Perez 13pts 10.Kimi Raikkonen 13pts
1.Mercedes 257pts 2.Ferrari 139pts 3.Red Bull Racing Honda 110pts 4.McLaren Renault 30pts 5.Racing Point BTW Mercedes 17pts 6.Haas Ferrari 16pts 7.Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 16pts 8.Renault 14pts 9.Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 13pts 10.Williams Mercedes 0pts
Round 7 of the F1 2019 Season takes place on the 9th of June in Montreal for the Canadian GP