Lewis Hamilton won the 77th edition of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix and dedicated the triumph to his boss Niki Lauda, who died last Monday. In a nerve-racking race, the Briton won ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, which ultimately meant he could extend his lead in the World Championship.
A race for the history books
Anyone who follows my Formula 1 coverage here on the blog or even sees each race live, knows that in the past few weeks I have always been very critical of the racing circus. The silver arrows appeared too dominant. Too boring the races. Hardly overtaking maneuvers and finally the certainty that the 2019 Grand Prix already seemed decided after the first two combinations of turns.
Not so in Monaco. What hit the riders here on the Monegasque tarmac was a memorable race with a lot of action and a Lewis Hamilton who made a ride that reminded me of the 1992 legendary duel between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell.
That it could even come so far, we have to thank the big unlucky person this weekend. Ironically at his home race Charles Leclerc started a rear-hunt from the very back, which then found a sudden end in the 9th round in Rascasse. When trying to overtake Nico Hulkenberg, his Ferrari touched the right rear tire of the guardrail, turned it and ripped in the following round eventually the tire apart. The resulting debris called the safety car on the plan and thus came the top closed in the 11th round to the pits.
Our team once again planned one of the famous "Double Stacks" which they perfected in China a few weeks ago. So that really enough time for the mechanics remained, the so far runner-up Bottas left a little more space to Lewis, behind Verstappen and Vettel, which hung him almost in the gears.
And that was the problem. Verstappen came through slightly faster and the Red Bull team dismissed him just before Valtteri. Too short! The two touched, resulting in a puncture and rupture of the rim on the Silver Arrow. Valtteri therefore had to come back to the pits and came back on the track as 4th.
But that was the chance of victory for Verstappen! The race director grumbled him a 5 second penalty for an "unsafe release" on.
Crazy duel over 60 laps
What was going to happen after the race was re-released over the next 60 laps was one of those big Formula 1 moments. Lewis was packed on medium, actually should only hold a good 50 rounds. Verstappen, Vettel and Bottas went back to the GP on the hard tires and seemed to have put on the superior rubber.
Friends of well-groomed motorsport, I'm not exaggerating when I say that I seldom see a driver navigate so gently through the promenades of the Principality. After only 30 laps, the tires looked like the leading silver arrow as if they were getting smallpox. Meanwhile, Lewis hung in a tour on the radio and complained to Peter Bonnington, his racing engineer. "I do not know what you think" was certainly one of the more harmless announcements.
Either way … Hamilton drove the number home and how! Max hung in the back of his Red Bull for over 60 laps. Distance? Always under a second! That was really amazing and I can only recommend that you at least watch the highlights!
I think I will not say too much when I say that with 2 laps to go, Verstappen's final attack was warded off. And extremely close! Exit Tunnel braked Verstappen next to Lewis and drove the Silver Arrow in the side. But both could go on and thus Hamilton won this memorable race!
Is it exaggerated to say that this was a very special race? I even go so far and claim that there was a similarly special mood as in the 94 issue. At that time, the Formula 1 family had to cope with the loss of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. This time the race took place without Niki Laud!
The man who made the biggest comeback in the history of the sport can not be there anymore. But who looked exactly there yesterday could see that Niki was omnipresent.
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