Monaco GP: Lewis Hamilton extends title lead with nervy victory
Hamilton moves 17 points clear in standings but it was far from plain sailing; Verstappen battles Lewis, and pair make contact; Max's pit penalty means Vettel and Bottas complete podium; Leclerc retires
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/05/19 7:25pm
Lewis Hamilton hung on for a momentous yet nervy Monaco GP victory to extend his championship advantage after an epic Max Verstappen battle.
Hamilton, despite frequent frantic radio messages to his Mercedes team, made his tyres last for more than 60 laps and then kept a charging Verstappen at bay to win F1's famous showpiece for a third time.
Verstappen and Hamilton even made contact in the closing stages as the Red Bull driver attempted a move into the chicane.
- Hamilton-Verstappen clash, escape penalty
- Mercedes: Lewis made the difference
- Complete Monaco GP results
"That was probably the hardest race I've had," said Hamilton, who dedicated his victory to the late Niki Lauda. "I was definitely using the fighting spirit of Niki."
Verstappen pushed Hamilton all the way and finished the race in second - but takes a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release in the pits after colliding into Bottas during their first stops under the Safety Car.
That penalty drops him to fourth and means Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas complete the podium, with Mercedes failing to secure a one-two for the first time this season.
And Hamilton now leads Bottas in the standings by 17 points.
Vettel's second place represents his best finish of the season and while Ferrari will be encouraged by their pace, the German never looked likely to trouble Hamilton like Verstappen was able to.
Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, had a nightmare home race. Starting 15th after Ferrari's qualifying strategy blunder, Leclerc made good early ground - including a fine move on Romain Grosjean into Rascasse - but rammed into the barriers when trying an identical move on Nico Hulkenberg on the next lap.
That caused an early Safety Car on Lap 11, and the damage also forced Leclerc to retire.
Pierre Gasly was fifth behind Verstappen and claims an extra point for Red Bull thanks to setting the fastest lap, while the impressive Carlos Sainz led a tight midfield battle.
Monaco GP: Race Result
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5) Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
6) Carlos Sainz, McLaren
7) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
8) Alex Albon, Toro Rosso
9) Romain Grosjean, Haas
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
Max battles with both Mercs, Hamilton's class shows
There were several incidents during another tense Monaco GP, including a collision between Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Kubica, and it was the Safety Car following Leclerc's shunt which provided the afternoon's major talking points.
The top four, unchanged in grid order with Bottas second behind Hamilton, all came in for stops following the Safety Car but Mercedes had to stack their two drivers, leading to a slightly slower stop for the Finn.
Red Bull tried to take advantage with Verstappen but released their driver straight into Bottas' path. The two made contact, with Bottas even forced to pit again on the next lap as Mercedes suspected damage. A five-second penalty for Verstappen was considered lenient.
But that didn't mean Verstappen gave up, and he was Hamilton's main challenger for the rest of the race. Hamilton, who was placed onto the softer medium tyres compared to his main rivals behind him on the hard compound, was agitated and stressed throughout the race, constantly questioning his Mercedes team.
Radio messages from Hamilton included:
- "I'm definitely in a bad way."
- "We're going to lose this race."
- "I don't know what you're thinking, keeping these tyres on. You need to hope for a miracle."
Hamilton tried to control the pace with worn tyres but Verstappen, knowing he needed to get ahead of Hamilton and then open up a five-second gap to win the race, threw everything at the Briton on the narrow streets.
That desperation showed on Lap 76.
Verstappen lunged down the inside of the Mercedes into the chicane, clattering into his left rear tyre. The two escaped damage, with Hamilton continuing straight on and Verstappen just avoiding the barriers.
"It was close," said Hamilton. "A bit of a late dive, luckily I saw him last minute. A light touch and we moved on."
Stewards investigated the incident but decided no further action was necessary.
From there, Hamilton wasn't going to be denied - and Mercedes were full of praise for their driver, admitting their tyre strategy mistake.
"That was a champion's drive," added Sky F1's Martin Brundle.
In this form, and with this points advantage, this five-time world champion will be tough to stop in F1 2019. But Monaco also showed that Mercedes aren't always going to get their own way - with Red Bull in particular making ground.
The season continues with the Canadian GP on June 7-9, live and exclusive on Sky Sports F1.
Monaco GP Race Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:43.28.437|
|2) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+2.602|
|3) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+3.162|
|4) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+5.537|
|5) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+9.946|
|6) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+53.454|
|7) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+54.574|
|8) Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+55.200|
|9) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+60.894|
|10) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+61.034|
|11) Lando Norris||McLaren||+66.801|
|12) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1 LAP|
|13) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+1 LAP|
|14) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1 LAP|
|15) George Russell||Williams||+1 LAP|
|16) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1 LAP|
|17) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1 LAP|
|18) Robert Kubica||Williams||+1 LAP|
|19) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+2 LAPS|
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