Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen on fight for Monaco win
"Lots of things get thrown at you," says polesitter Hamilton of Monaco challenge; Hopeful Red Bull believe they have "grandstand seats" behind title rivals; Race starts at 2.10pm, live on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway in Monaco
Last Updated: 28/05/19 7:26pm
Lewis Hamilton says he and Mercedes must "stay on our toes" during Sunday's Monaco GP with the chance of rain and the threat of Max Verstappen adding to the challenge around F1's unforgiving street circuit.
A last-gasp victory over team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying means it is Hamilton who heads Mercedes' fourth successive front-row lockout for one of the shortest and narrowest runs of the season to Monaco's Turn One, Ste Devote, for the race start at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1.
However, Hamilton - who has been involved in unusual Monaco race-day incidents in the past both in his favour and against - says the 78 laps of the Principality can never be taken for granted.
"You know, this race - as you've seen in the previous years - lots of things get thrown at you so we've just got to stay on our toes," Hamilton said.
"But I honestly feel that were the best prepared, we've had a really solid weekend of preparation. We've had good years of experience too but that doesn't mean that there are unknowns ahead but we'll face it together."
The Safety Car has been called 86 per cent time of the time during the last 11 years in Monaco, while Sunday weather forecasts include the chance of a mid-afternoon rain shower.
"I heard that there's a potential chance of rain but it will be the same for all of us and if anything that makes it more exciting at this track," Hamilton added.
"But I guess ultimately, when you're on pole, you hope it will be just smooth sailing, a dry, safety car kind of day but yeah, the tyres that we have, it's a one-stop race generally, it has been for a long time here, so it's really just about keeping calm, cool and collected and just delivering on what we've practised throughout the weekend."
Red Bull have 'grandstand seats'
Unusually for a track where the front-row is considered king, both of Hamilton's two Monaco wins (2008 and 2016) have come from the second row and third place.
Red Bull's Verstappen starts from that position on Sunday and Christian Horner reckons the Dutchman is handily placed behind the Mercedes title rivals, who are separated by just seven points in the standings.
"I think to be as close as we are is actually really encouraging," team boss Horner told Sky F1.
"In the race there might be a bit of weather around, and those guys are fighting for a championship. They're on the front row and we've got a grandstand seat."
Verstappen himself said: "We just have to follow our own pace and then see what happens and then maybe get lucky with what happens up front."
What about Bottas from second?
Disappointed and frustrated to lose out on a first Monaco pole after hitting traffic on his final Q3 warm-up lap when he held provisional first place, Bottas is not giving up the fight either.
A victory over Hamilton, plus the fastest lap bonus point, would take the Finn back to the summit of the world championship.
"It's a long race ahead, anything can happen," Bottas said. "The start here is more difficult to make a difference, it's so short to the first corner, but it is a long race ahead. I'm not going to give up and I'm going to find any opportunities there are going to be."
Provisional Monaco GP Grid
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
5) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
6) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
7) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
8) Pierre Gasly, Red Bull*
9) Carlos Sainz, McLaren
10) Alex Albon, Toro Rosso
11) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
12) Lando Norris, McLaren
13) Romain Grosjean, Haas
14) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
15) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
16) Sergio Perez, Racing Point
17) Lance Stroll, Racing Point
18) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo*
19) George Russell, Williams
20) Robert Kubica, Williams
*handed three-place grid penalties for blocking drivers in qualifying
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