Lewis Hamilton reflects on his 'most intense' race at Monaco GP
"I was just determined to not crack," says Monaco race winner as he talks about pressure of holding off Max and winning for Niki
By James Galloway in Monaco and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/05/19 7:18pm
Lewis Hamilton has spoken of the "immense" pressure he felt during the Monaco GP to keep Max Verstappen at bay and win in tribute to Niki Lauda.
The world champion described the victory, just his third in 13 attempts in the Principality, as "the hardest race I've had" after completing more than three quarters of it on a tyre compound Mercedes admitted they had made a mistake in fitting.
Required to complete 67 laps on the medium tyres, and with Verstappen on a harder compound stalking his Mercedes, Hamilton unusually lost his cool several times over the radio in agitated conversation with his trusted race engineer, Peter Bonnington.
"It was probably the most intense race I've ever had. I'm not mad at that, honestly that's how racing should be," a delighted but drained Hamilton told Sky Sports F1, who later jumped in to Monaco's famous swimming pool in celebration.
"It's just difficult when you're out on your own for so long and Bono can't say anything, nothing he can say or anyone can say or do to help, it's all down to me to really bring it home for the team and for Niki.
"The pressure just felt immense."
Although admitting he has the "worst memory" for his own glittering racing history, Hamilton suspected he had never faced a tougher scenario.
"I think it was the hardest race I've had," he told reporters. "Obviously I've had a lot of races in my entire career, even beyond Formula 1.
"I think just globally, just in the car, with the tyres, with the strategy, with the circumstances with Max behind, yeah it was the biggest challenge I think I've had."
'I was determined to not crack'
Monaco had proved an emotional and draining week for the Mercedes team in the wake of Lauda's passing last Monday. Lauda had served as the Anglo-German's squad's non-executive chairman since 2012 and Hamilton and Wolff were particularly close to the triple world champion.
Given the circumstances of the week and then the tense race itself, Hamilton said he was not going to wilt on F1's narrowest and most unforgiving circuit.
"There was every opportunity to crack today particularly with that pressure, and I was just determined to not crack," he said.
"If you crack up here [points at head], you're done. Everything's done. On the positive side I'm strong mentally and I think it's fantastic for the team.
"Max put on a great race. I nearly crashed like 30 times so I'm grateful I didn't actually crash, I did touch the wall quite a few times. I'm so grateful it's over."
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