Hamilton wins Monaco F1 nail-biter

Mercedes takes sixth win in a row with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel second

26 May 2019 - 20:04 By Reuters
Race winner Hamilton (centre), second-placed Vettel (left) and third-placed Bottas all wore caps on the podium in tribute to the late Niki Lauda.
Race winner Hamilton (centre), second-placed Vettel (left) and third-placed Bottas all wore caps on the podium in tribute to the late Niki Lauda.
Image: Reuters

Lewis Hamilton won a nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday to score his 77th career win and take a 17-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas in the championship.

The Briton had called for a "miracle" as Red Bull's Max Verstappen filled his car's mirrors, with the pair banging wheels late on. The five times world champion held on, taking the chequered flag for his fourth win of the season and third in Monaco, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel the runner-up after a time penalty demoted Verstappen to fourth.

Bottas, who was involved in a pitlane collision with Verstappen on lap 12 that led to the Dutch driver's penalty for an unsafe release, finished third.

On the podium the three drivers wore Niki Lauda caps in tribute to the triple world champion and non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team who died on Monday, aged 70.

Mercedes, who extended their winning run to six, lead Ferrari by 118 points in the constructors' standings. Hamilton has 137 to 120 for Bottas, with Vettel moving up to third place on 82.

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Hamilton and Verstappen finished under investigation after they banged wheels going into the chicane at the tunnel exit two laps from the end when the Dutchman tried to pass, but stewards took no further action.

The Briton was forced to cut the corner but kept his advantage.

Hamilton, who started on pole, had earlier had some anxious and angry exchanges with his team who admitted they had made a mistake with their tyre selection.

"I don't know what you're thinking by keeping these tyres on, man. You need to hope for a miracle," Hamilton said, with Verstappen on longer-lasting hard rubber and doing all he could to pass.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc had created much of the early excitement of an entertaining race but was also the sole retirement, stepping out of the car in the pits with 19 laps gone.

The Monegasque, starting 16th, was up to 12th by the end of lap seven after overtaking McLaren's Lando Norris and Haas's Romain Grosjean at the hairpin and Rascasse.

The youngster, who had vowed to be aggressive after a Ferrari strategy blunder messed up his qualifying, paid the price when he tried the same move on Renault's Nico Hulkenberg at Rascasse.

Leclerc spun and picked up a right rear puncture, limping home on a rim and flailing rubber, losing a lap to the leaders and flinging out debris that led to a safety car period for marshals to sweep the track.

Red Bull's Pierre Gasly finished fifth, with Carlos Sainz sixth and consolidating fourth place overall for McLaren. They were followed by Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, last year's winner for Red Bull, was ninth and Romain Grosjean collected the final point for Haas.