Vettel wins street fight against Raikkonen to triumph at Monaco

Sebastian Vettel clinched victory in the Monaco Grand Prix over his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. While Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton finished down in seventh.

Pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen led the opening part of the race, but Vettel stayed out five laps longer before his pit-stop, and rejoined ahead of his team-mate.

Raikkonen could not respond with Vettel stretching his lead before the safety car was called into action when Jenson Button collided with Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, pitching the Sauber onto its side against the barrier.

But once the Monaco Grand Prix got back under way, Vettel was able to build a gap and crossed the finishing line 3.1 seconds clear of his team-mate to secure Ferrari’s first win at Monte Carlo since 2001.

Daniel Ricciardo, who survived hitting the wall at Sainte Devote after the race restart, also ran a long first stint, enabling him to jump the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and his own Red Bull team-mate of Max Verstappen to take third place.

Hamilton, who started P14, was the last driver to pit, switching from ultra-softs to super-softs and rejoining seventh.

The three-time world champion pressured Carlos Sainz in the closing stages, but could not find a way past, which means he leaves Monaco 25 points adrift of Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

Raikkonen made a brilliant getaway to lead away from pole, with Vettel fending off a half-hearted attack from Bottas to retain second.

The Iceman built a gap of around 2.1 seconds, but Vettel began closing that down and was within a second before Raikkonen was called into the pits.

Vettel pumped in a series of quick laps ahead of his stop and rejoined around a second clear of his team-mate, with Raikkonen seemingly giving up on the win from there.

Verstappen was furious when he found out Ricciardo had jumped him, labelling the situation a disaster, and though he pressured Bottas for much of the second stint, he couldn’t find a way past.

With 18 laps to go, Button, who was filling in at McLaren while Fernando Alonso competes at the Indianapolis 500, tried an ambitious pass on Wehrlein into Portier.

The two, who had run nose-to-tail for the entire race, made contact, with Wehlein’s Sauber flipped onto its side against the barrier, while Button pulled over at the exit of the tunnel with the front-left corner of the car heavily-damaged.

Wehrlein climbed out of the car, once it was righted onto its wheels, and was able to walk away unaided but went to the medical centre for precautionary checks.

It was a frustrating day for Sauber, with Marcus Ericsson carrying too much speed into Sainte Devote and hitting the wall when trying to pass the safety car to unlap himself.

Romain Grosjean finished eighth for Haas, ahead of Felipe Massa with Kevin Magnussen completing the top ten.

Stoffel Vandoorne was set to finish in tenth position and score McLaren’s first point of the season but he slid off at Sainte Devote when Sergio Perez attacked down the inside.

Perez, who had his race compromised when he was forced to pit early with a damaged front wing, then tried a bold pass on Daniil Kvyat at Rascasse for ninth.

The pair made contact, with Kvyat retiring and Perez pitting for another front wing, bringing to an end his 15-race point-scoring streak.

Jolyon Palmer was the sole finishing Renault in P11 with his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg retiring with a gearbox problem when running tenth.

So not the greatest Monaco Grand Prix. After an exciting qualifying session in which the sport’s most popular driver was on pole position, the main event was a let down. Kimi Raikkonen’s race was screwed over due to Ferrari’s pit-stop strategy and that allow Sebastian Vettel to benefit the most. Victory and 25 points in the championship.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results after 78 laps:
1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    78    1h44m44.340s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    78    3.145s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    78    3.745s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    78    5.517s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    78    6.199s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    78    12.038s
7    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    78    15.801s
8    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    78    18.150s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    78    19.445s
10    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    78    21.443s
11    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    78    22.737s
12    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    78    23.725s
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    78    39.089s
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    71    Collision
15    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    71    7 Laps
–    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    66    Spun off
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    63    Spun off
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    57    Collision
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    57    Collision
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    15    Gearbox

Drivers’ standings:
1    Sebastian Vettel    129
2    Lewis Hamilton    104
3    Valtteri Bottas    75
4    Kimi Raikkonen    67
5    Daniel Ricciardo    52
6    Max Verstappen    45
7    Sergio Perez    34
8    Carlos Sainz    25
9    Felipe Massa    20
10    Esteban Ocon    19
11    Nico Hulkenberg    14
12    Romain Grosjean    9
13    Kevin Magnussen    5
14    Pascal Wehrlein    4
15    Daniil Kvyat    4
16    Jolyon Palmer    0
17    Lance Stroll    0
18    Marcus Ericsson    0
19    Fernando Alonso    0
20    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
21    Stoffel Vandoorne    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Ferrari    196
2    Mercedes    179
3    Red Bull-Renault    97
4    Force India-Mercedes    53
5    Toro Rosso-Renault    29
6    Williams-Mercedes    20
7    Renault    14
8    Haas-Ferrari    14
9    Sauber-Ferrari    4
10    McLaren-Honda    0

9 thoughts to “Vettel wins street fight against Raikkonen to triumph at Monaco”

  1. Monaco Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Sebastian Vettel beat Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen to victory in Sunday’s Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2017, boosting his title advantage to 25 points over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who finished a distant seventh. Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium for Red Bull.

    A late safety-car period meant a frantic final 10 laps, but at the front the race was decided largely by strategy. A longer first stint for Vettel enabled him to get ahead of polesitter and early leader Raikkonen as he emerged in front of the Finn following their first and only pit stops. It was Ferrari’s first win in the Principality since 2001.

    Ricciardo similarly made use of the ‘overcut’ to pass Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and his less-than-impressed Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, who duly took the chequered flag in fourth and fifth respectively.

    Toro Rosso were ‘best of the rest’ with Carlos Sainz in sixth, as Hamilton behind him climbed from 13th on the grid. Completing the top ten were Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, separated by the Williams of Felipe Massa.

    The most dramatic moment of the race came on Lap 60 when an ambitious passing attempt from McLaren’s Jenson Button on Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein went awry, tipping the latter’s car on to its side against the Portier barriers, its mercifully unharmed driver unable to escape his cockpit until help arrived. And as the safety car emerged, Button got as far as the chicane before suspension damage forced him to halt his one-race comeback.

    Raikkonen had won the start, and soon the two Ferraris cleared off, though there was a period in the middle of the race when the pursuing Bottas and the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo were running quicker as the red cars’ tyres started sliding.

    Ricciardo vaulted ahead of both Bottas and Verstappen by pitting later. They did so on the 33rd and 32nd laps respectively, the Australian on the 38th. The Dutchman was not amused.

    But it was Vettel’s stop, on the 39th lap, which put him ahead of Raikkonen, who had made his pit call five laps sooner. That settled the race in his favour, extending his championship points score to 129.

    Raikkonen’s face and demeanour on the podium suggested he was far from happy. This was a race in which the overcut worked more effectively than going for the undercut, so that the later you pitted, the better.

    Ricciardo was happy, especially as he had clobbered the barrier exiting Ste Devote when the race restarted on the 67th lap and he narrowly fended off Bottas and Verstappen. He stayed ahead of them as the Dutchman got bottled up behind the Mercedes, to claim the final podium slot.

    Sainz brought his Toro Rosso home and excellent sixth, holding off a fierce challenge from Hamilton. The Englishman’s race didn’t begin until his rivals began pitting, and for the first 20 or so laps he ran 10th after overtaking Stoffel Vandoorne off the line and moving up as Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault stopped early on with a blown gearbox and Sergio Perez pitted early for a new front wing on his Force India.

    Hamilton kept running, and had climbed up to sixth before he pitted on the 46th lap. He lost just one place, to Sainz, but did not have the performance to pass the Spaniard even when the field bunched up behind the safety car. He now has 104 points, 25 – or a race win – behind Vettel.

    Romain Grosjean ran well to take eighth for Haas, always in points contention, and it was a good day for the US team as Kevin Magnussen benefitted from a late collision which removed Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso after he was hit by the recovering Perez in a battle for position at Rascasse.

    Magnussen had been well placed early on, but lost out in the pit stops and had dropped to 12th, but made it back to 10th, behind Massa’s equally fortunate Williams.

    Jolyon Palmer was Renault’s survivor, and held off everything Esteban Ocon could throw at him to take 11th, as the Force Indias finally failed to score for the first time in 14 races, or to maintain their record of taking double points in every 2017 race.

    Marcus Ericsson added to Sauber’s horrible day by crashing slowly at Ste Devote whilst under the safety car, and Vandoorne lost McLaren’s strong chance of the final point by doing the same thing there on the restart a lap later. Lance Stroll’s Williams retired late, with loss of brakes.

    For Ferrari the race marked a big step towards not only the drivers’ championship, but also the constructors, as they move back ahead of Mercedes with 196 points to 179 as they scored their first 1-2 since Germany 2010.

  2. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was left feeling downbeat and admitted that second position “doesn’t count a lot”. has the full story.

    Kimi Raikkonen says his second place in the Monaco Grand Prix “doesn’t count a lot” after he lost out to Ferrari Formula 1 teammate Sebastian Vettel.

    The Finn led the opening stint of the race after taking his first pole position since 2008, but he fell behind Vettel during the pitstops, with the German coming in five laps later and rejoining just ahead.

    From there, Vettel drove away from Raikkonen with ease, taking Ferrari’s first win in the Principality since Michael Schumacher’s triumph in 2001.

    When asked how he felt about the race after looking downbeat on the podium, Raikkonen said: “I don’t know. Obviously it didn’t work out very well for me.

    “Other than that… not much I can say about it. It’s still second place, but it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.

    “It doesn’t feel awfully good – that is how it goes sometimes. One of those days we should have had a bit more.”

    Amid suggestions his race strategy was chosen in a way that would benefit Vettel’s title hopes, when asked why he pitted when he did, Raikkonen added: “I was called in. That is about it.

    “Obviously they had reasons for it, but it is not up to me to answer.

    “I can stop the car if I like [in the pits] as I am driving it, but we work as a team and if you don’t believe what you have been told or how it works it will get very complicated.

    “Today as a team we wanted a one-two, it happened, but for myself, I could have done a bit better. I haven’t seen the big picture, I only know that we came second.

    “The team got a one-two, which is great for the team, but the rest – until we have meetings and we can see all the graphs I don’t know.”

    Vettel, who now leads Lewis Hamilton by 25 points in the championship, said the different strategies for the Ferrari drivers was not part of a pre-race plan.

    “We couldn’t plan much – the plan was to pull away but Valtteri [Bottas, in third] had good pace,” he said.

    “I saw Valtteri pitted and Kimi responded, I still had a bit of a gap and nothing to lose so I pushed as hard as possible and in two laps I surprised myself to pull a gap and come out in front.

    “The car was really good and I pushed everything I could, so I knew if there was a chance [to jump Raikkonen] that was it.”

  3. Championship leader and Monaco Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel denies that this victory result was issued by team orders. has the details.

    Monaco Grand Prix race winner Sebastian Vettel has denied that Ferrari’s race strategy was part of a pre-arranged plan to switch its cars around to benefit his Formula 1 title hopes.

    Vettel jumped ahead of polesitter and race leader Kimi Raikkonen by staying out five laps longer during the only pitstop phase of the race, prompting suggestions that it was a predetermined strategy to swap the cars around.

    When asked if the strategy was a result of team orders, which are not illegal in F1, Vettel said: “Not really, there was no plan on team orders.

    “We spoke about the race before and it was clear – the lead normally gets priority, and if I had the choice to go first, that is normally what you want to do.

    “This is one of those rare times where the ‘overcut’ [stopping after a rival] is positive.

    “The rule of thumb, if you qualify ahead you get priority at the first stop. Today it worked out in my favour and I take it.”

    Vettel said he could understand if Raikkonen – who said his result didn’t “count a lot” – wasn’t happy after the race.

    “There is no reason to lie, I am very happy,” said Vettel. “But I can understand he is a bit more upset.

    “For me [the strategy] meant staying ahead of Valtteri [Bottas] and close to Kimi – I was surprised when I came out ahead.

    “It worked well to stay out longer today, but if you were looking at it before the race, you cannot predict. We are racing, we get on well. I can understand Kimi is not entirely happy today.

    “He drove well in the first stint but then you get the message to go in, you do the stop and then you push.

    “When I heard the lap times of Bottas, I felt I needed to stretch myself and I was surprised I could get so much pace from the car.”

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admitted that seventh position was good enough after sleepless night. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton says he can leave Monaco very happy with his race result following a qualifying nightmare than left him sleepless on Saturday.

    The Mercedes driver had a torrid day on Saturday and qualified down in 14th position, moving up to 13th on the grid due to Jenson Button’s grid penalty.

    After struggling for pace for most of the weekend, Hamilton revealed he had not slept much after qualifying.

    The Briton opted for a very long first stint on ultrasoft tyres in the race and managed to climb to seventh position at the end.

    Hamilton saw the result as very positive and said it allows him to move forwards after a tough weekend.

    “I do have the smartest strategists,” said Hamilton. “Today they said the best [possible] result was looking like a 10th. So I went in with a positive mentality, pushed as hard as I could.

    “I’m really, really happy with the result. I might not have won the race, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. It was kind of boring in the first part and at the end where you couldn’t overtake, but the middle part where I was in clear air I enjoyed.

    “I came in this morning feeling terrible, I didn’t sleep a lot last night. But to come away with the points that I’ve come away with, I can honestly move away from this and move forwards.”

    Teammate Valtteri Bottas finished down in fourth position, having started from third on the grid.

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded the team had simply not been fast enough, and said there is “a lot to understand” before the next race in Canada.

    “You have to admit our car was not quick enough this weekend,” said Wolff. “We were caught on the back foot on Thursday afternoon and we somehow never recovered.

    “The guys were in the window, and then out the window, and in the race you could see the same pattern. There were certain stages in the race when Lewis was really fast. So there is a lot to understand.

    “We have time until Montreal, a difficult track again, but we need to get on top of things.”

  5. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat has slammed Force India rival Sergio Perez for a “desperate, stupid” overtaking attempt that ended with the Russian retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix.

    Perez, who had spent much of the race outside of the points after an early stop to replace a broken front wing, was charging back into the top 10 in the closing stages and put on new tyres during the safety car triggered by the Jenson Button – Pascal Wehrlein collision.

    The Mexican had edged alongside McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne on the restart for 10th, the Belgian going into the Ste Devote barriers as Perez took the position, and then wound up on the back of Kvyat’s Toro Rosso.

    On the 72nd lap, Perez attempted a late dive down the inside of Rascasse, colliding with Kvyat and putting him out of the race. The Mexican himself had to pit with damage, ending a 15-race streak of top-10 finishes.

    Kvyat said after the race: “I was already just doing my job, just going to the finish, after all that happened this weekend I would be very happy with P9. I obviously knew he [Perez] had fresher tyres, I saw what he did to Vandoorne and I thought ‘okay, this guy really is desperate’.

    “So I was just covering my line, to be honest, all the time and then he tried to go from really far away, I didn’t even see it coming. And what I felt was just a hit, and my race was over.

    “He just tried to, you know, lean on me like it was PlayStation, and it doesn’t work like that.

    “So, very, very disappointed, I think it was a completely desperate move from him.”

    The Russian expressed his surprise at Perez’s actions, as he said the seven-time F1 podium finisher was experienced enough not to attempt such a rash move.

    “It was desperate, I don’t understand. The guy with so much experience, was fighting for the podiums is doing such desperate, stupid moves,” Kvyat said.

    He added: “I think I was just doing my job today, simple as that, was doing a good race, very calm, bringing the points and then you always find the one guy who fucks your whole day, and it is Perez.

    Perez, for his part, said he felt compelled to try and make up as many positions as possible with new tyres after his early-race misfortune.

    “Basically it was a bit of a nightmare, my race, starting with lap 1. I had a little touch with my front wing, which compromised my whole race,” the Mexican told Sky Sports.

    “We managed to recover, I overtook [Lance] Stroll and I overtook [Jolyon] Palmer, I had to risk a lot to overtake. Then I found myself with new tyres at the end and around two seconds a lap quicker than Kvyat and [Romain] Grosjean.

    “I saw a gap. I went for it, unfortunately there wasn’t enough room and we slightly touched, which meant it ruined his race and my race as well.

    “But to be totally honest, when I found myself in P10 on new tyres, I knew I wasn’t going to go home happy if I didn’t try. So I had to try everything.”


  6. Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein hits out at Jenson Button’s “silly” move which affected both drivers in the Monaco Grand Prix. has the full story.

    Pascal Wehrlein hit out at Jenson Button for what he called a “silly move” that led to their accident at the Monaco Grand Prix.

    The duo collided at Portier near the end of the race when Button dove down the inside of Wehrlein, touching his right rear wheel and sending him into the wall.

    Wehrlein’s car flipped onto its side and ended up against the barriers. The safety car had to be deployed as a result.

    The Sauber driver had no doubt that his McLaren rival was to blame for the crash.

    “He was nowhere, clearly this corner is no place to overtake. It was a silly move,” Wehrlein said.

    Wehrlein’s helmet made contact with the barrier and the German said he will need to have a scan next week to make sure everything is fine following the back injury that led to him missing the first two races of the season.

    “I touched again the head on the barrier, so I will have to do another scan next week for my back, so let’s see,” he said.

    “I could jump out myself, so it seems to be OK. Obviously with the injury I had, I’m not too sure.”

    He added: “I remember everything [of the crash], it was just scary. The brakes started to smoke, I couldn’t get out of the car, but the only thing I wanted to do was get out of the car when you see the car starting to smoke.”

    Button said he realised too late than Wehrlein had not seen him.

    “Obviously I thought it was on because [otherwise] I wouldn’t have made the move,” he said. “I got alongside him, then I looked across and was like, ‘he hasn’t seen me at all’.

    “These cars are so difficult to see out the back of, I’ve been telling the team and the FIA that this weekend. I tried to back out of it, but it was too late and we touched.”

    The Briton, in his one-off return to F1 as Fernando Alonso’s stand-in, admitted it was “horrible” to see Wehrlein’s car stuck against the wall.

    “I’ve never seen a car go up on its side before, I don’t know if that’s the way the tyre is or just unlucky, I don’t know. Horrible to see, I wanted to get out the way as soon as possible because the leaders were coming round.

    “I asked as soon as I stopped the car and they said he got out on his own, which is good. I saw him earlier, he obviously wasn’t happy but he seemed OK anyway.”

  7. Red Bull Racing’s denies Max Verstappen Monaco strategy stitch-up which affected the youngster’s race. has the details.

    Red Bull says that Max Verstappen’s fury about losing out on a podium shot at the Monaco Grand Prix because of a strategy call was quelled when the team explained why it made him pit early on Sunday.

    The Dutchman had been shadowing third placed Valtteri Bottas in the early stages of the race, and Red Bull tried to go for the undercut in a bid to leapfrog the Mercedes driver.

    But it all went wrong for Verstappen when time lost in the pitlane allowed Bottas to stay ahead.

    To make matters worse, teammate Daniel Ricciardo was able to produce quicker laps as he stayed out on old tyres before pitting, so managed to leapfrog both drivers to move from fifth to third.

    Verstappen vented his frustration on the team radio, and made clear to Dutch television afterwards that he was far from happy with what happened.

    “I didn’t expect that we would stop that early,” he said. “Even if we managed to get Bottas with the undercut, we were still going to end up behind [Carlos] Sainz so I didn’t understand it very well.

    “But okay, it’s over now. I can talk about this for a very long time, but…I don’t really know what to say. I’m incredibly disappointed.”

    Explaining the team’s strategy call later on, Horner said the decision to bring Verstappen in early was prompted by the team seeing Sergio Perez having good pace on new supersofts.

    “We looked at Sergio Perez’s out-lap, which had been pretty impressive, and rather than just sitting behind Valtteri and not trying anything, we thought ‘okay, there is some traffic coming up,'” said Horner.

    “We could see the cars were quite badly affected by the traffic and we saw Ferrari take a bit of a hit in performance. So we went for the undercut.

    “If the car had been square in the pitlane, if we had had a perfect stop, if we had a good getaway, we looked like we gave one second away in the pitlane, not on the stop – the pitlane itself – and that was the difference.”

    He added: “That would have been enough, combined with Max’s out-lap, to have got the jump on Bottas. In turn Bottas covered us, as he was focused on Max.

    “That opened up the opportunity for Daniel, giving him some free air which he exploited to good effect and managed to jump both the guys and achieve third place.”

    Horner said that Verstappen had listened to the team’s explanation on Sunday night and accepted that the team had been trying to do its best for him.

    When asked if it had been hard going through it with Verstappen, Horner said: “Not at all. After he got back here, he sat down and went through it calmly.

    “Of course emotions are running high in the car and of course you would expect him [to be like that]. He has just seen his teammate come from behind him to being ahead of him and in the podium position, so of course he was excited on the radio.

    “But having looked at the facts and understanding the circumstances of how and why these things happen, he could understand the scenario. Today it didn’t work for him, another day it will go for him.”

  8. Lewis Hamilton says it is clear that Ferrari has chosen Sebastian Vettel as its number one driver in the battle for the 2017 Formula 1 world championship.

    Vettel jumped teammate Kimi Raikkonen during the pitstops to win the Monaco Grand Prix, after being left out for five more laps than the Finn when they took their only tyre changes in the race.

    While Raikkonen was very disappointed with the result, Vettel denied that the strategy was part of any plan from Ferrari to switch the order of its cars to benefit his title hopes, but Hamilton suggested otherwise.

    “It’s clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their number one driver, so they’re going to be pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will get the maximum on all of his weekends,” said Hamilton, who trails the German by 25 points after recovering from 13th on the grid to seventh after a tough weekend.

    “With the strategy, it’s very hard for the leading car to get jumped by the second car unless the team decide to favour the other car, so that’s very clear.”

    Mercedes asked Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas to move aside to allow him to fight for victory in Bahrain earlier this year, and the Finn admitted that his “job” in the Spanish Grand Prix was to hold up Vettel when his pit strategy put him ahead of the Ferrari on track.

    But when Hamilton was asked if his observation about Ferrari favouring Vettel meant he would be asking Mercedes for similar treatment, he dismissed the idea.

    “I haven’t spoken to the team, and I don’t really plan to,” Hamilton added. “Valtteri’s doing a great job, I don’t currently feel that we have to favour one over the other.

    “It’s really important that we work as a team more than anything, as we have been. There might be some things along the way positioning wise which, at some stage, become valuable.

    “But who knows, it might go the other way – I might need to give Valtteri the upper hand.

    “I really have no idea. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ahead of them so we don’t need to be in the same scenario that they’re in today.”


  9. This was a challenging Monaco Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton and admitted that his car handling was the “most unusual” in Mercedes career. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes had the most “unusual” feel he had ever experienced over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, as his team chases answers for its weekend tyre mystery.

    Mercedes was left on the back foot in Monte Carlo as it failed to fully get on top of managing tyre temperatures on the tricky street circuit.

    That opened the way for Ferrari to deliver a 1-2 finish that has helped Sebastian Vettel open up a 25-point advantage in the drivers’ championship over Hamilton.

    While Mercedes does not yet have an answer for what went wrong, Hamilton said the scale of the team’s problem was particularly big because of how strange the weekend had been.

    “It was not a happy car, that’s for sure,” said Hamilton. “It was the most unusual way the car has felt in all the years I’ve been with the team. Definitely a difficult one.

    “But I think that doesn’t deter the fact that we have a great car. It’s just perhaps we didn’t hit the nail on the top of the head this weekend.

    “So we’ll regroup, get the car back to where we know it’s comfortable for the next races, try to understand the ultrasoft tyre a bit better and, yeah, come back stronger.”

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff described the W08 as a bit of a ‘diva’ – in that it was very particular about its operating window.

    Hamilton conceded that rivals Ferrari were making gains because its SF70H seemed well-balanced on all types of tracks and in all conditions.

    “Ferrari seems to work everywhere, so we’ve definitely got a serious… you know, these next 14 races will be very, very difficult,” he said.

    “They’ve had probably the strongest car all year, a bit like our car last year where it just worked everywhere. This car currently is not working every single race we go to.

    “But the more races we do, the more we learn and the stronger we get. We still came away from here with some points. We know that the Ferraris are not bulletproof, they’ve got things potentially coming up – all the totals [engine components] they’ve used or potentially used, so we’ll see.”

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