Hamilton resists pressure to score Monte Carlo victory

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton resisted huge pressure and a late contact with Max Verstappen to take victory in Formula 1’s most glamorous race, the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver kept focus despite tyre graining. Lewis resisted more than 60 laps of pressure from Max to hold on to win despite having to manage softer tyres than his pursuers.

As Verstappen was not able to get past the Mercedes and edge clear – despite a late dive at the chicane two laps from the end – he fell from second to fourth at the flag because of a five-second time penalty.

Verstappen picked that up for an unsafe release in the pits that had got him ahead of Bottas, who he made light contact with and forced into the wall.

Verstappen fell behind both Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Bottas, who completed the podium despite needing to make a second pitstop under the safety car after his brush with the wall caused a puncture.

Poleman Hamilton retained his advantage at the start ahead of Bottas, despite Verstappen having a look inside Bottas the Sainte Devote on the first lap.

The leaders held station for the opening stint, which was cut short by a safety car after Charles Leclerc – who started in P15 following Ferrari’s qualifying error – littered the track with debris from a dramatic puncture.

Leclerc hit the inside wall at Rascasse and half-spun after trying to pass Nico Hulkenberg for P11.

He tried to continue but picked up a puncture and scattered a large amount of debris as the rubber fell apart around the rest of the lap.

Mercedes opted to pit both its cars under the safety car period and Bottas dropped back behind Hamilton to try to give enough of a gap to avoid losing time.

When they stopped, Verstappen was released just as Bottas was coming past, and though Verstappen was a nose ahead a small amount of contact forced Bottas to kiss the wall on the right-hand side.

The incident damaged Bottas’s wheel rim and caused a slow puncture, but with the safety car still deployed he only dropped behind Vettel to fourth – and eventually Verstappen was awarded a five-second penalty for the unsafe release.

Once the race resumed, Verstappen hounded Hamilton for more than 60 laps, but only got close enough to start attacking the five-time world champion in the final ten.

He had a brief look to the outside of the hairpin on lap 70 but was not close enough on the exit of Portier to get a proper run at Hamilton into the chicane.

On lap 76 he lunged Hamilton, but Hamilton moved across. Verstappen locked up and they made minor wheel-to-wheel contact – Verstappen’s right-front to Hamilton’s left-rear – and Hamilton took to the escape road, but both continued without damage.

Hamilton’s win extended his championship lead over Bottas to 17 points, while Vettel and Bottas were slightly adrift but within five seconds, significent enough to drop Verstappen down to fourth.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly finished in fifth, his best result since his move to the senior team, and earned fastest lap after building enough of a gap to make a late, free pitstop for fresh tyres.

Behind, Carlos Sainz earned his best result for McLaren in sixth place after opting not to pit under the early safety car.

That strategy was replicated by Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon, who used it to great effect to finish seventh and eighth for Toro Rosso.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth, the lead midfield runner who did pit under the safety car.

Romain Grosjean, who opted for the same strategy as Sainz/Kvyat/Albon, completed the points scorers for Haas.

Leclerc was the only retirement from the Monaco Grand Prix. A big shame for the home hero.

There was a separate Rascasse incident shortly after the safety car, when Antonio Giovinazzi hit Robert Kubica and spun the Williams.

The track was briefly blocked, holding up a few cars, but Kubica was able to reverse and get out of the way quickly, which avoided anything worse than localised yellow flags.

So an entertaining Monaco Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton relieved to take the chequered flag after big pressure from Max Verstappen and graining tyres. Unfortunate for Charles Leclerc. A poor weekend for the Ferrari driver in his home race. Better luck next year.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 78 1h43m28.437s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 78 2.602s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 78 3.162s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 78 5.537s
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 78 9.946s
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 78 53.454s
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 78 54.574s
8 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 78 55.200s
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 78 1m00.894s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 78 1m01.034s
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 78 1m06.801s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 77 1 Lap
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 77 1 Lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 77 1 Lap
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 76 2 Laps
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari 16 Accident damage

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 137
2 Valtteri Bottas 120
3 Sebastian Vettel 82
4 Max Verstappen 78
5 Charles Leclerc 57
6 Pierre Gasly 32
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. 18
8 Kevin Magnussen 14
9 Sergio Perez 13
10 Kimi Raikkonen 13
11 Lando Norris 12
12 Daniil Kvyat 9
13 Daniel Ricciardo 8
14 Alexander Albon 7
15 Nico Hulkenberg 6
16 Lance Stroll 4
17 Romain Grosjean 2
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
19 George Russell 0
20 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 257
2 Ferrari 139
3 Red Bull-Honda 110
4 McLaren-Renault 30
5 Racing Point-Mercedes 17
6 Haas-Ferrari 16
7 Toro Rosso-Honda 16
8 Renault 14
9 Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 13
10 Williams-Mercedes 0

Hamilton wins Monaco street fight qualifying from Bottas

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton denied his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in the final seconds of qualifying to snatch pole position in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Bottas had the advantage of 0.231 seconds over Hamilton after the first runs in Q3 but was unable to improve on his second set of Pirellis softs.

Hamilton then put in a lap of one minute, 10.166 seconds to outpace Bottas by 0.086 seconds, with his impressive pace through the first sector crucial to sealing the pole.

Bottas held on to second position as Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was also unable to improve and stayed in third postition, 0.475 seconds down.

Sebastian Vettel made a promising start to his lap and looked set to improve, but kissed the wall at the exit of the Tabac right-hander and had to settle for fourth based on his first-run time.

Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly was fifth, 0.875 seconds off the pace, but faces a post-session investigation for impeding Haas driver Romain Grosjean during Q2.

Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest in sixth position and was the only driver outside the top three teams to still have enough tyres for two runs using fresh Pirelli softs.

Having taking sixth position on his first run, he then briefly lost it to Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, before reclaiming it on the second run.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was eighth fastest, a tenth and a half quicker than McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

Teammate Alex Albon made Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career, but had to settle for tenth and 1.487 seconds off the pace.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was bumped out of the top ten in the final moments of Q2 when Magnussen, who had struggled on his first run after locking up and clipping the inside wall at Mirabeau, improved.

Lando Norris was half-a-tenth behind Hulkenberg in P12 and 0.3 seconds quicker than Grosjean – who complained about traffic over the radio at the end of the session after being impeded by Gasly.

Alfa Romeo pairing Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were P14 and P15 respectively, with just 0.070 seconds separating the pair.

Leclerc was the quickest of those to fall in Q1 in P16 after completing just one single run and failing to make the top 15 by 0.052 seconds despite being only 0.715 seconds off the pace in the session.

Leclerc had posted a best time of one minute, 12.149 seconds but was not sent back out despite picking up a flat spot on his soft Pirellis during that run as Ferrari felt he was safe to get through.

Leclerc also initially missed the weighbridge when he returned after his run, although was pushed back by the Ferrari team before entering the garage and confirmed he had enough fuel and time to have completed a second run after the time lost to this.

However, the end result was that Ferrari screwed up the situation and the home race hero Leclerc will start the race in P16.

Albon, Hulkenberg and teammate Vettel then ahead of him on their final laps of Q1 to ensure he didn’t make the cut.

Vettel himself had not set a strong enough time on his first run having abandoned the final quick lap on his first run after kissing the wall at the exit of the first left/right at Swimming Pool.

This meant he was among those at risk of elimination before improving on the only fast lap he had time for on his second set of tyres.

Racing Point duo Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were P17 and P18, with 0.613 seconds separating the pair.

George Russell prevailed in the battle of the Williams drivers to take P19, with Robert Kubica bringing up the back end after lapping 0.274 seconds slower.

So a dramatic and exciting Monaco Grand Prix qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton in a happy mood after scoring that all-important pole from his teammate. As overtaking is near impossible on this street circuit, Hamilton is looking strong for the race victory.

As for Charles Leclerc, this was a disappointing result to get knocked out in the first segment of qualifying. Fingers crossed Ferrari can devise a strategy in helping Leclerc to move up the order and score a championship point in the race.

Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m10.166s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m10.252s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m10.641s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m10.947s
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m11.041s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m11.109s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m11.218s
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m11.271s
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m11.417s
10 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m11.653s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m11.670s
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m11.724s
13 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m12.027s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m12.115s
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m12.185s
16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m12.149s
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m12.233s
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m12.846s
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m13.477s
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m13.751s

Hamilton victorious as Mercedes achieves fifth 1-2 result

Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton recorded his third successive Spanish Grand Prix victory with a commanding drive, sealing a fifth 1-2 finish for Mercedes.

Hamilton’s victory ahead of Valtteri Bottas clinched the team’s fifth perfect one-two result in a row and put Lewis seven points clear of his teammate in the world championship.

Max Verstappen earned a second podium of the season for Red Bull Racing and Honda in third place, after Ferrari’s challenge faded early and never recovered.

Hamilton started second on the grid but crucially got ahead of poleman Bottas by winning a three-way duel into the first corner that also featured Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton and Vettel swarmed Bottas on the run to Turn 1, with Hamilton moving to the inside of his team-mate and Vettel almost edging ahead of both on the outside.

Vettel locked up his front right tyre and ran deep into the corner, while Bottas backed out of it in the middle and give up the lead to Hamilton.

Bottas survived a big slide to hold second as Vettel rejoined the track having taken slightly to the run-off, which sent the Ferrari wide through the second corner.

That blocked Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc and allowed Verstappen into third.

As Hamilton sprinted clear of Bottas into a commanding lead, Vettel fell further back in fourth as the flat spot he picked up at the first corner proved a “pain in the arse”.

He eventually let Leclerc into fourth on lap 12 of 66, and the top five held position for most of the rest of the Spanish Grand Prix.

The major differences at this stage were Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc committing to a one-stop strategy but Red Bull putting Verstappen on a two-stop and an early change of tyres for Vettel giving him a second stop to make as well.

In the second half of the race Vettel – on medium compound – found himself bottled up behind Leclerc, who had switched to fresh hard tyres.

Ferrari deployed team orders again, this time in reverse, to briefly free up Vettel until he made his second stop with 25 laps to go.

That put him back to sixth, behind Pierre Gasly, but he made short work of the second Red Bull to regain fifth.

Verstappen’s own second pitstop dropped him to fourth but he was catching Leclerc and poised to retake third on fresh tyres when the safety car was deployed on lap 46.

Lando Norris tried to pass Lance Stroll on the outside into Turn 1, ran slightly deep and was still tight to the inside as the track went left for Turn 2 when Stroll turned in.

They made contact, pitching Stroll into the barriers across the gravel and leaving Norris’s McLaren with big damage to continue.

Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc all took the option to make a safe second pitstop under the safety car, which dropped Leclerc behind both Verstappen and Vettel again.

It took until lap 54 for racing to resume, with Hamilton keeping Bottas behind at the restart with ease and going on to win by four seconds.

Behind, Gasly attacked Leclerc for fifth positions as the two Haas drivers made light contact into Turn 1 just behind them.

Gasly failed to pass Leclerc and then came under attack from Kevin Magnussen, who had got ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean by virtue of their minor collision, but just retained the place.

Magnussen went on to finish seventh, although he was fortunate to be in position to make the overtake on his teammate at the restart.

K-Mag dropped behind Daniil Kvyat in the second stint but regained the place when Toro Rosso had a horrible double-pitstop under the safety car.

Toro Rosso appeared not to have Kvyat’s tyres ready which meant his stop was slow and held up the second car of Alex Albon, dropping him out of the points as he waited for his teammate’s stop to end.

Kvyat fell to P10 but made it back up to ninth by the finish as Grosjean’s race worsened.

After the contact with Magnussen, Grosjean came under attack from Sainz and took to the Turn 1 run-off following a wheel-to-wheel hit.

With Sainz then into ninth, Albon sniffed an opportunity to haul himself back into the points and put Grosjean under pressure in the final laps, but could not steal P10.

So the perfect result for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton winning from Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari’s race strategy comes into question again and it going to be fascinating if the Scuderia can fight back after five defeats. For the sake of the championship, please make this happen Ferrari.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m50.443s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 4.074s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 66 7.679s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 9.167s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 66 13.361s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 66 19.576s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 66 28.159s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 66 32.342s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 66 33.056s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 66 34.641s
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 66 35.445s
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 66 36.758s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 66 39.241s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 66 41.803s
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 66 46.877s
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 66 47.691s
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 65 1 Lap
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 65 1 Lap
– Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 44 Collision
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 44 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 112
2 Valtteri Bottas 105
3 Max Verstappen 66
4 Sebastian Vettel 64
5 Charles Leclerc 57
6 Pierre Gasly 21
7 Kevin Magnussen 14
8 Sergio Perez 13
9 Kimi Raikkonen 13
10 Lando Norris 12
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. 10
12 Daniel Ricciardo 6
13 Nico Hulkenberg 6
14 Lance Stroll 4
15 Alexander Albon 3
16 Daniil Kvyat 3
17 Romain Grosjean 1
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
19 George Russell 0
20 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 217
2 Ferrari 121
3 Red Bull-Honda 87
4 McLaren-Renault 22
5 Racing Point-Mercedes 17
6 Haas-Ferrari 15
7 Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 13
8 Renault 12
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 6
10 Williams-Mercedes 0

Bottas powers to the front to score a hat-trick of poles

Valtteri Bottas achieved a hat-trick of Formula 1 pole positions with a solid qualifying session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The championship leader had the edge on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout qualifying, ending up a massive 0.634 seconds quicker.

None of the top four were able to improve their lap times on their second runs on soft Pirelli compound in Q3, meaning Mercedes kept hold of the front-row lockout it had taken earlier in the final segment.

Sebastian Vettel was third and 0.866 seconds off the pace, less than a tenth quicker than fourth-best Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc only had a single run in Q3 thanks to having to use two sets of soft Pirellis in Q2 after compromising his first run by running wide at Campsa – picking up some minor floor damage.

He put in two attempts on his one set of tyres, but ended up third and over two tenths slower than Verstappen – but ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen made good on the promise the upgraded Haas showed in practice by taking seventh and eighth positions, with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of those in Q3 with P10, although he must serve a three-place grid penalty for reversing into Kvyat in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Lando Norris was the best of those who didn’t reach Q3 in P11 after being bumped down a position by Leclerc’s late improvement in Q2.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon, like his teammate, only had one run on fresh softs in Q2 and ended up P12 after running wide at Turn 5.

Carlos Sainz made an error on what should have been his quickest lap and ended up P13 ahead of the lead Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16, 19 thousandths slower than teammate Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg crashed at the Turn 4 right hander on his first run before he set a time, but was able to recover to the pits despite damaging his front wing.

The Hulk returned to the track in the closing stages and briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone with his first flying lap on the second set of options – although his pace was hindered by having switched to an older-spec front wing.

But Raikkonen then improved to push him down to P16, with Hulkenberg finding two-tenths on his second flying lap but not quite enough to escape.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated for the fifth time in five 2019 races in P17, two tenths faster than P18 quickest Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.

George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for P19 despite a spin at the chicane on his first run, outpacing Robert Kubica by 1.2 seconds after Kubica failed to improve on his second run.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas on scoring another pole position for Mercedes. It’s going to be a fascinating battle royale in the main event as Lewis Hamilton aims to be more ruthless to his teammate in achieving race victories. Bring on the race!

Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m15.406s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.040s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.272s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m16.357s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m16.588s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m16.708s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m16.911s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m16.922s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.573s
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m17.338s
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.445s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m17.599s
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m18.106s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m17.788s
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m17.886s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.404s
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m18.471s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m18.664s
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m20.254s
20 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m19.072s