Lewis Hamilton has seized the initiative in the 2019 Formula 1 title fight with an incredible victory at the Monaco Grand Prix. 

On an emotional weekend in the F1 paddock following the death of Niki Lauda, Hamilton followed up on his last-gasp pole position with a steely drive to fend off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in an intense battle. 

Here are some of the main talking points from the Monaco Grand Prix…

Hamilton’s ‘miracle’ Monaco drive 

Hamilton scored his third victory around the streets of Monte Carlo and it is was one he really had to work hard for. 

Having snatched pole position - which is so crucial in Monaco - from teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton led away at the start and looked to be in control of proceedings until an early Safety Car threatened to throw a spanner in the works. 

Mercedes opted to put Hamilton onto Medium tyres when the frontrunners all pitted at the same time on Lap 11, while his rivals switched onto the more durable Hard compound. 

With the threat of rain rapidly decreasing, Hamilton would have to spend the remainder of the race soaking up pressure from the unrelenting Verstappen on tyres that were fast degrading. 

The scale of his task was clear: F1’s tyre suppliers Pirelli had recommended that the Medium compound would only be able to complete 50 tours of Monaco, and there were 67 separating Hamilton from the chequered flag. 

It would have been a huge challenge in normal circumstances, but there was an additional factor in the form of Verstappen - one of F1’s most aggressive drivers and best overtakers hounding him throughout.

Hamilton repeatedly raised concerns over team radio, saying his Mercedes team would have to hope for a “miracle”. Despite a lack of grip on ever-deteriorating tyres, the five-time world champion turned in a masterful display of tyre management and defensive driving to withstand race-long pressure from Verstappen. 

Even late contact between the pair when Verstappen tried an audacious pass at the Nouvelle Chicane failed to derail Hamilton as he finished the race on “0% rubber” to seal an impressive win that acted as a fitting tribute to the late Lauda. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted after the race that the team had made a rare mistake in its tyre choice and said that Hamilton’s driving had “saved” the German manufacturer from defeat, while chief strategist James Vowles added: “You were the only man who could do that.” 

 

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