As the end of the Monaco Grand Prix approached, Sauber's Nico H?lkenberg would have been forgiven for believing that his afternoon's labours were about to be rewarded with a precious championship point after Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez came to blows ahead of him.

With Perez out of the race and Raikkonen now behind H?lkenberg after an emergency pit stop, the German driver was in the points going into the final lap of the race - only to end up missing out just a minute later.

"We couldn't expect any miracles today ... We just lacked speed throughout the race," H?lkenberg signed after being annihilated by an unstoppable Lotus in the last run through Ste Devote at the start of the final lap.

"It's a shame, as that point would have been ours," he said.

"We are disappointed with the result today," agreed Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. "We were in a position to score points.

"The first safety car period compromised our strategy, but the most surprising thing for us was that we couldn't gain an advantage with our choice of tyres for the re-start. Although Nico was on soft tyres (the harder compound), the degradation was higher than that of our competitors who were on super softs."

H?lkenberg agreed that his fortunes had largely been dictated throughout by his tyres, with the last set leaving him no match for the just-pitted Lotus.

"Unlike most of the other drivers, I started on soft tyres at the re-start, which was okay in the beginning," he explained. "But after another safety car, the tyres never came back to life again. The rears especially degraded a lot. When I got out of the car I could see the steel belt, so it's no wonder the pace wasn't good enough any more."

"The degradation was too high, and the overall pace was not quick enough to score points," agreed Tom McCullough, Sauber's head of track engineering. "Ultimately the car was quite hard on its tyres."

That left H?lkenberg crossing the line in 11th place, only a little over a tenth ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas who was in turn less than a second ahead of H?lkenberg's Sauber team mate Esteban Guti?rrez.

"It was difficult to overtake in the race today," contributed Bottas. "Even though sometimes we felt like we had the pace, we couldn't make the moves we wanted. There was a lot of action in an eventful race so I was happy to bring the car home."

Guti?rrez was similarly putting safety first in Monte Carlo, after having recently been in the team's bad books.

"It was very challenging to bring the car back home without any scratches or a crash," he said. "We couldn't expect to score points, but I did my best to use every opportunity I had to gain positions. Nevertheless, it was also important to not go over the limit and finish the race.

"It was tough with Williams in front and Lotus behind," he added.



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