THIS WAS ONE'S FOR NICKI
Lewis Hamilton secured P1 at the Monaco Grand Prix dedicating the " hardest race of my career" to Niki Lauda
Lewis has claimed that he felt "immense" pressure during the Monaco GP trying to keep Max Verstappen at bay whilst running nearly three quarters of the race on the wrong tyres. Lewis's Mercedes had been fitted with the medium compound but the team soon discovered the tyre choice had been wrong whilst a struggling Lewis attempted to complete 67 laps on tyres expected to only do 50 laps!
Radio conversations between Lewis and the pitwall showed Lewis's frustration as he complained about the tyre choice
After the race Lewis told reporters that he was "determined not to crack. There was every opportunity to crack today particularly with that pressure, and I was just determined to not crack," he said.
The Monaco Grand Prix, the first race since the sad passing of legend Niki Lauda was an emotional race for the whole team speaking at a press conference, Hamilton said the tragic events of the weekend made it a particularly special achievement for Mercedes.
"This is definitely one of the best poles I can remember," said Hamilton. "Obviously we've had lots of success over the years but I can't really remember one that means as much as this one, seeing as it's been such a difficult week for the whole team. And personally it's been quite a difficult weekend. We've been really trying to hold each other up and deliver for Niki."
Lewis Hamilton Today was one of the hardest races of my career, it was so intense. With 20 laps left I thought there was no way I was going to make it to the end. I thought I was going to crash, I was battling so much with the car. There was absolutely nothing left in the tyres and it was so tough to keep the car on the track. I thought to myself, 'what would Niki do'. I was trying my hardest - giving everything I had. I just tried to stay focused and make no mistakes. I know he was watching me today, but with Niki by my side we managed to do it. I wore his helmet colours today and I didn't want to let him down. He was close to my heart, I really wanted to deliver for him this weekend and I was determined not to crack under the pressure. Today belongs to Niki.
Valtteri Bottas My race was decided in the pits. We did a double-stacked pit stop under the Safety Car, Lewis first, then me. Vettel and Verstappen came in as well and when I left the pits, Max was released at the same time and was side-by-side with me. We touched, I hit the wall because there's no space to go and I got a right-front puncture. So I had to do another pit stop the following lap. At that point, I thought I'd be at the end of the field, but I only lost a couple of places, so I guess I was unlucky but lucky at the same time. It's always disappointing if you finish the race lower than you qualified; however, my pace was really good all weekend long and I still scored valuable points for me and the team. One of my first thoughts this morning was that I wanted to drive well for Niki, I wanted to win for him. Ultimately, I didn't, but Lewis did, so I'm sure Niki would be proud right now.
Toto Wolff That result means a lot. It was a World Champions' drive for a World Champion that isn't among us anymore. It couldn't have been a more dramatic race, so I am relieved it is over. Lewis did an incredible job out there, it was a really hard-fought race with Max. We know the tyre choice, in hindsight, was wrong with Lewis and we should've taken the Hard tyre at his stop. But, these things happen and at the time we thought the Medium was the right call. It was the driver who made the difference and managed the race. Valtteri had a tougher time, losing ground with the pit stops and the clash with Verstappen in the pit lane, but he did a great job and will be determined to fight back. This one was a really hard-fought victory and now we have a couple of days that are going to be difficult with Niki's funeral in Vienna before we set sail for Canada.