Usually, the Monaco Grand Prix in the recent past has been unentertaining for the fans. The narrow streets of Monaco not only leave no room for error, but they also leave no room for overtaking either. Overtaking in Monaco is tremendously rare, however not impossible.
While some of that played in reigning and defending champion’s favour, Lewis Hamilton has won the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix with a champion’s worthy drive that seemed like a losing battle at first.
The 78 lap race began with all eyes on the back half of the grid, at the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc who was racing in his home Grand Prix after a terrible qualifying on Saturday was staring in 15th. While it was his time to prove his mettle when it mattered to bring the Ferrari home with some much-needed points for the team, Leclerc’s inexperience showed as the over-eager young 21-year-old although made some progress in the opening laps, a mistake cost him dearly. Trying to pass Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault for 11th at Rascasse, Leclerc clipped the inside barrier with his rear right tyre causing a puncture dropping him right back down to the back. While Leclerc needed to show some patience to slowly drive the entire lap back to the pits, he neglected to slow down sufficiently causing irreparable damage to the floor of his car, also leaving a trail of debris on the track which summoned the safety car. Eventually, he pulled into the pits to become the sole retiree from the race.
The safety car allowed the pit window to open up with Hamilton pitting from the lead, but was followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas in another Mercedes double stacker. Along with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
The fate of Verstappen seemed to have been decided in the pit lane itself after an unsafe release by Red Bull brought Verstappen out right into Bottas’s path and caused a puncture for the Finn with Vettel spectating from behind the two drivers. Bottas was forced to box the following lap, still under safety car conditions, which dropped him down behind Vettel. Verstappen was awarded a lenient five-second stop-go penalty which could be added to the final race time if he wouldn’t pit, but all four drivers from there on were looking to haul it to the end of the race.
When the race resumed with around 60 laps still left, Verstappen was breathing down the defending champion’s neck to get ahead and create a gap over Hamilton of over five seconds to win the race, or at least enough to remain in a podium spot. With Verstappen being the unstoppable force, Lewis Hamilton was the immovable object. The Dutchman attacked Hamilton till the very final moment in the race, and the Brit defending his position superbly every lap till the end. On lap 76, Verstappen got close enough to make a pass on Hamilton into the Nouvelle Chicane, but Hamilton closed the door, Verstappen locked up and both drivers touched wheels. Both drivers came out unscathed from the incident and Hamilton went on to win the race.
With Verstappen right behind him, his penalty dropped him down to behind Vettel and Bottas to fourth, while the German finished second, and Bottas settled for third.
The race was a commendable one for Honda-powered cars as all four cars finished in the top ten. Verstappen in fourth lead team-mate Piere Gasly in fifth for Red Bull, as Carlos Sainz finished sixth for McLaren ahead of the two Honda-powered Torro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon in seventh and eighth. Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth for Renault and Romain Grosjean claiming the final championship point in 10th.
The rest of the field saw Lando Norris finish 11th, Kevin Magnussen 12th, Sergio Perez 13th, Nico Hulkenberg 14th, with George Russel in 15th, Lance Stroll in 16th, Kimi Raikkonen 17th with Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi finishing up the order.
Hamilton now leads the championship over Bottas with a gap of 17 points after six rounds. The next round will be the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit-Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal scheduled from June 7-9.