Hamilton holds off penalised Verstappen in tense nail-biter

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has held off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to win the race in Monte Carlo.

Lewis Hamilton has claimed victory in Monte Carlo, having led the race throughout. However, the race wasn’t an easy for him as he had to fend off the attentions of Max Verstappen for the majority of the race.

Having held the lead off the start line, Hamilton led from teammate Valtteri Bottas, Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel but an early Safety Car threw a spanner in the works. This Safety Car was caused by debris all over the circuit when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s car was damaged and spewed carbin fibre everywhere. Pitting under the Safety Car, Hamilton took on the Medium tyre but Verstappen and Vettel opted for the Hard tyre. Valtteri Bottas also went for the Mediums but, while racing Verstappen out of the pitlane, got a puncture that resulted in him pitting again just a lap later to swap to the Hards.

Resuming after the Safety Car, Hamilton led from Verstappen, Vettel and Bottas but wasn’t able to pull away. As the race continued, it became clear the Hard tyre was the better compound to be on as Verstappen applied the pressure. Crucially, Verstappen was given a five second penalty for the unsafe pit release that gave Bottas his penalty, meaning that he had to find a way past Hamilton to have any chance of even finishing on the podium.

While Verstappen applied the pressure, it was evident that he was quicker through the twistier parts of the circuit but couldn’t get close through the potential overtaking spots into Ste. Devote or the chicane. He got close in the braking zone for the chicane once, on Lap 76, with the right front tyre of Verstappen touching the left rear of Hamilton. Both got away with it, and they were able to continue in the same positions.

Two laps later, Hamilton crossed the line just clear of Verstappen, who was demoted to P4 as a result of his time penalty. Vettel, who finished P3 on track, was promoted to P2, with Valtteri Bottas moved up to P3.

Behind Verstappen, Pierre Gasly finished P5 in the second Red Bull and he also claimed the fastest lap point after a late second stop for fresh Soft tyres. Carlos Sainz was P6 for McLaren, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon for Toro Rosso. Daniel Ricciardo finished P9 for Renault, with Romain Grosjean finishing P10 for Haas. Grosjean picked up a five second time penalty during the race for crossing the white line exiting the pits, added to his race time.

Developing report. More to follow.

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Thomas Maher

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