Monaco Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton says that his Monte Carlo pole position is ‘for Niki’ as Mercedes mourn the loss of their chairman.
On a weekend where the two Mercedes drivers are racing under the cloud of the death of their chairman, former World Champion Niki Lauda, the scrap for pole position turned into an intra-team affair. Valtteri Bottas initially took pole position in Q3 but a late flyer from Lewis Hamilton saw him put in a 1:10.116 to clinch the pole by just 0.086 over the Finn.
“This is definitely one of the best poles I can remember.” said Hamilton, beaming afterwards in the press conference. “Obviously, we’ve had a lot of success over the years but I can’t really remember one that means as much as this one. It’s been a really difficult week for the entire team and for me, personally, it’s been a difficult weekend.”
“The goal this weekend was always to get pole as it’s such a difficult circuit. It’s amazing that we’ve turned up as a team and taking strides forward collectively and get strong and improving our performance weekend in, weekend out. I’m so proud of everyone, but to have a little bit of cloud over us this weekend meant we really really tried to lift each other up and deliver for Niki.”
Praising his teammate Bottas for providing a stern challenge, Hamilton said that he had lost his own way a little over the course of changes made before FP3 but managed to get it sorted out in time for qualifying: “Valtteri has been a sensational job all weekend. FP1 & FP2 was good for me and then for me in FP3, it didn’t feel as good as on Thursday. I had to dig deep and turn the car around and valtteri did a great flying lap first time out. I was struggling to get the first laptime on the tyres so I did a prep lap for my first lap and the second run wasn’t very good. Naturally, I had to gain two tenths because Valtteri was ahead and I thought Valtteri would be up. I was throwing the car around, and I’m pretty sure I touched a few barriers on the way around. But that’s the only way to do it around Monaco. I haven’t had a huge amount of success here over the years so it’s never given me quite the perfect lap but this was as close as I could get to it. This one is for Niki.”
Explaining about how he approached the session, he said that he had to ‘dig deep’: “We’re professionals and we get in and do what we love doing. Niki would want us to get in and would always say ‘give it arseholes’ – that’s what he said all the time. We’re trying to walk around and hold each other up and do him proud. So far, hopefully we are and we’re hoping to do something special tomorrow. Max [Verstappen] has been really quick all weekend so anything can happen. We need to do a good job tomorrow but there’s no better place to start.”