Hamilton pips Bottas to Monaco pole position

Monday, 27 May, 2019

Lewis Hamilton said he owed his status as a five-time world champion to Niki Lauda after dedicating his 85th pole position to him yesterday at the Monaco Grand Prix. Vettel came back out to set the lap he needed to progress to Q2, but in doing so eliminated Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who had been left in the garage despite also being in a precarious position on the timing screens. Meanwhile, the Finn is now 17 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton - but there are still 15 races to go. "Ultimately as an athlete you want the toughest battles when they come".

Bottas started second but his collision with Verstappen forced him into an unplanned pit stop and he was unable to make headway after slipping to fourth. As a driver my goal is to be one day as respected as he was.

Further tributes were to be held for Lauda with a minute's silence at 2:53 p.m.

Fittingly, Verstappen drove brilliantly, too, considering he was not just chasing Hamilton but also competing against his time penalty.

Talking to reporters after his all-time record lap of the Mediterranean street circuit, Hamilton recalled that it was the three-time champion Austrian, who was non-executive director of Mercedes, who persuaded him to leave McLaren for Mercedes in 2012.

The "miracle", with Hamilton wearing a retro red helmet sporting Lauda's name and colours while the vehicle carried a variety of tributes, duly happened as if by the late champion's celestial command.

As he climbed out of the vehicle after winning, Hamilton removed his race helmet and pointed to Lauda's name on the back.

"To have a little bit of a cloud over us this weekend and really trying to lift every one up and deliver for Niki".

"It's disappointing to be out in Q1 in a Ferrari but even more so at home and even more on a track like this where you can't overtake", said the youngster. "The pace isn't there".

Although his vehicle was repaired in time for qualifying, Vettel only scrapped out of Q1 with a last-ditch lap that ironically knocked out his team-mate Charles Leclerc. People called it a death wish, but it was just about removing the bad bits because they come back when you stop the auto.

Still, he vaulted past Verstappen into third in the season standings. "A very hard one to take".

"Front left's gone", he told Ferrari before apologising. He said the team had assured him there was nothing to worry about.

It gave him a rear-right puncture and brought out the safety auto, and - after being held up following a collision between Giovinazzi and Robert Kubica and pitting again - he was forced to retire on lap 18.

Pierre Gasly was fifth for Red Bull with Carlos Sainz sixth, Daniil Kvyat seventh and Alexander Albon eighth. Hamilton has 137 to 120 for Bottas, with Vettel moving up to third place on 82.

But one lap later the driver from Monaco tried the same move on Hulkenberg and it backfired. "I didn't understand why we weren't going out again". "It's a weekend to forget apart from the support which I received here, which was heart-warming".

"At the end, the driver made the difference and won us the race".

William Byron starts up front at the Coca-Cola 600 after becoming, at 21 years old, the youngest driver to capture the pole for NASCAR's longest race.