Lewis Hamilton says he was fighting in the style of the late Niki Lauda to hold on for victory in the Monaco Grand Prix.
An early pit stop during a safety car period saw Hamilton fit medium tires while the rest of the top four all opted for hards. On a softer compound, Hamilton had to try and make his tires last to the end of the race and was forced to hold off Max Verstappen for a number of laps — with the pair even making contact in the closing stages — and he says it was the most challenging race of his career, coming just six days after Lauda passed away.
“That was definitely the hardest race I’ve had but nonetheless I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki — he’s been such an influence in our team and I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off,” Hamilton said. “I was trying to stay focused and make him proud that it’s been the goal all week and we truly miss him.”
Hamilton added that the fight with Verstappen was a truly difficult one for him, despite how difficult it is to overtake in Monaco.
“It was intense. I was never going to come in — I learned the hard way,” he said, referencing the 2015 race in which a stop for fresh tires cost him track position and ultimately a shot at the win. “I wasn’t going to come in whether I crashed or finished. Ultimately it was the wrong tire. But the team has done an incredible job — I’m so proud to be a part of it and I hope I can continue to do well.
“It was close, it was a late dive by Max — if you look at my back tire we touched at the chicane; luckily I saw him last minute. I think his front wing was beside my rear wheel. I was scared that I had no tires left.”