It was arguably one of the best performances of his career! It was a drive that would have made three-time world champion and Non-Executive Chairman at Mercedes, the late-great Niki Lauda hugely proud! It was a gutsy, tough, strong drive which enabled Lewis Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a third time, and allow him to take a relatively firm grip on the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to Montreal in Canada, and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the seventh round of 21.
Hamilton (137 points) leads the championship by 17 points for Mercedes over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (120 points) after a champion-like drive on the streets of Monaco, putting together his best lap at the right time to claim pole position, and then holding off Max Verstappen, who had a five-second time penalty hanging over him for an unsafe release into Bottas in the pit stop under safety car conditions, on the medium-compound tyres to take a memorable race victory dedicated to Lauda.
Meanwhile, Bottas had some troubles of his own after pitting under safety car conditions on Lap 11 for medium-compound tyres, and having his tyres punctured after Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas in the pit lane, forcing Bottas to pit again, this time for hard-compound tyres, and losing track position, coming back out in fourth behind Hamilton, Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel, and while he was able to gain a place after the race due to Verstappen’s penalty, he was unable to pass Vettel, and for the first time in 2019, Mercedes weren’t able to finish first and second. It is a huge blow for his championship challenge against Hamilton, although largely not his fault, but you sense he needs to respond in Canada against his teammate who has now got all the momentum!
Vettel (82 points) is third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing second in Monaco in what was an underrated drive, but the championship hopes for Vettel are largely up in smoke, and they will need improvements fast just to get close to Mercedes on a consistent basis.
Verstappen (78 points) is fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth after his five-second time penalty despite putting in a sterling drive, applying extreme pressure on Hamilton on the more ideal hard-compound tyres, but despite a late attempt heading into the Nouvelle Chicane, was unable to pass the five-time world champion, and therefore unable to gain enough time to remain on the podium, or drive away and win the Monaco Grand Prix in what was his best drive of the season.
Charles Leclerc (57 points) is fifth in the standings for Ferrari after a horrible weekend, failing to get out of the first part of qualifying after a tactical error from Ferrari, and in the race as he took a hero or zero approach, after a few great overtakes, he collided into Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg into La Rascasse on Lap Nine, damaging his car extensively as he tried to take his car back to the pits after a tyre puncture that became apparent on the following lap, and his race was effectively over at this point.
In his situation, while you could understand his desperation to get back to the front, patience might have been the better part of valour, something which he has learnt the hard way here, and you sense has now made him the clear second driver at Ferrari going forward into the rest of 2019.
Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (32 points) is sixth in the world championship after finishing fifth in Monaco, ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), who finished in sixth on the streets of the principality, while Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), Sergio Pérez (13 points) of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Kimi Räikkönen (13 points) of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari complete the Top 10 in the standings after finishing outside the points in Monaco.
Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (257 points) have a dominant 118 point lead over Ferrari (139 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (110 points) closing in on Ferrari in third. Then, it is slim pickings for McLaren-Renault (30 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (16 points), Renault (14 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and unfortunately no points as of yet for Williams-Mercedes in 2019.
So, who will win the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix?
You feel like this should be one of Ferrari’s best chances of halting the winning run of Mercedes, due to the straight-line speed advantage Ferrari have had, but Mercedes are on such a crest of a wave right now, and I think Lewis Hamilton’s win in Monaco, especially in the way it was done, will give him such a boost, and given Hamilton has won six of the 11 races he has competed in at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he is going to be such a hard man to beat this weekend!