Lewis Hamilton had to be content with third place in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. It’s not what he would have wanted – but as a piece of damage limitation, it was as good as he could have hoped for as he notched up his 31st consecutive finish in the points.
“[Red Bull] did a great job this weekend,” he said after Daniel Ricciardo claimed a famous maiden victory at the venue. “Ultimately they were quickest all weekend and we knew that would be the case.
“Really happy for Daniel. He did a great job. Winning your first Monaco Grand Prix is always special no matter what the circumstances are.
“He was so close two years ago, so it’s good for him to have it. Maybe I’ll see him out tonight!” he chuckled.
Hamilton struggled with tyre degradation for much of the afternoon, his frustration clearly audible over the team radio. It left him unable to challenge for the lead, or even to beat Sebastian Vettel to second place.
“It would have been nice to be second, but I did everything I could,” he said. “It honestly wasn’t that difficult a race – just pootling around in third place.”
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The front runners all started on Pirelli’s new pink hypersoft compound, which was making its début at Monaco. Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit to exchange them for a set of ultras.
It wasn’t long before he was worried about graining on these tyres as well, meaning that he had to spend the rest of the race driving conservatively.
“We were probably just cruising around from lap six, maybe,” he said. “Literally cruising. So it wasn’t really racing.
“To make the tyres go long, it was thought they wouldn’t go as long as they did, but they did – they obviously kept going but the grip was really poor.”
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Asked why Mercedes had suffered so badly on tyres compared to their rivals, Hamilton said it was down to the basic chassis design.
“The Red Bull I think it’s the shortest car. It’s a lot shorter than ours. They’ve got a lot of downforce in slow speed corners.
“Ultimately we were turned down and just cruising around to make sure we got to the end. I don’t know if that was exciting for you guys to watch. If it is, no problem.”
The hypersoft tyre will be back again for the next race in Canada, so the team will be analysing the Monaco data in preparation.
“I have no idea if it will be more or less in Montreal. I don’t know. I guess there’s less hard core corners so probably it will go a little bit further.”
Hamilton admitted that the Montreal could be another circuit that will favour their rivals.
“[Red Bull] should be quite good. I think the Ferrari is going to be particularly quick. They seem to be really quite quick everywhere.”
While the racing is tighter than ever this year, Hamilton can take consolation in the fact that he still leads the drivers championship by 14 points. Last year at the same point, he was 25 points behind Vettel.
“I lost three points to Sebastian, which is really the main point [this weekend],” he said. “To only have it only three points and not more, I’m grateful. The team did a great job all weekend.”
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