Mika Hakkinen: We will miss LaudaMay 29, 2019
Two-time champion Mika Hakkinen in his column summarized the results of the Grand Prix of Monaco, commenting on the performance of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen …
Mika Hakkinen: “Winning in Monaco is always nice, but Lewis Hamilton was really happy after winning a tense race. He had to use all his experience to stay ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing, and although he brought Mercedes the sixth victory in a row, you can’t call it easy.
This Hamilton victory reminded some of the famous victories of one of the most talented riders and strategist with an analytical mindset – Niki Lauda. His departure from life is a huge loss for our sport, he was not only one of the leaders of the Mercedes team, Lauda brought wisdom, experience and outstanding character to Formula 1. It is not surprising that during the days of the race weekend everyone was talking about Niki, he continues to be remembered before the funeral in Vienna this Wednesday. Sport needs its own heroes and superstars, and Niki was one of those.
He won his last victory in the 1985 Grand Prix of Holland, defending himself against McLaren teammate Alain Prost’s attacks – he positioned the car so as to defend in corners and rip off at high-speed stretches. So Lewis acted last Sunday to keep Max behind.
When the safety car went out on the 11th lap, and everyone began to change tires, in Mercedes they put Medium tires on both drivers. Usually these tires withstand 50 laps, but Mercedes hoped that they would be enough for a longer stretch, and it could rain.
As a result, Lewis had to drive on 65 laps, each of them – 2-3 seconds slower than before. On worn tires, you need to brake, turn and accelerate very carefully – it is not surprising that Lewis was genuinely worried about being overtaken or having any problems. He acted in the style of Niki Lauda and did exactly what he needed, positioning the car in the middle of the track to defend against Verstappen, and came off at the two fastest sections – on the main straight line and in the tunnel under the Fairmont hotel. This performance is a mature rider, for this victory, Lewis really had to fight.
The track in Monaco perfectly suited the cars of Mercedes, which should cause concern to their rivals, because usually on slow tracks with numerous turns, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing were faster. But for the pole fought Lewis and Valtteri. It seemed that Bottas could not show the best time only because on the warm-up lap in the final qualification he was stuck behind slower machines.
Valtteri again showed his strength at the beginning of the race, when Max tried to get ahead of him in the first turn – the Mercedes driver defended himself well and kept the second place behind his partner. It is a pity that then Verstappen crashed into the Valtteri car in the pit lane, otherwise Bottas would certainly have kept second place. Because of this incident, Valtteri lost a lot of time, he had to make a second pit stop, and he came back behind Vettel.
I can not blame Max in the incident, but when the team unsafely releases the rider on the track, he must avoid a collision. He was lucky that the stewards were limited to only a five-second penalty.
It was great to watch how Max pressed Lewis on the last 20 laps of the race, and Sebastian rode behind and waited for developments. Max did everything he could, and it’s great that he still tried to overtake Lewis. He entertained the audience, but Hamilton still remained ahead.
Ferrari need to make conclusions after the Grand Prix of Monaco – this weekend both drivers made mistakes: Sebastian crashed the car in training, and Charles missed the weigh-in in the qualification. Probably, it was hard for him to accept the mistake of the team, because of which he stayed in the pits and saw how his partner prevented him from going to the second session. I still believe that the day Ferrari one day will come and we will see the victory of Sebastian and Charles. But for this the team needs to do everything right.
Since Max dropped to fourth place due to a five-second penalty, it’s nice that Valtteri joined Sebastian and Lewis at the awards ceremony. That weekend both champions updated their helmet designs in memory of Niki Laud. I think Niki would love this race. All of us will miss him. ”
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