Hamilton clings onto Monaco win under intense Verstappen pressure
Lewis Hamilton fought off race-long pressure from Max Verstappen to win a tense Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton managed to eke out unlikely life from medium tyres to cling onto his fourth win of the season, despite Verstappen crawling all over his gearbox for much of the contest and making contact late in the race.
Verstappen was bumped off the podium as a result of a five-second penalty taken for an unsafe release in the pits which had put him ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The Red Bull dropped to fourth, with Sebastian Vettel taking second and Bottas third.
Having lapped regularly within a second of Hamilton, Verstappen made a dive down the inside of the Mercedes man with three laps to go, with contact between them fortunately not costing either driver.
Hamilton spent much of the second half of the race lambasting his team for fitting mediums when pitting under a safety car brought on by Charles Leclerc's retirement, with his rivals each on a hard compound which comfortably made it to the end.
By contrast Hamilton's front tyres looked a moody shade of darkened grey after being worn down hard by Verstappen's incessant challenge behind him.
Although Verstappen was challenged by Red Bull to make a move on Hamilton and try to open up a gap that would have negated his penalty, the chance never materialised on Monaco's notoriously narrow streets as the reigning world champion managed to cling on through enough of the lap to keep position.
Having started 15th, Leclerc made up three places in the opening stages, including a bold pass at La Rascasse on Romain Grosjean, but a repeat attempt on Nico Hulkenberg saw him hit the barriers and puncture his right-rear tyre, with the subsequent trip back to the pits causing significant floor damage and forcing him out after 18 laps.
Despite his fury in the race, Hamilton's victory puts him 17 points clear of Bottas in the standings, with Mercedes' run of one-two finishes finally ending, although their dominance remained in place for much of the weekend.
Victory will have tasted a touch sweeter in the Silver Arrows' garage as it came at the end of a difficult week which began with the passing of their non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Lauda was tribute with a minute's silence pre-race, while Hamilton wore a helmet coloured with the Austrian's signature design and his victory served as another tribute to the man who played a crucial role in taking him to the team in 2013.
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