Following the Spanish GP two weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton revealed that on five occasions he had a car good enough to win in Monaco, but had failed to do so.
“It depends purely on driving skill and courage behind the wheel. That what makes it so special for me,” says Hamilton about Monaco. He clearly sees it as a race weekend, where he should be doing well.
But if one of the newest of Monaco’s F1 residents is to turn his fortunes around at his home town GP, he will need to summon up his immense driving powers and go where he has never gone before. Lewis has never been quickest over the Saturday single lap shoot out in Monte Carlo, and his single win in eight attempts in the principality came from a rain affected race in 2008.
The British champion’s debut year in Monaco saw him pitted against Fernando Alonso, whom many believe to be the greatest driver of the current generation. The McLaren’s were dominant, and Lewis qualified second – a highly commendable 0.179s behind Alonso who claimed pole position.
On Sunday, the McLaren duo ran away with the race and in fact only Felipe Massa managed to remain on the same lap by the scruff of his neck – finishing third and almost 1m10s down on the leader.
In 2008, Hamilton was the best of the rest on Saturday behind two the dominant Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. On Sunday, the weather played a crucial role in shaking up the usual Monaco procession from lights out to chequered flag.
Sunday morning had seen intermittent showers soak the track, and another spell of rain just 20 minutes before the off, saw most drivers on the grid opt for the less severe of the available wet weather tyres.
When the lights went out, Hamilton brilliantly passed Raikkonen before St Devote, but made a mistake and collided with the barriers at Tabac on lap six. He returned to the pits for a check-up, was fitted with a new set of tyres and fuelled to go further into the race than originally planned.
Due to the gap the leaders had built quickly, Lewis emerged having just lost three places and was down to fifth.
Both Coulthard and Sebastian Bourdais lost control of their cars, hitting the barrier at Massenet – seconds apart on lap 8. This required the marshals to separate the cars before they could be removed from the circuit. The safety car was deployed.
Lewis gratefully closed a gap of over thirty seconds to the leader Massa over the three laps the safety controlled the race.
When the circuit went green, Massa again took off and a fuel heavy Hamilton fell quickly behind the leader on track. Kimi in second however was issued a drive through penalty for failing to have his tyres fitted on the grid before the three minute formation lap warning
Massa then misjudged St Devote and took to the escape road, handing Kubica the lead. Such was the gap from the leading two, Massa re-joined second and claimed the lead again when Kubica pitted on lap 26.
However, when Massa was forced to stop on lap 33, Hamilton emerged ahead of the Ferrari at the front of the race.
Lewis built up sufficient a lead over Massa to make his second stop and still return in the lead of the race. A late safety car didn’t affect matters at the business end of the field, though Lewis suffered a final lap puncture and limped home just three seconds ahead of Robert Kubica.
Lewis clocked up his first victory in Monaco in his second year in Formula One, and he won a race which is still remembered as a ‘stand out’ occasion when compared to the usual processions in the principality.
Here is Hamilton’s complete Monaco record
- 2007 Q2 – P2
- 2008 Q3 – P1
- 2009 Q15 – P12
- 2010 Q5 – P5
- 2011 Q9 – P6
- 2012 Q4 – P5
- 2013 Q2 – P4
- 2014 Q2 – P2
This qualifying record is hardly stellar by Hamilton’s own standards and his tally against team mates in Monaco stands at 3-5 against him.
By comparison, Lewis is one of an elite club of F1 drivers who have claimed five or more pole positions at one circuit.
- Schumacher – Suzuka (8), Barcelona (7), Hungaroring (7), Montreal (6), Sepang (5), Imola (5)
- Senna – Imola (8), Adelaide (6), Monza (5), Monaco (5)
- Fangio – Monza (5)
- Hamilton Shanghai (5)
The world champion will be desperate to top the time sheets on Saturday this year, putting him in the best position to win the Monaco GP.
During the last F1 weekend in Barcelona, there was paddock criticism for Lewis regarding his preparation.
Speaking to the Express, Damon Hill observes: “The impression Lewis gives is that he wants to enjoy his life – he has been successful and he wants to enjoy all the fruits of fame and that’s great. But his first task is to win races, that’s where everything comes from.
“What he has to do is work out what’s at stake. He is on target to become one of the most successful racing drivers.
“It’s whether you want to dedicate yourself to that task and play afterwards.”
Lewis appears to have responded to his critics and been head, down in terms of social media since Barcelona; his activity on twitter has more than halved.
The news today is that Lewis has signed a new three year deal with Mercedes reportedly worth £60m. £20m a year ‘basic remuneration’ , a figure previously reported by TJ13 amidst wild claims Hamilton would accept no less than £52m p.a. Bonus and performance payments will see this rise to a maximum of £25m.
The £20m a year, is reportedly less than the amounts both Alonso and Vettel are being guaranteed by Ferrari and McLaren.
Ahead of this weekends much awaited event, Lewis has played his first card in the team mate mind games. He informed the press in Barcelona he would be delivering his qualifying laps before Nico, though at present, showers are forecast for Saturday afternoon.