Lewis Hamilton has secured pole position for the Formula One cult race with a “wonderful” lap in the course record time.
Stable rival Valtteri Bottas demonstrated in second place the determination of the Silver Arrows to continue the historic double-success story with a triumph at the Monaco Grand Prix following the death of team supervisor Niki Lauda in the spirit of the ever-pragmatic Austrian.
“This is the race that everyone wants to win. That means so much to me, “said Hamilton, whose Mercedes, like Bottas's in qualifying, wore a red cockpit protector in Lauda's honor:” This is one of the most beautiful pole positions I can remember. The week was not easy. »
Challenger Ferrari experienced with Sebastian Vettel in fourth place and the annoyed local hero Charles Leclerc in 16th place another disaster. “There was nothing more,” said Vettel. “I tried everything.”
After he had already demolished the front end of his Ferrari in training in the morning when he was braking in turn one, he easily grazed the crash barriers in the crucial round. Vettel's lagging behind Hamilton's 1: 10.116 minutes: over seven-tenths of a second. In front of the 31-year-old four-time world champion and two-time Monaco winner also the Dutch Max Verstappen pushed in the Red Bull. Behind Vettel joined his French team-mate Pierre Gasly.
Nico Hülkenberg was eliminated in the Renault as eleventh before the decisive passage. Kimi Raikkonen also missed the top ten in his 300th Grand Prix participation. The 39-year-old Finn finished in 14th place.
But all of them landed before Leclerc. Instead of sending out the 21-year-old Monegassen in the first elimination of time as Vettel again, the Scuderia made in the first round a serious strategic mistake. “I have no idea,” Leclerc quarreled. “The strategy was to go out again. I also do not know why we did not do that, “he said, requesting explanations from the team. In the fight against Mercedes missing the local hero to exercise with various racing tactics, if necessary, pressure.
However, Vettel almost caught it at the beginning: He was only 17 minutes before the end of the time. One lap remained for the Heppenheimer, who had to drive unplanned into the pit after a slight guard rail contact. At least there, he raced nervously to provisional first place – catapulting his team-mate Leclerc out. From the Mercedes duo Vettel was but Formula 1 worlds away when it really mattered.
“Niki would have wanted us to go out and drive,” said Hamilton, who lost a friend in the 70-year-old three-time world champion. Lauda had died on Monday.
And so Hamilton drove after the opening race in Australia for the second time this season the pole. In the career of the five-time champion from Britain, it was the 85th; He and his Finnish team-mate Bottas also laid the foundation for another double success with the first row in the grid.
In the previous five races of the season, the two made each of the first two places under each other. In the classification defending champion Hamilton has seven points more than Bottas before the race this Sunday (15.10 / RTL and Sky), Verstappen is also third here, lag 46 points. Vettel is 48 counters back.