Lewis Hamilton’s masterful drive extended his championship lead to 17 points, as he fended off Max Verstappen for 66 laps despite problems with his tyres.
Pitting on lap 12 due to a safety car, Mercedes put the medium tyre on both cars with others on the hard, yet left Hamilton fighting for grip as he drove 16 more laps on his compound than what they are projected to do.
Due to such struggle, the 5-time World Champion was left anxious and complaining over team radio regarding his tyres, as Verstappen was constantly within a second of Hamilton’s car.
However, like Daniel Ricciardo in 2018, the narrowness of Monaco came to the championship leader’s aid as the Dutchman struggled to find an opening, which caused a desperate lunge at turn ten with two laps to go.
In a now or never moment to save his podium, Verstappen attempted the overtake in which he then locked up to clip Hamilton.
But, both came out unscathed as the Mercedes took the escape road cutting the chicane but left Verstappen without a podium.
Although he crossed the line in second, an unsafe release from the pits dampened his afternoon as he dropped to fourth following a five second penalty.
With all the front runners pitting on lap 12, as Verstappen left his stop he made contact with Bottas, to then inch ahead of the Fin as they left the lane.
However, this resulted in a tyre puncture for the Mercedes thus causing Bottas to pit a lap later, but this time opting for the hard tyre, leaving only Hamilton of the front runners on the struggling medium.
Despite their run of one-twos reaching its end, due to Sebastian Vettel in second, Mercedes still extended their lead in the Constructor’s Championship in a positive weekend for the Silver Arrows.
Brilliance from Hamilton
Due to debris from Leclerc’s puncture on lap 11, following his attempted overtake on Nico Hulkenberg, a safety car was deployed.
Most drivers opted to pit and from that point onwards, it was a tyre management strategy for Hamilton.
Soon after his pit, the Brit decided to drive at a reduced pace around the track in an attempt to save his tyres, whist keeping the cars behind bunched up making it more difficult to overtake.
He was even matching the pace of backmarkers at one point during the race.
Due to the tyre problem, the complaints from the leader were a constant and it looked as though Verstappen may end up pouncing on the struggling Mercedes, with Hamilton even saying at one point that it would take a “miracle” to win the race.
However, that “miracle” happened largely due to the sheer ability of the reigning World Champion.
But, not only is it unclear to fans as to why they opted for the medium, but also Hamilton as one complaint expressed confusion over the decision to put on medium tyres.
However, it was then simple in the strategy from Mercedes. Pit and Hamilton will not win the race, but keep him out and he may end up victorious.
Yet they opted to keep him out and the race was won, due to terrific tyre management and defensive work from Hamilton to keep Verstappen at bay.
A performance worthy of a five-time World Champion, extending his championship lead over Bottas to 17 points.
A positive weekend for Honda
Following McLaren’s struggle with Honda for a few seasons, many doubted the ability and the reliance of the engine should other teams opt to use it.
Yet, Red Bull took no notice and signed a deal to partner with Honda on both their teams. Toro Rosso started in 2018, with Red Bull currently in their first year using Honda engines.
And what a decision it seems to have been with Red Bull yet to experience any reliability issues with the engine, the contrast of what was a constant in their partnership with Renault.
By round 6 of the 2018 season, Red Bull had already experienced four DNFs with Monaco only a victory due to Ricciardo’s skill despite the power unit issue. Yet, now six rounds into the 2019 season and Red Bull are yet to experience a DNF with Honda showing much more reliability than the Renault engine.
And a double point finish for both Honda teams in Monaco will only improve the relationship, as they are yet to make a mistake in their new Formula One partnership.
A brave and tremendous decision to switch from Renault to Honda for Red Bull.
Still with a perfect win record in 2019, Mercedes will arrive in Canada as the favourites especially with Lewis Hamilton as their driver. Already with six wins in Canada, he just needs one more victory to tie Michael Schumacher’s record of seven around Montreal. But, with Ferrari and Vettel victorious there in 2018, then all is still to be played for.