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Mercedes limits damage: Hamilton defends championship lead

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Mercedes is getting away with it with a black eye
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M onte Carlo no longer likes Mercedes . Last year the Silver Arrows were only the third force in the principality. The showcase race on the calendar was one of the worst of the season with places 4 and 7. Also this year, Red Bull and Ferrari had faster cars in city traffic. But Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas brought third and fifth, 7 points more than 2017 from the Principality. 'If you only have the third-fastest car and almost finish second, you have to be satisfied,' said Lewis Hamilton, saying the result nicely.

Why Mercedes is no longer so strong in Monte Carlo with its wide cars and wide tires is like in the years 2014 to 2016, nobody can say. Is it the long wheelbase, the aerodynamic concept, the mechanical balance of the car? “With all the science that we do in the team, we don't know why we don't make it into the corners on street circuits,” admitted team boss Toto Wolff. Hamilton assisted: “We got the maximum out of this weekend and only lost three points to Vettel. That shows how well our team works. ”

Hamilton and Wolff speak of a real three-way battle that is now breaking out for the title. 'Red Bull and Daniel are among them,' said Hamilton. In comparison, the defending champion estimates Vettel and Ferrari as the stronger opponent. “Ferrari has a good car on all tracks. It was to be expected that Red Bull would be superior in Monte Carlo. But they have greater fluctuations. But if they can still find power from the engine, they can be really dangerous. ”

Hamilton's tires flew over his ears

Mercedes was rightly worried about them before the race in Monte Carlo Tires. With Lewis Hamilton, the first set of Hypersoft began to collapse after just a few laps. In the 12th lap, the engineers pulled the rip cord. “The tires were too grainy. You were finished. We had to bring Lewis in before Ferrari tried to do an undercut with Kimi, ”said the strategists. Hamilton could hardly believe it: “I never really put pressure on because I knew about the problems with the front tires. Although I drove slowly, the tires were grainy. ”

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Hamilton operated damage control in Monte Carlo.

Mercedes gave its world champion a set of ultrasoft rubbers for the long travel. Hamilton could not imagine finishing the race with it. “After 20 laps, the engineers said: You still have to do 48 laps. No way, I replied. I had to manage my tires the whole time. ”During his pit stop, Hamilton would have gotten a better set of Supersoft than his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. “The tire didn't look good on Thursday. I was surprised myself how well it went on Sunday, ”said Bottas. “It was the best of the three tires for the race. Unfortunately, I was stuck behind Kimi. Otherwise I would have been able to drive one and a half seconds faster per lap. ”

At Hamilton, the strategists didn't make this move. The Englishman had described this type of tire as 'dangerous' on Thursday, as little grip as the supersofts provided. But during the race the asphalt was 8 degrees cooler. And there was more and more rubber on the track. That suited the hardest tire on offer. “We were worried that the Supersoft would take too long to get up to temperature. Because we didn't want to fall behind Raikkonen, we gave Lewis the softer mix. ”

Hamilton waited for a surprise in vain

Hamilton complained about 78 lonely laps. Initially, the Englishman was stuck in the express train behind Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo drove as fast as he had to at the beginning and later, when the MGU-K got out of him, as fast as he could. When Ricciardo picked up the pace briefly after the pit stops, Hamilton fell back to 9.5 seconds. Again the world champion drove like on raw eggs to control the grain as much as possible. 20 laps later it was his turn again. The man at the top had to do without 163 hp. The moderate pace also forced Ricciardo's pursuers to slow down.

Hamilton always believed in his chance of victory. “I told myself that something was going to happen. Unlock so you can benefit when the time comes. ”Hamilton waited in vain. Attacking Vettel was pointless. Ferrari had the faster car. In the last 20 laps the gap widened again. Valtteri Bottas could have become a hero with his supersoft tires, but he saw the whole thingRace long into the exhaust of Raikkonen. “Twice I had the feeling that I should try it on the home straight. But Kimi didn't make any mistakes. The Ferrari came out of the last corner well, and at the end of the home straight it's relatively easy to keep the door closed because the track is so narrow there. '

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