‘Bitter’ Red Bull slam Verstappen demotion
Max Verstappen drove 'like a lion' as he hunted down Lewis Hamilton in the dying laps of the Monaco GP, so when he punted from the podium hit back. RE-CAP THE RACE.
Hamilton, nursing worn tyres, provided a defensive masterclass to keep the Red Bull, on harder tyres, behind and came under his only real attack on the 76th lap when Verstappen attempted a move at the harbourside chicane.
The Red Bull dived down the inside, but the two cars made contact, with Hamilton going straight on before rejoining the track. The Englishman held on to win the race and extend his championship lead.
Stewards immediately put the incident under investigation, but ruled "no further action" was warranted.
"It was close," said Hamilton after taking victory. "A bit of a late dive, luckily I saw him last minute, but his front wing was alongside my rear wheels so he wasn't really pulling past.
"A light touch and we moved on.
"I was really fighting with the spirit of Niki," Hamilton said after the race. "I know he'd be looking down and he would take his hat off today.
"I was trying to keep my focus and make him proud ... we truly miss him."
Explaining their decision to impose no penalty, stewards said: 'The stewards considered that neither car was wholly or predominantly at fault for the collision and both drivers took appropriate action subsequently to mitigate the effects of the contact.'
The Red Bull driver finished second on the road but dropped to fourth in the final classification owing to an earlier five-second time penalty for an unsafe pit-stop release into the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Sebastian Vettel was promoted to second, with Bottas third.
"I gave it all today to try and get by Lewis," Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.
"I knew that of course he was on softer tyres and he was taking it very easy once we did the stop so I started to push him and he had to then increase his pace, and at one point he went a bit through his tyres so I could really start to attack him.
"But all of the time out of the tunnel, the problem is that you can't really get close enough out of the corner to really have a good go at it. I just tried to put the pressure on. The whole race, following that closely in the dirty air through the high-speed corners is not easy around here.
"I had a fun race. Of course I would have liked to be on the podium but if we look at the pace and performance we were strong."
RED BULL BITTER OVER DEMOTION
Red Bull team principal said Max Verstappen's demotion from podium to fourth place at the Monaco Grand Prix "was a bitter result" after the Dutchman drove such a sensational race.
Christian Horner praised his driver for "fighting like a lion" in his dogged pursuit of Lewis Hamilton which culminated in minor contact in the final laps.
While neither driver was penalized by stewards for coming together, there was a five-second grid penalty awaiting Verstappen once he'd crossed the line for an earlier unsafe release into the path of Valtteri Bottas in the pits.
It means the Red Bull driver was denied a podium and finished fourth in the standings.
"Unfortunately contact was made in the pits, and Max got the penalty," said Horner.
"It's tough for him because he drove a mighty race, he drove with all his heart, but P4 feels a little bit bitter after such a great drive.
"But it is what it is, the stewards made a decision that they thought was fair for them, and we have to accept that.
"His only chance was to pass Hamilton and pull out the five seconds.
"He deserved to be on the podium today.
"The encouraging thing is that the performance is right there, he was pushing, pushing, pushing.
"He fought like a lion, tried to make the pass on Lewis, and it was worth a go."
Mercedes have admitted making a strategy error by putting Lewis Hamilton on the wrong tyres at the Monaco GP, but praised their driver for masterfully overcoming that mistake to win F1's showpiece race.
Hamilton was fitted with medium tyres compared to his rivals' hards for his only stop, and then had to last 67 laps on the wearing compound while dealing with the increased threat of Max Verstappen.
"We knew that the tyre choice was the wrong one and in hindsight we would have taken the hard," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1. "We rarely make mistakes like this.
"In the end, the driver made the difference and won us the race."
The Mercedes boss later told reporters: "He saved his. His driving saved us."
While Hamilton coped on the medium tyre, he certainly wasn't calm on team radio. The championship leader frequently questioned his Mercedes team, even claiming: "We're going to lose this race."
But Wolff accepted those messages, adding: "I think you just need to accept that the driver somehow needs to have a pressure release path and by talking to us, even just vomiting the anger out, that's completely OK."
Hamilton dedicated his momentous victory to the late Niki Lauda, a great friend of his and Wolff's.
"It means a lot," said Wolff about the Monaco win, Mercedes' first since 2016. "It couldn't have been a more dramatic race after the incidents of last week.
"It was a world champions' drive for a world champion who isn't among us anymore."
RICCIARDO RUES MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Daniel Ricciardo was left to lament what could have been in Monaco where a disastrous strategy call under the safety car ruined his chances of a top five finish.
A year on from his incredible victory at the iconic street circuit, the Australian driver could only manage ninth overall after struggling to get past Kimi Raikkonen for almost half of the race.
Renault called their man in after Charles Leclerc's puncture prompted the safety car on lap 12. Ricciardo emerged 13th but failed to make any impact due to the Alfa Romeo in front.
Asked what he made of the team's pit strategy afterwards, Ricciardo was diplomatic.
"We have to figure it out," he said.
"I got called in Rascasse, so as soon as they said 'box', I got no time to obviously react or react differently, but obviously it wasn't the right call.
"Look, I'll settle and we'll sort it out as a team, what we could have done better, but for now have to have a look and see what they saw at the time and obviously why they called us in, if it was to cover Kevin or whatever, but obviously we both came in and just handed everyone else the positions.
"It's a shame because we had a great start, Kevin obviously was our target, and we had a good Turn 1 and got into fifth and that was really our place.
"It's a shame (because) we could have had a real big result today."
1 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:43:28.43
2 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI +2.602s
3 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES +3.162s
4 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA +5.537s
5 Pierre Gasly RED BULL RACING HONDA +9.946s
6 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT +53.454s
7 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA +54.574s
8 Alexander Albon SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA +55.200s
9 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT +60.894s
10 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI +61.034s
11 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT +66.801s
12 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI +1 lap
13 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES +1 lap
14 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT +1 lap
15 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES +1 lap
16 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 77 +1 lap
17 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI +1 lap
18 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES +1 lap
19 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI +2 laps
NC Charles Leclerc FERRARI DNF