In the sixth race of the season, Lewis Hamilton made sure of the sixth victory for the silver arrows. Hamilton dedicated his victory to Niki Lauda.
Is it just an impression that deceives? Or is it really true that the Mercedes protagonists had the hardest race weekend this year? It certainly doesn’t hurt to moan of a hard time and that only through sheer luck this victory was won.
In Monaco, both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff made every effort to convey such as message: “I never thought I could win this race,” the Briton wanted to whitewash everyone.
It all started with the Mercedes team screwing on the wrong tires during their first and only pit stop during the early safety car phase. Their choice – medium tires – obviously the wrong choice.
His direct opponents Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas went for hard tire and had, therefore, an advantage for the continuing race without any noteworthy race incident.
“I already knew after a few laps that I could never drive to the end,” said Hamilton, “unless I had to treat her like raw eggs.” The five-time world champion also did – with the result that he drove about two seconds slower than he could have done in one lap.
In retrospect, Hamilton commented:
“I have not driven such desolate tires since Shanghai in 2007.”
At that time, his tires degraded so much that he landed with his McLaren Mercedes in the gravel of the pit entrance, so lost the victory and later the World Cup.
Another stop for Hamilton would have been out of the question: “I’ve lost a race in Monaco before because I came in to pit unnecessarily. Today I swore to myself: I finish and win or there is a crash.”
The Brit once again delivered a driving masterpiece. For 66 laps he withstood the constant pressure of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and did not make the slightest mistake. His ride was reminiscent of that of his idol Ayrton Senna, who at that time the much faster Williams of Nigel Mansell sovereign behind him.
However, whether the victory really hung on the “silver” thread, remained an open question. There is a simple reason for it: Whenever Hamilton needed more horsepower, he turned on the power button – and kept himself away from time to time the jostling Verstappen.
Toto Wolff had trouble to cover up the absolute superiority of his cars:
“We gave Lewis the wrong tires. But it was a masterpiece how he dealt with it. Niki Lauda would have really enjoyed him. “
The question of what must happen so that Mercedes doesn’t win all the races of the season conjured an embarrassed smile on Toto’s face.
Embarrassed, because he himself obviously could not seriously believe his own answer. “We’re going to Canada now, because Ferrari 2018 was extremely strong.”
Only the last question and Wolff’s answer testified that Mercedes already at this early stage of the season toying with the new record: Namely, to win all 21 Grand Prix races.
What would have Niki Lauda said today, the Viennese was asked. The answer he gave with a mischievous laugh was revealing:
“You idiots, why didn’t you achieve a double victory again?”
The World Cup ranking says it all. Hamilton leads with 137 points after six out of 21 races. Second is teammate Bottas with 120 points. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen are already 55 and 59 points behind.
Even clearer is the comparison in the design evaluation. Mercedes leads Ferrari with 257 to 139 meters. One thing is for sure: hope for excitement can not convey the language of the numbers.