Tue | Jul 23, 2019

Lewis Hamilton dedicates Monaco GP pole to Lauda

Published:Sunday | May 26, 2019 | 12:29 AM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after he clocked the fastest time during the qualifying session at the Monaco racetrack in Monaco, yesterday.

MONACO (AP):

Lewis Hamilton beat his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to take pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday while Ferrari slipped down the grid after another error-strewn performance.

Hamilton shouted “Yes, yes, yes!” after his second pole of the season ended Bottas’ bid for a fourth straight pole. Hamilton beat the Finnish driver’s time on his last lap and dedicated his record-extending 85th pole to Niki Lauda.

“This one’s for Niki,” Hamilton said.

Lauda, Hamilton’s friend and mentor, died on Monday at the age of 70 less than one year after a lung transplant. There will be a special ceremony held in Lauda’s honour shortly before today’s race.

Lauda, a three-time F1 champion, played a key role in persuading Hamilton to join Mercedes in 2013 after leaving McLaren, and Hamilton has won four of his five titles under the guidance of Lauda and head of motorsport Toto Wolff.

“I can’t remember (a pole position) which means as much as this one in what’s been a difficult week,” Hamilton said. “We had a cloud over us this week and really tried to deliver for Niki ... We tried to do him proud, and, hopefully, so far we are.”

Bottas, who wore a black armband on his left sleeve in memory of Lauda, thought he should have beaten Hamilton.

BOTTAS DISAPPOINTED

“Congratulations to Lewis,” Bottas said. “But I’m really disappointed. I had the speed today.”

Max Verstappen underlined his consistent start to the season by qualifying in third place for Red Bull, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

The mood in the Ferrari camp is likely to be a despondent one in what is already a difficult season.

After Vettel’s crash earlier on Saturday in the third and final practice, the team made a glaring strategical error, which resulted in teammate Charles Leclerc being eliminated from the first section of qualifying.

Hamilton is chasing his sixth F1 title and leads the championship by seven points from Bottas heading into the race.Vettel’s last of four F1 titles was in 2013 with Red Bull, and this season, he is under pressure from within the team.