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Monaco Flashback 2019: Hamilton Verstappen battle nearly ended in tears

Monaco Flashback 2019: Hamilton Verstappen battle nearly ended in tears

18-05-2021 07:54 Last update: 08:40
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After a year without it, the Monaco Grand Prix is back on the Formula 1 calendar. In 2021, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been battling together, and it seems like the Mercedes driver is starting to pull away. But they return to the most famous street race for the first time since their tussle here in 2019. A race that nearly ended in tears for the two rivals. 

The race in the Principality has not yet been a favourite for Max Verstappen. The Dutchman came close during the last edition in 2019, but he has never been on the podium in Monaco. Meanwhile, Hamilton has won the race three times and achieved a podium result in five out of seven races in Monte Carlo for Mercedes. 

Verstappen and Monaco

In 2019, Verstappen competed in the Monaco Grand Prix for the fifth time. The Dutchman dropped out of the first two editions after making his own mistake in the race, and in 2018 he made a mistake in the third free practice session that forced him to start from the back. Then he finished ninth in the race, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo would win the race from pole.

In 2017, there wasn't much more in it than fifth place due to a strategic choice by the team. Ricciardo and Verstappen drove behind Bottas. On two different strategies, Bottas was put under pressure. Verstappen remained stuck, Ricciardo shot up to P3. 

Mercedes too fast on Saturday

In 2019, Verstappen got close to a podium but he just couldn't get past Hamilton. Verstappen started from third place on Sunday, after qualifying that was won by Lewis Hamilton. The Brit had less than a tenth advantage over his teammate and was almost five tenths faster than Verstappen.

Verstappen had a good start, but with the short approach to the first corner, the Dutchman wisely held back. There would be other opportunities in the future. In Monaco, overtaking is not easy, but with strategy, gains can still be made and that would prove to be the case.

An issue for Charles Leclerc caused him to drive around the track for a lap with a lot of damage to his car. A Safety Car was needed to remove all debris from the track, and that Safety Car was used by the leaders to make their pit stop. However, with Hamilton and Bottas right behind each other, this was a disadvantage for Mercedes.

Red Bull's quick pit stop doesn't help

To avoid having to wait for Hamilton, Bottas tried to drive as calmly as possible towards the pits. Despite that, Red Bull Racing had a great pit stop putting the Dutchman ahead of Bottas. However, it was deemed an unsafe release, resulting in a five-second time penalty.

In second place, Verstappen had a lot of pace. If he could overtake Hamilton, a podium or perhaps even a victory would have been possible. Verstappen tried everything to pass Lewis, but nothing worked out. An all or nothing attempt at the end almost ended in tears, but Hamilton saw Verstappen coming just in time.

Because of the five-second penalty and the field that was so close together, Verstappen ended up finishing fourth. Sebastian Vettel was second, and Valtteri Bottas third. Verstappen missed out on a podium again while the honours went to Hamilton. Will we get another Hamilton/Verstappen battle this time around?

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