Friday 23 March 2018

Hamilton aiming to maintain grip with fifth victory on spin

Lewis Hamilton is facing a battle with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Lewis Hamilton is facing a battle with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Jerome Pugmire

Formula One desperately needs a different winner at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend to maintain any semblance of suspense.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton goes for his fifth straight win with the season taking on an air of inevitability, just like last season when Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull dominated with crushing ease, winning the last nine races and 13 from 19 overall.

Mercedes cannot be matched for speed and Hamilton looks like he could beat even those numbers, with four-time defending champion Vettel rapidly drifting out of contention.

"The last few races have been just incredible. I honestly never expected I'd win four consecutive Grands Prix in my career, and I'd love to continue that run here," Hamilton said.

"The car has been strong at every race so far, and I'm sure it'll be the same in Monaco, so we should be set for an entertaining weekend."

Although Hamilton leads team-mate Nico Rosberg by only three points in the standings, that is because Hamilton retired from the season-opening Australian GP with engine trouble. Rosberg won in Melbourne, so Mercedes have won every race so far. It looks like being a straight contest between the two team-mates as to who wins the title.

"The championship battle is very close, and to regain the advantage at my home race would be fantastic," said Rosberg, who grew up in Monaco and won his maiden Formula One race here last year. "So I'll be pushing harder than ever to make that happen."

Vettel is down in fourth spot overall, and already 55 points behind Hamilton, the 2008 champion. His more realistic contest is getting the better of his new team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, who is just six points behind him.

Meanwhile, nothing much has changed at Ferrari since Marco Mattiacci took over as principal of the Formula One team last month, Fernando Alonso said yesterday.

"Not much to be honest. I don't think it's going to happen soon," the double world champion said.

"He's still learning about the team situation, the Formula One environment, the F1 weekends. There are a lot of things to learn and (he wants to) get some experience before making any decisions that at the moment he will not take."


Mattiacci, the former head of the Italian carmaker's North American operations, was drafted in after Stefano Domenicali resigned in early April following the team's disappointing start to the new V6 turbo era.

The new boss, who has no Formula One experience, said last month that he thought initially Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was joking when he made the approach.

While Montezemolo has attended two of the five races so far, and has said he wants to be more hands on with the race team, Mattiacci has kept a low profile.

Ferrari have not won a race in more than a year, or qualified on pole position since 2012, and are currently third in the constructors' standings.

Irish Independent

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