Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2021

Hamilton says Monaco win “out of reach” as damage leaves him seventh on grid

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says winning in Monaco is out of the question this weekend after qualifying in seventh place.

His championship rival Max Verstappen will start second on the grid, alongside pole-winner Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton abandoned his final run in qualifying before Leclerc’s crash brought out the red flags. The Mercedes driver hit a barrier approaching Portier on his final run in Q3. “The car’s damaged,” he told the team as he pitted.

The world champion doubts he will make much progress from the fourth row of the grid. “It’s near, almost impossible to overtake,” he said. “Up front where we are [that’s] pretty much the case when everyone’s, as you know, on the same speed.”

“Saturday is the day,” he added. “So obviously that really does put, for sure, the win out of reach.”

Finishing no lower than his starting position is “the minimum” Hamilton is expecting from the race. “Hopefully seventh and then we’re going to try and somehow see how we can move forwards,” he said.

Hamilton had not looked in contention for pole during final practice, ending the session seventh behind Lando Norris. He was unable to find pace to improve in qualifying, ending Q3 behind Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.

“It didn’t feel too bad on Thursday,” he said. “And we made some changes and it was pretty terrible today. So, of course, we go back to the drawing board.

“I think from my point, I just had such a lack of grip out there, which then leads you to try to kind of overdrive and start pushing to get more from it. But [it was] to no end and it just doesn’t improve. So [it was] a difficult one.”

Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas was able to qualify third, despite his final run being disrupted by the red flag brought out by Charles Leclerc’s crash.

“Obviously, Valtteri was able to get something out of it,” said Hamilton, on the difference. “But I think we’ve definitely had some problems today.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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39 comments on “Hamilton says Monaco win “out of reach” as damage leaves him seventh on grid”

  1. Damage limitation for Lewis tomorrow. Still 18 GPs after Monaco!

    1. This time luck was not with LH, his 2021 quest for world championship almost gone with Verstappen more consistently up front 1-2, minimal error, while LH himself already made 2 errors thus far this season. This race could be championship deciding just as Sepang 2016.

      1. *facepalm*

        You couldn’t be more wrong even if you tried

        1. He means major driver errors but i could understand you!

      2. There’s no question hamilton made more mistakes so far, but from what the car showed so far he’s still the favourite, I’d say it’s harder for verstappen to get into the championship lead with this race than it is for hamilton to still be ahead, and the mercedes advantage won’t suddenly disappear the next races.

  2. Broccoliface
    22nd May 2021, 16:31

    Bono, my points are gone

    1. Copy lewis, Ferrari is checking it.

  3. The race is tomorrow.
    This is Monaco, sometimes it throws huge surprises.

  4. Without tempting fate, I doubt it’s going to be incident free further front. There are a lot of fast drivers eager for that win – Leclerc (presuming 1st or 6th on the grid at least), Verstappen, Bottas, Sainz, Norris, even Gasly. Lots of different teams, meaning less team mate precaution in the driving…

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    22nd May 2021, 16:46

    I still will be shocked if he’s not third at least by the end. Though his lack of pace was surprising, as he says Bottas managed to get something out of it. Usually when Mercedes stumble, Bottas stumbles harder. I suppose watching Hamilton’s progress – or lack of, will be one of the main stories for tomorrow.

    1. @rocketpanda This is a track more about precision than balancing the car to carry pace through the corners, a Lewis speciality. So Bottas tends to do well here and at similar tracks. Still the race is another matter.

      1. Not so sure about Bottas. Today it was more that a lot of drivers just didn’t get their act together than his outright speed.
        And while his qualifyings were kind of ok, his racepace has been shocking here over the years.
        He could really end up being the leader of a Trulli-train tomorrow allowing Verstappen and Leclerc (if he’s allowed to keep his position) to break away.

        1. @roadrunner Fair point. Bottas’s race issues more recently have often seemed down to keeping up tyre temperatures. That seems to have been the problem for both Mercedes here, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if that happened over the race.

  6. If I was Bottas I’d be sending one from a long way back on Verstappen, nothing to lose for him. Same with Leclerc, just close the door and Verstappen would have to back off. Id say those 2 were favourites for me and both will want a Monaco win badly.

    1. @slowmo a P3 start in Monaco is a 50 per cent chance for P2 into Turn 1. You’re on the clean side, the inside into the corner, and you cover less distance since the start finish straight is a bit curved to the right. Bottas just needs a decent start and a bit of a late brake, and he will be through.

  7. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    22nd May 2021, 16:54

    That was a bad day at the office – Bottas managed to qualify 3rd just behind Max so this is driver fail rather than car fail.

    Knowing the luck Hamilton has been having I expect 2 cars ahead of him to crash, 1 to have a slow pitstop, just before Hamilton pits there will be a safety car and will still make the podium.

    Other option is that Toto is giving Bottas a 2022 contract if he is real aggressive into turn 1 with Max and hits his tyres or wing.

    1. A well-timed red flag can also work wonders

      1. Just never pit and then a red flag towards the end probably wins him the race.

      2. Ai, poor Russell will get another call then.

  8. To be fair, it didnt look like heb could go top 5 anyways, even without damage. There were no fast sectors starting that last run and before that his laps were not impressive either. Even norris was faster before the last run. So i dont think the damage would’ve compromised his qually but it can compromise his race. Unless the team uses up one of the curfew lifts allocations

  9. It’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Skill, patience and tyre preservation (not to mention errors) may yet gain him a few places.

  10. As he has amply demonstrated prior to today’s debacle, this is one of HAM’s weakest tracks. Hitting a barrier on the final Q3 run confirms just how little he got into the requisite rhythm at the track that most needs it. I suspect his woes are far from over as he now must seek to find rhythm with a full load of fuel and from deep within the pack down in P7.
    He must regret rejecting the setup tweaks that benefited BOT, who opted to bias toward qualy. It’s baffling how he opted to bias toward race setup at a track where it’s quite easily done to keep a car that’s ~2s faster per lap behind.

    Prediction: HAM DNFs due to early carnage in the pack; VER wins and emerges with a solid WDC lead for the first time in his career,

    1. Come on Lewis go go go! You can do it man

    2. ??? Lewis’ next Monaco win will be his fourth, which would tie for 3rd most all time at the venue. If you win in Monaco 3 times, that is not a “weak” track for you. 3 is the same number of Monaco wins as Sterling Moss and Jackie Stewart. And that’s not even factoring in the fact Lewis would be sitting on four Monaco wins right now if Mercedes strategy hadn’t foiled a certain Monaco gp win in 2015. Come off it.

    3. @andrewwj Where did you have it from that Hamilton went for a race setup? He’s already blamed the team for the bad setup, so it obviously had nothing to do with him.

    4. Mmm, with hamilton’s track record I have a hard time expecting a DNF from him, I’m trying to think but I can’t even remember when was the last crash related dnf for him, I might be wrong but it could be the famous rosberg crash in spain 2016!

  11. Think he’s probably right, barring rain or a lucky safety car. Bernoldi showed how impossible it is to pass in Monaco years ago…

    1. Wasn’t Hamilton reputed to be the world’s best overtaker – ever?

      1. At any other track, sure, you’d be a fool to rule him out from 7th on the grid. Monaco is a very big ask though. But stranger things have happened!

  12. I think LH was always playing wingman to Bottas after the strup Bottas showed giving up his place to LH.

    This week Mercedes clear the deck, to favour Bottas, it was him vs the rest, and he could only come third.
    LH was just ok, man whatever, let see what happens. That said, Bottas still felt he had another gear if Leclerc hadn’t crashed preventng his final run. If onlys.

    This only goes to show how much Mercedes needs Hamilton as their main man.

    There should be some way to prevent the fastest on the first run, crashing out and spoiling everyone’s second run. eg fastest goes last.

    1. So to sum up your story, because Bottas is third Mercedes needs Hamilton.
      It seems to make sense for you.

      1. .. and they need him because he’s 7th 😁

  13. The only saving grace is that Hamilton finish far enough down to act as a buffer for Bottas, when he pits, to hopefully hold up the others when they need to pit and do a blitz first lap out.

  14. Knowing Hamilton’s luck, he’ll go long until he’s in the provisional lead, then a Safety Car will pop up and he’ll keep his position

    1. Which is in any case a thing many drivers far back should try, given it’s monaco.

  15. I still fully expect Hamilton to get into the top 5, and potentially even the top 4, simply by running extremely long on his first stint and overcutting the slower cars of Norris and Gasly. It should honestly be simple enough, given how the undercut is usually ineffective here and the Mercedes is so good at preserving tyres. Who knows, if Leclerc decides to go for a strategy of backing the pack up for most of the first stint, wouldn’t put it past Hamilton to just overcut them all, similar to how Vettel nearly did in 2012 from 9th.

  16. He’ll somehow find a way… He’ll probably just stay out until everyone else has pitted and then there’ll be a red flag just after he inherits the lead and then will cruise to the win with fresh tyres after the restart.

  17. F1oSaurus (@)
    23rd May 2021, 8:19

    How does “damage” leave him 7th on the grid? It wasn’t the “damage” on his last run that made him struggle all session.

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