Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish at the Monaco Grand Prix to win his fourth race of the season after an emotional week for the world of Formula 1.
The Mercedes driver dedicated the victory to his hero Niki Lauda, the three-time world champion who died aged 70 earlier this month.
“That was definitely the hardest race I’ve had but nonetheless I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki [Lauda],” said an emotional Hamilton after the race.
After recovering from a near-fatal accident to become one of motor racing’s greatest drivers, Lauda served as a non-executive chairman of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix and was influential in bringing Hamilton to the team.
The Brit continued: “He’s been such an influence in our team and I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off.
“I was trying to stay focused and make him proud that’s been the goal all week and we truly miss him.”
The Formula 1 world paid tribute to Lauda ahead of the race, wearing red caps with the Austrian’s name.
It was yet another dramatic afternoon on the track in the principality, where drivers hurtle around the winding streets of Monaco.
Race leader Hamilton was chased relentlessly by Red Bull racer Max Verstappen and dug deep to defend his lead amid issues with his tires.
However, it was the first time this season that a Mercedes one-two was disturbed, with Hamilton’s teammate Bottas falling to third after starting the race second on the grid.
Much of that was down to a controversial pit stop that saw Verstappen make contact with Bottas as they both exited the pit lanes, causing the Finnish driver to fall behind both the Dutchman and Sebastian Vettel.
“It was small margins yesterday and that made today difficult. Max got me in the pit lane and left me with no room and then I was stuck behind, it was like a Sunday drive,” said a frustrated Bottas, after finishing the race behind Ferrari’s Vettel.
The Red Bull racer was perhaps lucky to only get away with a five-second penalty and, despite finishing second on the track, he was demoted to fourth in the results.
The teams now head to Canada for the seventh race on the calendar, with Hamilton and Bottas still way ahead in the drivers’ championship.