Famous faces from all over the globe turned out in force to watch Lewis Hamilton dig deep to win an emotionally-charged Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Monte Carlo showpiece is the standout race on the Formula One calendar, an event known for its glitz and glamour.
And this year’s edition was no different, with Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti one of the lucky ones to get his hands on the hottest ticket in town.
The Italian midfielder was seen arriving in the F1 paddock with French model Cindy Bruna, while NFL superstar Odell Beckham Jr also soaked up the pre-race atmosphere.
And they watched on as Hamilton romped to victory in Monte Carlo, a triumph that is a fitting tribute to the late Niki Lauda who passed away this week.
The British star, too upset to speak to the media earlier this week following the death of Lauda, had to dig deep to seal his third win in Monte Carlo and extend his lead at the top of the standings.
By Monaco’s standards, it was an entertaining showdown with plenty of on-track tussles, and Hamilton endured a nervy finale on ageing tyres.
While it was a memorable day for the Brit, in the end, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas saw his race ruined after an unsafe release from Red Bull in the pit lane ultimately led to Max Verstappen causing damage to Finn’s car.
Bottas wasn’t the only one to endure a tough afternoon, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffering a miserable race in front of his home support for the second year in a row.
The 21-year-old, who crashed out of the Monte Carlo showdown in his Sauber last year, had it all to do after a woeful qualifying saw him start 15th on the grid on Sunday.
And, despite making up early ground including a fine move on Haas’ Romain Grosjean, his attempt to get ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg ultimately ruined his race.
Leclerc bumped into the barriers after being squeezed by Hulkenberg, suffering a puncture that ultimately damaged his car to the extent that Ferrari retired him from the race.
And while Leclerc will want to forget this race in a hurry, Hamilton will saviour it after securing the win he craved.
Meanwhile, Mercedes will keep a red star on their cars as a permanent remembrance of triple world champion Lauda, the team’s non-executive chairman who died last Monday.
A red three-pointed star on the engine cover was one of several on-car tributes to the Austrian at Sunday’s race, with the ‘halo’ head protection device painted red as a reference to Lauda’s familiar red cap.
“Niki we miss you,” was written on top of the halo, while the nose of the car bears Lauda’s signature.
The Austrian, who was 70, wore a red cap to cover the burns sustained in a fiery 1976 crash at the Nurburgring which almost cost him his life.
The then-Ferrari driver, a two-times Monaco Grand Prix winner, returned within weeks and battled James Hunt for the championship, losing out that year but winning again in 1977 and 1984.
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Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton MBE (born 7 January 1985) is a British racing driver who races in Formula One for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. A five-time Formula One World Champion, he is often considered the best driver of his generation and widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. He won his first World Championship title with McLaren in 2008, then moved to Mercedes where he won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 before winning back-to-back titles again in 2017 and 2018. The most successful British driver in the history of the sport, Hamilton has more World Championship titles (5) and more race victories (77) than any other British driver in Formula One. He also holds records for the all-time most career points (3,155), the most wins at different circuits (26), the all-time most pole positions (85) and the most grand slams in a season (3).
Born and raised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Hamilton’s interest in racing started when his father bought him a radio-controlled car when he was six. He was signed to McLaren’s young driver support programme in 1998, after he approached McLaren team principal Ron Dennis at an awards ceremony three years earlier and said “one day I want to be racing your cars”. After winning the British Formula Renault, Formula 3 Euro Series, and GP2 championships on his way up the racing career ladder, he made his Formula One debut twelve years after his initial encounter with Dennis, driving for McLaren in 2007. Coming from a mixed background, with a black father and white mother, Hamilton is the first and only black driver to race in Formula One.
In his first season in Formula One, Hamilton set numerous records as he finished runner-up in the 2007 season to Kimi Räikkönen by just one point, including those for the most consecutive podium finishes from debut (9), the joint most wins in a debut season (4) and the most points in a debut season (109). The following season, he won his first title in dramatic fashion; on the last corner of the last lap in the last race of the season, becoming the then-youngest Formula One World Champion in history. After four more years with McLaren without finishing higher than fourth in the drivers’ standings, Hamilton signed with Mercedes in 2013, reuniting with his childhood karting teammate, Nico Rosberg. In his first season, he finished 4th once again, the third time in five years.
regulations mandating the use of turbo-hybrid engines contributed to the start of a highly successful era for Hamilton and Mercedes, during which he has won a further four World Championship titles. Hamilton won consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015 during an intense and sometimes volatile rivalry with teammate Nico Rosberg, to match his hero Ayrton Senna‘s three World Championships. Following Rosberg’s retirement, Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel became Hamilton’s closest rival as the pair engaged in two intense championship battles, but Hamilton prevailed to claim consecutive titles for the second time in his career in 2017 and 2018, joining Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as drivers with five or more World Championship titles.Changes to