Hamilton: We gave it absolutely everything

By Sports Desk December 12, 2021

Lewis Hamilton spoke of his pride in his Mercedes team after they "gave it absolutely everything" but came up just short in the Formula One drivers' championship.

Hamilton was bidding for a record-breaking eighth title in 2021 and battled back admirably after trailing Max Verstappen for much of the year.

It looked as though the Mercedes great would pip Verstappen as he led for the majority of Sunday's decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, only for a late safety car to bring the Dutchman back into contention with one lap to go.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, was able to get past Hamilton, leaving Mercedes furious with race director Michael Masi.

Immediately after the heartbreaking finish, though, Hamilton congratulated an emotional Verstappen and then turned his attention to the Silver Arrows staff.

"Firstly, a big congratulations to Max and to his team," Hamilton said. "I think we did an amazing job this year.

"Everyone back at the factory, all the men and women we have, they've worked so hard this whole year. It's been the most difficult of seasons. I'm so proud of them, so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.

"We gave it everything in this last part of the season, absolutely everything. We never gave up.

"I've been feeling great in the car this past couple of months, particularly at the end.

"But we're still in the pandemic and I just wish everyone to stay safe and have a good Christmas with their families and we'll see you guys next year."

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    Lewis Hamilton suggested the problems with his Mercedes W13 were being exacerbated in Monaco on "the bumpiest track I've ever driven".

    Seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton has endured a difficult season, complaining right from the outset about his "bouncing" 2022 car.

    There had been some signs of progress in recent weeks, however, with Hamilton finishing fifth in Barcelona despite a first-lap puncture.

    But things have taken another turn for the worse for the Silver Arrows in Monaco, where Hamilton finished in P10 in Friday's first practice session and P12 in the second.

    The circuit itself has contributed, the Briton says, as he said: "Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven.

    "So, one, that makes it difficult, and two, just generally our car bounces a lot.

    "It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low speed also, but it's not aero[-related]. I think the bumps on the track just make it worse.

    "I'm not really having to learn the track differently, just fighting the car. To put a lap together is... wow, holy c**p! I don't remember experiencing it like that before."

    Team-mate George Russell was only a little better in P8 and P6, beaten in both sessions by McLaren's Lando Norris (P5 twice).

    "I'm a little bit surprised to say we're ahead of Mercedes," Norris said. "I expected them to maybe be ahead of us at the minute.

    "But the plan is to be ahead of them, and if we can be, I'll be very happy with that."

    Yet McLaren colleague Daniel Ricciardo has work to do after hitting the barrier in FP2.

    "We pushed a little too far probably in a couple areas with the set-up," Ricciardo said. "We had a good morning, and obviously you try a few things for FP2 to try to maximise a bit more performance, but let's say we overstepped it – you don't know until you try it.

    "It was my first lap, so I couldn't really get much of a read on it; it happened straight away.

    "I tried my best to save it, but I couldn't. We missed all of the session, but I'm okay. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

  • Espargaro and Vinales sign new two-year Aprilia deals Espargaro and Vinales sign new two-year Aprilia deals

    Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales have signed new two-year deals with Aprilia.

    The Spanish duo will continue to ride for the MotoGP team until at least the end of the 2024 season.

    Espargaro will go into the Italian Grand Prix this weekend third in the battle for the title, having secured one win and three podium finishes this season.

    Vinales continues to adapt to the RS-GP, but is 10th in the standings.

    "This confirmation [of the new contracts] was just what the doctor ordered," Espargaro said. "We've worked hard together and grown together.

    "We were a hope, now we are reality. In 2021, we had already seen clear signs of our steps forward and now we are able to battle consistently with the best in the world.

    "Continuing to do so with Aprilia is a source of pride for me. We can grow even more and we want to demonstrate that on the track."

    Vinales stated: "I'm extremely happy to continue my work with Aprilia Racing. Now our horizons are expanding and we'll be able to work with continuity to achieve ambitious goals.

    "I believe in this project and I'm happy to be part of it. I've found a fantastic environment in Aprilia and this confirmation gives me the peace of mind to grow the way this team and I deserve to."

  • Can Leclerc lift his Monaco curse with Red Bull in control? Can Leclerc lift his Monaco curse with Red Bull in control?

    Formula One has arrived at the most prestigious race on the calendar, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc would be desperate to end an awful run of form at his home race.

    Born and raised in Monaco, Leclerc's string of bad luck on the historic circuit dates back to his days in Formula Two, where he set the F2 lap record in 2017 before suspension problems caused a DNF.

    The next year, in F1, he was in the points for Sauber before brake failure led to a crash with Brendan Hartley.

    After poor strategy and Q1 elimination in his first Monaco Grand Prix for Ferrari in 2019, Leclerc charged up the field early on but pushed a little too hard and collided with Romain Grosjean at Rascasse.

    In 2021, he surprisingly stuck an inferior Ferrari on pole position but crashed at the end of Q3, and extensive drive-shaft damage led to him cruelly retiring on the formation lap.

    The 24-year-old became the first Monegasque to claim pole, but his three DNFs – from as many F1 entries – are his most at any circuit.

    Despite ending up in the barriers on a demonstration lap in Niki Lauda's Ferrari last week, another pole could finally put Leclerc on the top step in his home race.

    Twelve of the past 17 winners at Monaco have started from pole, as little room to overtake with bigger cars on Monte Carlo's notoriously tight streets makes track position critical.

    It would be a welcome way for Leclerc to buck his trend of failing to convert poles into race victories, winning only four times from 13 starts at the front of the grid.

    The title race adds another dimension, with Max Verstappen taking a six-point lead from him in the drivers' standings after successive victories at Imola, Miami and Barcelona.

    In-form Red Bull with records in sight

    Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, and this weekend could bring a number of records for the team.

    This weekend could see Red Bull claim their highest number of race wins (six), pole positions (six), podiums (24, with both drivers) and points earned at a circuit, surpassing the 356 collected in Spain.

    Meanwhile, reigning world champion Verstappen has the chance to record the longest winning streak of his career, beating last year's three wins between France and Austria.

    Ricciardo in need of renaissance

    Daniel Ricciardo has come under criticism from McLaren team principal Zak Brown for his recent performances, with a clear need for improvement.

    The 32-year-old suffered one of the lowest points of his career last year in Monte Carlo, when he was lapped by teammate Lando Norris.

    Ricciardo is suffering his worst streak of finishes outside the points (three) since 2012, when he had five consecutive empty-handed returns for Toro Rosso.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 110
    2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 85
    4. George Russell (Mercedes) 74
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 65

    Constructors

    1. Red Bull 195
    2. Ferrari 169
    3. Mercedes 120
    4. McLaren 50
    5. Alfa Romeo 39

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