Lewis Hamilton: I was fighting with the spirit of Niki Lauda in Monaco victory

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco

Lewis Hamilton paid special tribute to Niki Lauda after claiming victory in a thrilling Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon; the Austrian Formula 1 legend sadly passing away aged 70 on Monday.

Hamilton won from pole in nerve-rangling fashion as he struggled to maintain his tyres towards the checkered flag, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas followed in second and third respectively. 

It was actually Max Verstappen who finished the race second, however, a five-second penalty saw Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Bottas enter the podium spots in third.

The Brit faced struggles with grip as his team opted for medium tyres, rather than the harder rubber sported by his race rivals, but ultimately commanded the race and achieved his 77th career victory.

In his post-race interview, Hamilton paid tribute to the late, great Lauda.

“I was fighting with the spirit of Niki. I know he’ll be looking down taking his hat off. I was trying to make him proud. We truly miss him...I have not driven on such empty tyres since Shanghai in 2007."

Lauda has been rightly worshipped by F1 fans for surviving a near-fatal crash back in 1976 before returning to the sport and winning his second world championship just a year later.

He had a lung transplant eight months ago, but his cause of death has not yet been revealed.

Prior to the race, a minute's silence took place to remember the racing great, and three-time world champion, with each driver wearing red caps with 'Niki' engraved on them.

Hamilton's performance was composed and precise, though, and despite pressure from Verstappen, he continued Mercedes' brilliant start to the campaign; it's now six straight wins.

He continued by stating he hoped his careful drive didn't bore fans.

"I hope it wasn’t really boring. I was never going to come in. I learned the hard way here before. I was driving on nothing. This team has done an incredible job. What we have achieved in the first six races is remarkable.

On his late clip with Verstappen, Hamilton said: "It was a bit of a late dive. I saw him last minute. He wasn’t fully past. A light touch and move on."

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