Lewis Hamilton aims for pole position in Monaco

LEWIS Hamilton believes he has “no excuses” for not bringing an end to his pole position hoodoo around Monaco.

Lewis Hamilton shares a joke in the Mercedes team garage yesterday. Picture: Getty
Lewis Hamilton shares a joke in the Mercedes team garage yesterday. Picture: Getty

In seven previous attempts Hamilton has not once clinched top spot on the grid for Formula One’s showpiece grand prix, thereby denying himself the best opportunity for victory.

In the past ten races around the principality, the winner has started from pole in nine of those, with the only anomaly remarkably being Hamilton in his title-winning year of 2008 when he started third.

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The fact Hamilton is also fourth on F1’s all-time list when it comes to pole positions with 35, and not one of those has been in Monaco, is another extraordinary oddity.

However, on the back of four successive victories to move ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings, the 29-year-old knows he has never had a better chance of claiming pole for this race.

When the fact was put to him, the realisation dawned on Hamilton’s face as he said: “I haven’t been on pole. That’s true.”

Reflecting on his lack of poles in Monaco, Hamilton added: “I was on pole in Formula Three and GP2, but yeah, I didn’t even think of that.

“In 2009, I had the chance, but crashed. I had to be on such a limit that day it was a risk, too much of a risk in many ways, and I made a mistake.

“After that I’ve just not had a car to be on pole, although last year I did, but I wasn’t quick enough.

“This year I know I’ve the car, and this year I don’t have an excuse. Let’s see how that then works out for me.”

In fairness to Hamilton, in his first year with Mercedes last season he found the car uncomfortable to drive and encountered issues with a braking system that took a long time to resolve. Only now does he feel he has a car beneath him that is to his liking, and he is undoubtedly making the most of the situation, as he also has never had a better opportunity of winning a second world title.

Although Hamilton recently conceded he “drove like a w*****” around Monaco last year, he is refusing to beat himself up over it.

At the time, Hamilton was far from happy in qualifying second behind Rosberg, and even more thunderous after finishing fourth in the race.

But looking back now, he insisted: “I don’t hold on to things like that. I’m not angry about last year. I knew I lost time in certain turns, so I have to plan to make sure that’s not the case this weekend.”

Following Thursday’s two 90-minute practice sessions, the second of which was hampered by rain, Hamilton edged Rosberg by just 0.032 seconds.

That came despite Hamilton admitting he overslept ahead of the first session.

It was a good job for the Briton he now lives close to the circuit as a quick turnaround and jog to the track meant he was in Mercedes’ garage just before the start of FP1.

There are some obvious perks to living the high life in Monaco, with Hamilton adding: “It’s amazing waking up in your own bed.

“More so for me it’s about not having to go through a crowded hotel lobby full of Formula One fans.

“It’s about getting back in my own apartment, no-one knowing I’m there, and being able to go down to the pool if I need to.

“Then there’s getting in my own car or on my bike, and as I know the way round, it’s very, very neat.”

Another advantage of living in an area full of high-rollers is that Hamilton is largely left untroubled.

“It’s still a holiday destination and there are a lot of cruise ships that come through,” said Hamilton. “If I’m on a run, for instance, there are often people on holiday and you get noticed, but it’s not that bad.

“Even the police know me. There’s like a ratio of six policemen for every resident and they stop people a lot.

“Every time they’ve stopped me I’ve pulled the visor of my helmet up a little and they immediately recognise who I am. I know they’re just checking me.

“But everyone knows you because you’re one of the drivers here, so it’s very cool.”