Lewis Hamilton has said he has “loved every second” of being on track in Monaco this weekend, “more than probably ever”, despite having a “real handful” underneath him in qualifying.
Hamilton initially struggled in both Q1 and Q2 during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, making it through both early sessions with his final flying runs on fresh tyres having been close to the drop zone on both occasions, but he found pace from his Mercedes to place his car sixth on the grid for Sunday’s race.
It was a tight fight for pole position throughout a thrilling session in Monte Carlo on Saturday, with Max Verstappen just about edging out Fernando Alonso for P1 on the grid, with Mercedes having debuted their long-awaited significant upgrade package which had been initially pencilled in for Imola, which was cancelled last weekend.
The seven-time World Champion admitted his car had felt tough to handle during the session on Saturday, but Hamilton was beaming after qualifying and felt like he had loved every second, after recovering from a setback following a crash late on in FP3.
“Well firstly, it’s been an amazing weekend, I’ve loved every second on the track, more than probably ever,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the session.
“I think the last time I loved it this much was like 2007, 2008, and my Formula 3 days here, so I’ve genuinely really enjoyed it.
“I think we made some really good changes because every time you make a change, it’s like a roll of the dice, 50/50 chance it’s going to work.
“P1 to P2 was good. P2 to P3, I think was good, but we then made a change into P3, which didn’t feel as good, but it was faster in the middle sector, but slower in the first and last. So the car just felt like a real handful and just to switch on the tyres, I really struggled with – and that was the first time in this session.
“We know why, and it was a decision that I had taken against everyone’s judgement. I fought for something and it made it really even harder, probably.
“But I got a really good lap at the end, and I think that’s really as fast as our car was going to go.
“You know, in a perfect world, maybe there would be a tenth left in it, but I’m grateful I kept it out of the wall and got it round.”
When it comes to what has kept Hamilton in a good mood over the course of the weekend so far, he was reflective on how the team have gone about the construction of their upgrades, adding that he feels “refreshed” for some time off.
On top of that, the upgrades on the car having some kind of effect has helped him feel like Mercedes are on the right path after struggling at the beginning of the year.
“I think I’ve just arrived here this weekend in a really good frame of mind,” Hamilton said.
“Last weekend was really good to have the weekend off, so I feel really refreshed this week, and generally just I’ve loved the challenge of being in the car.
“Definitely with the changes we’ve made, and for which I’m so grateful for everyone back in the factory, they’ve worked so hard to build these components for the car, and I’m glad I didn’t break the new components.
“I broke the wing, which I’m sorry for, but those changes have helped the feeling. So it definitely feels like it’s going in the right direction.
“I don’t think we’re going to get a full read of the new sidepods and everything until we get to somewhere like Barcelona, where we’ll see the car come more alive with it.”