Hamilton 'can't afford' Monaco repeat in 'tough' F1 title fight

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Lewis Hamilton admits he "can't afford" another slip like in Monaco as he now plays catch up in the Formula 1 championship for the first time in 2021.

The seven-time champion just wasn't happy on the streets of Monte Carlo, and after only claiming seventh on the grid due to Charles Leclerc's crash in qualifying, Lewis ended up finishing there on race day as an attempted undercut by Mercedes backfired.

With nearest rival Max Verstappen winning, it means the Dutchman heads to Azerbaijan with a four-point lead over Hamilton, but the Briton was philosophical.

“There’s a long, long way to go,” he said post-race in Monaco.

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“We can’t afford another weekend like this, but I’m grateful I finished and got some points, fastest lap; every point you get on a bad weekend like this can hopefully count towards something at the end.”

Even so, Hamilton's frustration with his team across the weekend was evident, and F1 motorsport chief Ross Brawn does think it was a sign of rustiness in battle.

“Lewis was clearly agitated with the way his weekend was going in Monaco and that frustration boiled over in the race when he was unhappy with how his strategy was playing out,” he wrote in his Formula1.com column.

“He’s a fierce competitor, so it should be expected that he will get frustrated when things don’t go his way. He has rarely had to experience this, so he’s a bit out of practice in handling these things.

“Yes, he was pretty robust but when he reflects on this weekend, I’m sure he will look at it differently. Mercedes and Lewis have been together for a long time – and know each other well – so they will get over it. It won’t be an issue.”

Hamilton though denied the pressure in this championship duel was Verstappen was different than his previous fights in 2007 and 2008, both of which were decided by just a point

“No,” he replied, “I’ve been racing since I was eight. Each one is different in its own way, but I don’t think it’s worse or better.

"It’s going to be tough. I told you at the beginning they [Red Bull have] got a championship-winning car, and they’re going to be very hard to beat.

“I’ve been serious about it all year, these races, and we’ve won races which we shouldn’t have won, like in Bahrain, but it’s not over,” he concluded.