Lewis Hamilton targets Monaco GP victory after qualifying third

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will start the Monaco GP from third on Sunday but said he's still going for the win.

Lewis Hamilton remains optimistic of converting third on the grid into victory in Sunday’s Monaco GP despite Mercedes’ pace deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari.

Hamilton was four tenths off Daniel Ricciardo’s pole time – a Monaco lap record of 1:10.810 – in qualifying and had to settle for a second-row start after title rival Sebastian Vettel improved on his final flying lap to take second.

The championship leader holds a 17-point lead over Vettel in the standings but when asked if he would just be targeting finishing ahead of the Ferrari, Hamilton insisted to Sky F1: “A win. That’s what I’m going for tomorrow.

“Somehow, someway, I’m going to try to switch places with them. Nothing’s impossible at this track but everything’s impossible too.”

Both of the four-time world champion’s victories in Monaco have come from starting third, most recently in 2016 when a botched Red Bull pit stop cost pole-man Ricciardo, and Hamilton hopes to once again find a way to gain places on a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

He added: “It’s still a long race ahead of us tomorrow. I don’t think Red Bull have tried the other tyres [ultrasofts] yet so it will be interesting to see how we all go.”

Sky F1's Ant Davidson is at the Skypad to compare Daniel Ricciardo's record breaking Monaco pole lap with Sebastian Vettel who starts on the front row alongside him.

Hamilton took back-to-back wins in Azerbaijan and Spain but had labelled Red Bull favourites coming into the weekend.

Mercedes have failed to lap within three tenths of the former world champions so far this weekend and Hamilton conceded he couldn’t challenge Ricciardo for pole.

“Even with a perfect lap we couldn’t catch Daniel today,” Hamilton said.

“We gave it everything we could but they had the pace on us all weekend and we knew that would be the case.

“I was up two and a bit tenths [in my Q3 lap]. I didn’t make any mistakes, I just wasn’t able to hold on to the gain that I had early on and the tyres started to drop off.”

Vettel was victorious in Monaco 12 months’ ago and the run down to St Devote off the line could prove crucial in determining Sunday’s victor.

Ferrari showed good long-run pace in Thursday’s practice sessions and Vettel says he won’t take unnecessary risks in his bid to close his points deficit to Hamilton.

“First row is good, pole position is a little bit better,” said the two-time Monaco winner. “Who knows, I think we focus on the start and then we’re open-minded. It will be a long race and there’s a different game tomorrow.

“Today was all about sprint but tomorrow can be a lot more tactical. We know what we have to do, we’ll see how the race pans out,” Vettel said.

“If I win, I finish ahead of everyone so that’s a good result. At this point I think I don’t have to think too much about points and numbers. If there’s a chance to win we have to take it, if there’s no chance we have to take what’s best after that.

“But standing here now, of course I want to win.”

How to follow the Monaco GP on Sky F1 Sunday May 27 Sky F1 digital live blog 12.30pm: Pit Lane LIVE 1.30pm: On the Grid LIVE! 2.10pm: The Monaco GP LIVE!

The crown jewel in the F1 calendar returns and you can watch the Monaco GP on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.