Monaco was damage limitation for Mercedes, the Silver Arrows struggling on Pirelli’s new hypersoft tyre with extensive graining.

4-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton finished third, behind main rival Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, cutting his championship lead to 14 points.

… while Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas came home in fifth, less than a second behind his countryman, Kimi Räikkönen.

It’s a situation Mercedes is desperate to get on top of, given the hypersoft tyre will again feature at this weekend’s race in Canada - and nowhere to hide if you get it wrong there.

"In Montreal if you lose pace, and you're suffering from degradation, people will pass you very easily," said the team’s trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.

Canada will be a crucial round for Mercedes, with the North American race the first of a tough mid-year schedule, including four races held across five weekends, with Montreal followed by F1’s first-ever triple header… 

… comprising France at Paul Ricard, Austria at the Red Bull Ring and the British Grand Prix at its traditional Silverstone home.

But - Hamilton knows that Monaco is a unique track and that Spain before it, where he dominated, finishing 20-seconds ahead of his teammate, was a far more representative course of what’s to come.

It’s now up to the Brit and his Mercedes team to return to that form to build the title campaign momentum that served him so well last year.

And plenty of people – both inside and out of the F1 paddock – believe that despite a stronger challenge from Ferrari in 2018, it’s Hamilton’s fifth world championship to lose.