01192018

Lewis Hamilton clinches Monaco Grand Prix win in action-packed race as Brit takes advantage of botched Daniel Ricciardo pit stop to claim his first victory of the Formula One season

Lewis Hamilton is a winner again. Seven months after his last victory. And this was among the best of his life. His world championship has caught fire.

It was the most pulsating Monaco Grand Prix of recent memory – a wet-dry race, a test of nerve through the narrow streets, a strategic conundrum, and a fierce fight for victory by two brave and brilliant drivers. And at the end of 78 laps of drama it was Hamilton celebrating in front of Prince Albert for the second time in his career.

It was a consummate victory by the Briton – one to sit alongside his triumph at Silverstone in the wet in 2008. It was achieved in a Mercedes car that, for once, was not the fastest on track. That was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who finished second after a long duel at the front with Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton throws the winner's trophy in the air in Monte Carlo as Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene applaud looking on

Lewis Hamilton throws the winner’s trophy in the air in Monte Carlo as Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene applaud looking on

Hamilton celebrates victory in front of a dejected looking Daniel Ricciardo (left) and Sergio Perez who claimed a podium for Force India

Hamilton celebrates victory in front of a dejected looking Daniel Ricciardo (left) and Sergio Perez who claimed a podium for Force India

Hamilton celebrates by spraying champagne at a photographer as he looks to get his world championship battle back on track

Hamilton celebrates by spraying champagne at a photographer as he looks to get his world championship battle back on track

Hamilton could barely contain his joy after exiting his car following the race where he ended his winless streak in 2016

Hamilton could barely contain his joy after exiting his car following the race where he ended his winless streak in 2016

Hamilton celebrates in Parc Ferme, with the cars of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull (right) and Sergio Perez's Force India flanking the Mercedes

Hamilton celebrates in Parc Ferme, with the cars of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull (right) and Sergio Perez’s Force India flanking the Mercedes

Hamilton was congratulated by singer Justin Bieber after winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time in his career

Hamilton was congratulated by singer Justin Bieber after winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time in his career

Bieber drinks from Hamilton's winning champagne bottle after the Mercedes star celebrates his post-race victory around Monte Carlo

Bieber drinks from Hamilton’s winning champagne bottle after the Mercedes star celebrates his post-race victory around Monte Carlo

Hamilton also poured contents from the champagne bottle over the rear wing of his Mercedes following his first victory since September

Hamilton also poured contents from the champagne bottle over the rear wing of his Mercedes following his first victory since September

Having been cost victory by a mistake by his Red Bull team in a pit stop, Ricciardo claimed he had been screwed two weeks running after strategic errors in the Spanish Grand Prix also cost him victory to the benefit of his team-mate Max Verstappen

Having been cost victory by a mistake by his Red Bull team in a pit stop, Ricciardo claimed he had been screwed two weeks running after strategic errors in the Spanish Grand Prix also cost him victory to the benefit of his team-mate Max Verstappen

FORMULA ONE MONACO GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND CURRENT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:59:29.133

2. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull +00:07.252

3. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 00:13.825

4. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 00:15.846

5. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 01:25.076

6. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 01:32.999

7. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 01:33.290

8. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 1 lap

9. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1 lap

10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 1 lap

11. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1 lap

12. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Haas 1 lap

13. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas 2 laps

14. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Manor 2 laps

15. Rio Haryanto (Indonesia) Manor 4 laps

Not classified:  

16. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 26 laps, 17.Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 29 laps, 18. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 44 laps, 19. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Renault 45 laps, 20. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 58 laps, 21. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 67 laps, 22. Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault 72 laps

Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes GP: 1min 17.939secs

1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 106pts

2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 82

3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 66

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 61

5 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 60

6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 38

7 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 37

8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 29

9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 23

10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 22

11 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 22

12 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 18

13 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Toro Rosso 16

14 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 14

15 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault 6

16 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 5

17 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1

18 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas 0

19 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 0

20 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber 0

21 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor 0

22 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber 0

23 Rio Haryanto (Ina) Manor Racing 0

Constructors standings: 1 Mercedes 188pts, 2 Ferrari 121, 3 Red Bull 112, 4 Williams 66, 5 Force India 37, 6 Toro Rosso 30, 7 McLaren 24, 8 Haas 22, 9 Renault 6, 10 Sauber 0, 11 Manor 0

 

Despite Ricciardo being called to come into the pits, his Red Bull mechanics were not ready to put on his slick tyres – costing him the lead

Despite Ricciardo being called to come into the pits, his Red Bull mechanics were not ready to put on his slick tyres – costing him the lead

Ricciardo's (right) botched pit stop cost him vital seconds as he was passed by Hamilton on the pit-lane exit coming out of Sainte Devote

Ricciardo’s (right) botched pit stop cost him vital seconds as he was passed by Hamilton on the pit-lane exit coming out of Sainte Devote

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton started Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix third on the grid but took advantage of a botched Daniel Ricciardo pit stop

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton started Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix third on the grid but took advantage of a botched Daniel Ricciardo pit stop

The reigning world champion (left) and Red Bull's Australian driver (right) were involved in an entertaining battle in Monte Carlo 

The reigning world champion (left) and Red Bull’s Australian driver (right) were involved in an entertaining battle in Monte Carlo 

Ricciardo secured the first pole position of his career  and looked comfortable in the early stages of the race before the slow pit stop

Ricciardo secured the first pole position of his career and looked comfortable in the early stages of the race before the slow pit stop

Ricciardo throws his hand up in protest after being squeezed out of a passing position by Hamilton on the exit of the Nouvelle chicane

Ricciardo throws his hand up in protest after being squeezed out of a passing position by Hamilton on the exit of the Nouvelle chicane

Ricciardo attempts to chase down Hamilton on a drying track as spectators in stands and boats watch on out of Tabac corner

Ricciardo attempts to chase down Hamilton on a drying track as spectators in stands and boats watch on out of Tabac corner

The victory, against the odds, takes Hamilton to within 24 points of the championship summit, having broken a losing streak stretching back to Austin on October 25 last year.

As for the championship leader, Nico Rosberg, it was a day to forget. Once the safety car under which the race started in rainy conditions made way after eight sterile laps, the German wanted for speed.

His Mercedes team later said he had been ‘struggling with brake temps’. It sounded little more convincing than ‘his hair got in his eyes’. And it should be noted that if there was not a genuine reason for his tardiness in the wet then his performance was so woeful that it would undermine his validity as world champion should he take the crown.

It reminded me of Felipe Massa here and at Silverstone in the wet in 2008 – the Brazilian was so wobbly and error-strewn that he could not be pronounced, morally, as the world No 1 driver.

Whatever the cause of Rosberg’s sluggishness, Mercedes instructed him to let Hamilton pass. He obligingly did so on lap 16. One wonders whether Hamilton would have been so acquiescent if the roles had been reversed. And what happened to Mercedes’ policy of letting their men race wheel-to-wheel?

Whatever the answers to those questions, it worked in so far as they gave themselves a chance of winning a race that Rosberg was losing rapidly. After starting second behind Ricciardo and a place in front of Hamilton, Rosberg was 10.3sec off the Red Bull in the space of four laps of real competition once the safety car had come in. He was delaying Hamilton hugely.

Now the big strategy call of the race. The track was drying and every car but one, Hamilton’s Mercedes, came in to change from wet to intermediate tyres. When Ricciardo went in to be re-shod after 23 laps, his lead over Hamilton was 11.2sec.

Heavy rain caused major problems for a number of the Formula One drivers – with Sunday's race starting under the safety car

Heavy rain caused major problems for a number of the Formula One drivers – with Sunday’s race starting under the safety car

Brit Jolyon Palmer, who races for Renault, endured a disastrous afternoon after he crashed his car into the barrier on the straight

Brit Jolyon Palmer, who races for Renault, endured a disastrous afternoon after he crashed his car into the barrier on the straight

Renault's Formula One driver  Palmer's car is lifted by the crane after crashing during the incident packed Monaco Grand Prix

Renault’s Formula One driver Palmer’s car is lifted by the crane after crashing during the incident packed Monaco Grand Prix

Max Verstappen crashed at the top of the hill after Sainte Devote, ending a poor weekend for the 18-year-old following a qualifying crash

Max Verstappen crashed at the top of the hill after Sainte Devote, ending a poor weekend for the 18-year-old following a qualifying crash

The question was whether Hamilton, who now took the lead for the first time, could stay in charge against the fast-charging Ricciardo long enough for the track to dry adequately to allow him to move straight from wets to slicks? Hamilton’s lead went down from 8sec to next to nothing, but that was fine.

Hamilton then went in for his tyre change on lap 31 – going to ultra-softs. Ricciardo came in a lap later to move from intermediates to slicks – super-softs, in his case. But the Red Bull team were at sixes and sevens, and Ricciardo’s car sat motionless for some three or four seconds while they carried over the right rubber.

That made a pivotal difference. It cost Ricciardo the race. He emerged a small fraction behind Hamilton, but he pushed hard. At one point Hamilton ran askew at the chicane and Ricciardo almost passed him, only to find no room between Hamilton’s right flank and the barrier. Ricciardo waved his hand in anger at his rival’s obduracy.

There were a few other spills, notably for Jolyon Palmer of Renault, who lost control on the white paint of the zebra crossing coming towards Sainte Devote. Splat. A virtual safety car was deployed.

Kimi Raikkonen lost control at the hairpin. Max Verstappen, of Red Bull, Palmer’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen, the two Saubers, of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, and Daniil Kvyat, of Toro Rosso, all crashed out.

Late rain fell. But Hamilton kept it on the tarmac. His margin over Ricciardo was 7.2sec. Sergio Perez was third. Rosberg was seventh, losing a place at the end to Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.

Theo Walcott, who plays for Premier League giants Arsenal, was present in Monte Carlo alongside tennis star Caroline Wozniacki (right)

Theo Walcott, who plays for Premier League giants Arsenal, was present in Monte Carlo alongside tennis star Caroline Wozniacki (right)

Minttu Virtanen (left), partner of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen walks down the paddock  prior to the race around Monte Carlo

Minttu Virtanen (left), partner of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen walks down the paddock prior to the race around Monte Carlo

Leicester City's Premier League title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri (left) returned to Monaco to watch Sunday's spectacle 

Leicester City’s Premier League title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri (left) returned to Monaco to watch Sunday’s spectacle 

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