F1 Monaco Grand Prix result: Hamilton wins in Monte Carlo
- Credit: SEAN RAMSELL
Jubilant Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton produced a storming drive to win the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix.
Starting third on the grid, the 31-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire claimed his first victory of the 2016 season after making just one stop.
Just like in 2008, he started from third in the wet to take the chequered flag around the famous street circuit.
Daniel Ricciardo, who started from pole position behind the Safety Car, finished more than six seconds down on Hamilton in second place following a tense race.
The Australian driver’s hopes of victory were dashed by a sloppy second pit stop by the Red Bull team when the tyres weren’t brought out.
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Sergio Perez completed the podium positions for Force India in third place.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
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Nico Hulkenberg snatched sixth place for Force India on the last lap as the rain came again, overtaking a tip-toeing Nico Rosberg late on.
World championship leader Nico Rosberg crossed the line seventh in the second Mercedes.
The German Silver Arrows star still leads the title race on 106 points, with Hamilton back in second place in the drivers’ standings on 82 points – 24 behind Rosberg.
Hamilton said: “This might be the best place ever to have win number 44 – it’s been eight years since I won here!
“What a special day... truly one of the hardest races I can ever remember having. To stay in the zone, not make any mistakes and come out on top is just unbelievable.
“I walk along here every day and think about the greats who have won this race – the likes of Fangio, Moss, Hill and Senna – and it’s a truly amazing feeling to have my name added to that list again.”
With rain falling, the Monaco street race started behind the Safety Car.
The Safety Car finally came in after seven of the scheduled 78 laps of the Monte Carlo circuit, with pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo leading Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
But the Virtual Safety Car was deployed a lap later after Renault driver Jolyon Palmer crashed at the Sainte Dévote corner.
Hamilton was clambering all over the back of Rosberg’s Mercedes following the restart, but the difficulty in overtaking meant the world championship leader retained second place ahead of his faster Silver Arrows team-mate.
After 13 laps, Ricciardo was eight seconds clear of Rosberg, with Hamilton a further second back.
In clean air, race leader Ricciardo increased his advantage over the Silver Arrows pair as Rosberg drove cautiously ahead of a frustrated – but quicker – Hamilton in third.
Hamilton eventually overtook Rosberg after 16 laps and quickly pulled clear of the German and started to hunt down Ricciardo’s Red Bull.
The Mercedes AMG F1 offical Twitter feed tweeted: “CONFIRMED: @nico_rosberg was asked to let @LewisHamilton past as he was quicker at this stage of the race. And he obliged #TeamSpirit #F1”
Rosberg was the first of the Mercedes men to pit for intermediate tyres on lap 21, with Hamilton still on wets.
With his lead cut to under 10 seconds, Ricciardo also pitted for inters, handing Hamilton the race lead.
“My tyres still feel good,” said Hamilton over the radio.
Ricciardo didn’t take long to close to within three seconds of Hamilton, as the Stevenage-born driver stayed out on a drying track on wets, seemingly with the intention of switching straight to slicks rather than inters when he first pitted.
With 30 laps gone, Hamilton had Ricciardo all over his tail.
Of his aggressive race strategy, Hamilton said: “It’s very unusual that I’m able to take any credit for a strategy decision – but when the team first asked me to box, I could see the track drying and my tyres still felt pretty good.
“So I told them all that and they said to stay out, which worked out great.
“I just carried on looking after the tyres – picking up the pace a bit when I saw what times people were starting to do on the intermediates as it dried out.
“I was matching their times at that stage so I thought, ‘I could actually hold onto this until it’s dry’.
“Staying in that window was really tricky, though, as the first two sectors were almost dry.”
The Mercedes driver finally pitted on lap 31 for UltraSoft tyres, with Rosberg following his Silver Arrows colleague into the pits. The German rejoined the race down in sixth place.
Race leader Ricciardo followed the Mercedes men into the pits but suffered a disastrous stop after having a lengthy wait for the team to bring out his fresh tyres.
That Red Bull blunder allowed Hamilton to take the race lead out on the track, but Ricciardo was soon swarming all over the back of the Mercedes car.
“When I came out on the slicks it was like driving on ice,” admitted Hamilton.
“It was tough knowing how hard to push and we came out very close together.
“If he [Ricciardo] hadn’t had a bad stop I wouldn’t have been ahead.
“But these things happen for a reason – and today the reason was that 44th win.”
After Max Verstappen crashed into the wall, another Virtual Safety Car period followed.
On the restart, the battle between the front two resumed with Ricciardo almost taking Hamilton at Turn 11 before the gap closed.
Hamilton responded with his fastest lap of the race, a 1m 23.979s, and then an even quicker 1m 22.446s.
With lap times tumbling, Hamilton slammed in a lap of 1m 19.778s, although the Hertfordshire man still had Ricciardo within DRS range.
However, nine seconds behind the front two, Sergio Perez was now the fastest man out on track in third place for Force India, with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari just a couple of seconds behinds.
With 55 laps gone, Hamilton had pulled 1.5 seconds clear of Ricciardo, with Rosberg still down in sixth place behind Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
Hamilton’s advantage was still around 1.5 seconds starting lap 68 of 78, with Ricciardo in second, Perez third, Vettel fourth, Alonso fifth and Rosberg sixth, 82 seconds behind the race leader, as the Virtual Safety Car was deployed yet again.
Mercedes star Hamilton pulled further clear in the closing laps to take the chequered flag for his 44th F1 career victory.
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, praised his three-time world champion after claiming his second win in Monaco.
Wolff said: “What an incredible drive from Lewis: he didn’t put a foot wrong, we took some risks together as a team and Lady Luck smiled on us as well.
“It was an amazing race and just what the doctor ordered after everything we have been through together in recent weeks.
“But I feel really bad for Nico, too; he endured a messy race in a car that didn’t have the pace today, a delayed second pit stop that cost him track position and then found himself stuck behind Alonso for the rest of the race.
“It was like all his bad luck came on one day and the result was P7.
“In the first stint we told him to let Lewis pass, as that was our best chance of winning the race at that time.
“The fact that he did so was the gesture of a great team player.”
Wolff added: “But we don’t leave Monaco feeling in any way complacent.
“Red Bull had the performance this weekend and Montreal and Baku will present some very different challenges for us to tackle.
“So we need to keep pushing on performance and keep chasing the root causes of the problems we have experienced.
“For this evening, though, we can also savour a special win for Lewis who was at his very best today.”
Rosberg was naturally disappointed after slipping to seventh after starting on the front row.
“In racing you have good days and bad days. Today was a bad day for me,” said Rosberg.
“I didn’t have the pace to fight for the win and we need to understand why. It was possibly a brake issue – but I don’t know for sure yet.
“I didn’t feel like I could push to the limit at the beginning of the race on the wet tyres.
“It was a simple decision to accept the request from the team to let Lewis past – even if it hurt very much in that moment.
“I was very far off the pace and Lewis quite clearly had the speed to win for the team.
“We’ve always had that rule – if you’re ahead and the other guy has a chance to win, you give him that chance.”
Rosberg added: “From there it just didn’t go my way. I had a tricky pit stop and was held in the box because there was traffic in pit lane.
“So the cars were just streaming by and suddenly I was down to sixth.
“Once you’re behind in Monaco that’s it – you’re stuck. At the end, Nico [Hülkenberg] had a lot more rubber left on his Soft tyres and my UltraSofts were finished, so I lost temperature in the drizzle and lost grip, which let him past too.
“That kind of summed it up, really. I’m massively disappointed with today – I really wanted to win my home race again but it didn’t work out.
“It’s been tough and I’ll probably need a day to take it all in – but then I’ll shift my focus to Canada and a chance to come back stronger.”
Explaining the team’s strategy, Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe said: “Once Lewis was past [Rosberg], he instantly began to stretch away from Nico with pace that was on a par with the leader.
“Once Daniel [Ricciardo] pitted for Intermediates, we had a very interesting situation where Lewis was in the lead and we had nothing to lose strategically – thanks to the buffer he had built over Nico in third.
“We gambled on stringing out the stint until the track was sufficiently dry to change to slicks.
“Fortunately, the wet tyre clung on at a reasonable pace until we made the switch to the UltraSoft and the rest is history.
“A fantastic job from Lewis to maintain the lead in difficult circumstances with changing conditions, traffic, VSC incidents and all sorts – and credit again to Nico for the way he handled a tough situation.
“A word finally to the strategy team, who did a fantastic job today with a bold but brilliant call for Lewis which played a huge role in the win.”