Lewis Hamilton took his first victory of the 2016 Formula 1 season at the Monaco Grand Prix after a tight duel with Daniel Ricciardo.
Red Bull man Ricciardo took his first F1 pole position, with Nico Rosberg lined up alongside. With torrential rain falling, the race started behind the safety car and it wasn’t until lap eight that the field was released.
In the early laps, Ricciardo was able to build a substantial lead over Rosberg, who was struggling to generate tyre temperature. Hamilton was trapped in third until the call from the Mercedes pit for Rosberg to let Hamilton through.
Hamilton followed Ricciardo at a distance, but was close enough to grab the lead when the Aussie pitted to take on intermediate tyres. Hamilton, however, stayed with his wets until lap 31, switching straight onto slicks.
Ricciardo followed suit on the next lap, but Red Bull bungled the stop and didn’t have the right tyres ready. As he sat in the pits for what must have seemed like an eternity, Hamilton swept past. But that was far from the end of the matter.
Emerging from the pits close behind Hamilton, Ricciardo spent the rest of the race hunting for a way through. His best chance came after a virtual safety car imposed to clear up the mess Max Verstappen left when he crashed for the third time in two days.
Ricciardo was right up the Mercedes’ gearbox when racing resumed and challenged into the chicane. Hamilton ran too deep and bounced over the kerbs; Ricciardo made it round and moved to the outside at the exit, but was forced to back out of it as Hamilton squeezed him towards the barrier.
Hamilton’s lead stretched and shrank over the remaining laps, but he was able to build enough of a buffer to be sure of victory when rain returned a few laps from the end. He was ecstatic with his second win in Monaco; Ricciardo was not a happy bunny, feeling he had been screwed out of the win. As he did a fortnight earlier in Spain.
Force India’s Sergio Perez capitalised on the first round of stops and held Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at bay to take a fine third place finish. Vettel was fourth on a difficult weekend for the Scuderia, while Fernando Alonso was fifth in a much-improved McLaren.
Nico Hulkenberg grabbed sixth from the struggling Rosberg on the run to the line. Carlos Sainz Jr., Jenson Button and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten.
Hamilton now lies 24 points behind Rosberg in the championship standings. Back in 2008, he arrived in Monaco in third place in the points, won the race and went on to win the championship. The first two points have happened again; will history repeat itself?
Up next is the Canadian Grand Prix on 12 June.
Monaco Grand Prix results after 78 laps
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 1:59:29.133
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-TAG Heuer — +7.252
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +13.825
- Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +15.846
- Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — +1:25.076
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1:32.999
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — +1:33.290
- Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — +1 lap
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Esteban Gutierrez — Haas-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Romain Grosjean — Haas-Ferrari — +2 laps
- Pascal Wehrlein — MRT-Merecedes — +2 laps
- Rio Haryanto — MRT-Mercedes — +4 laps
- Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — DNF (crash damage)
- Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — DNF (crash damage)
- Max Verstappen — Red Bull-TAG Heuer — DNF (crash)
- Kevin Magnussen — Renault — DNF (crash damage)
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Ferrari — DNF (crash)
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — DNF (crash damage)
- Jolyon Palmer — Renault — DNF (crash)
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By Only Motors