Hamilton holds off Ricciardo to win Monaco GP

Hamilton leads Ricciardo
Hamilton leads Ricciardo

In a race that started wet and interrupted by several altercations, the Mercedes team only pitted Lewis Hamilton once from wets to ultrasoft tires and Hamilton did all the rest to keep polesitter Daniel Riccardo behind him and win his 2nd GP of Monaco.

Force India's Sergio Perez held off the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel for 4th and Fernando Alonso drove a smart race to finish 5th for McLaren-Honda.

Strategy – and a blown pit stop from Red Bull – proved decisive. As the early rain eased, polesitter Ricciardo pitted first for intermediate tires, while Hamilton chose to stay out until conditions improved enough for slick rubber.

Ricciardo had enough time in hand to make a further stop and retain his lead, but when he arrived at his pit, Red Bull had no tires ready for him and the Australian was stationary for a very costly 13.6s. He rejoined just behind Hamilton, and that is where he finished.

Sergio Perez took his sixth career podium with third place, after an inspired decision from Force India to switch him early to the hardest of the dry tires. That allowed the Mexican to finish just ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Fernando Alonso secured McLaren’s best result of 2016 to date with a distant fifth place, while Mercedes' Nico Rosberg choked and lost sixth place on the final straight to Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, and as a result of his brain-fade, his championship lead over Hamilton reduced by 19 points.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Williams’ Felipe Massa completed the top ten.

With rain heavy ahead of the start, racing finally began on lap eight after 7 laps behind the pace car with Ricciardo making an excellent start to pull clear of the two Mercedes. Behind him, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer ran out of talent in the tricky conditions, losing his Renault over the white lines on the start-finish straight, spearing into the wall and coming to a halt in the Ste Devote run-off.

Next to run out of talent was Kimi Raikkonen, who slid straight into the barriers coming into the hairpin on lap 11, immediately after the virtual safety car prompted by Palmer’s shunt had been with withdrawn. The Finn broke off his front wing and dragged it under his Ferrari all the way to the chicane before pulling off. In the process he almost forced Haas’s Romain Grosjean into the wall – the stewards will investigate post-race.

Hamilton celebrates the end of his winless streak
Hamilton celebrates the end of his winless streak

Daniil Kvyat’s race started with power issues on his Toro Rosso that put him a lap down before the safety car pulled in, but ended in the wall at Rascasse on Lap 21 after a bungled passing attempt on Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, with whom he had already tangled through the swimming pool section. Again, stewards are investigating. Magnussen retired a few laps later after taking his front wing off against the barriers at Mirabeau.

Max Verstappen went from Spain hero to Monaco zero with his third crash of the weekend, putting his Red Bull into the wall at Massenet on lap 35.

Felipe Nasr retired with smoke inside his Sauber on lap 52, shortly after he and team mate Marcus Ericsson had needlessly collided at Rascasse, the Swede making a late dive for the inside shortly after the Brazilian had been ordered to let him by. Ericsson also ended his race in the pits a few laps later. Stewards are investigating the intra-team incident.

QUOTES

Lewis Hamilton
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. 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 tires 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 tires – 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. When I came out on the slicks it was like driving on ice. It was tough knowing how hard to push and we came out very close together. If he 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.

Nico Rosberg
In racing you have good days and bad days. Today was a bad day for me. 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 tires. 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. 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 tires 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.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
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. 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 savor a special win for Lewis who was at his very best today.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
We woke up this morning to rain, as predicted. Not having pole position, this was a welcome opportunity to find a way to win the race. As it panned out, we started under the safety car which lost us one opportunity. And then, once the race did get underway, it soon became clear from Nico's pace that he had a problem. We're still trying to analyze what that was – but the initial signs are that it was related to brake temperatures. It came to the point where we told Nico he would either need to pick up the pace or let Lewis past. One lap later, he hadn't managed to find that extra pace, so we asked him to move aside – which he did immediately. Great credit to Nico for his team ethic and playing for the overall team result. Unfortunately, his pace didn't recover all afternoon – to the point where he even lost sixth place at the final corner as light rain began to fall once more. We need to look into why that was. Once Lewis was past, he instantly began to stretch away from Nico with pace that was on a par with the leader. Once Daniel 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 tire 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.

DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: pole position

“On the extremes in the beginning we were quick and I did everything I had to. I asked a couple of times how the people on inters were doing but they said that my pace was really good on the extremes so we stayed out and that was no problem. And then they said “box this lap". We put the inters on and then we came out behind Lewis. Then when Lewis pitted we tried to pit the lap later to overcut him. It was all prepared and then I came into the pits and there were no tires.

I actually hate being like this. I hate being miserable. I got a podium in Monaco. I should be extremely happy, grateful and thankful. I’ve been fast now for two races and that’s the positive, but again no win so I’m a little bit sick of being fast and not getting any real rewards. I don’t like being the sad story. To end it on a positive note, we are fast in all conditions, which is good."

MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: 21st

“Disappointed in myself and disappointed for the team, because they worked very hard to get the car ready and I didn’t give them the result they deserved today. We were in a good way, we were in the points and to start from the pit lane and end in the points would have been very good, but I learned from this and hopefully we can come back stronger in Canada.

It was pretty tricky especially in the beginning of the race it was a very slippery track. It got better and better, the track was drying, and I think from then on we had great pace and I was overtaking cars, charging through the field and everything felt well. Then we put the softs on and I locked up. Unfortunately I went a bit off-line and of course then you arrive in the wet area and I was a passenger from there on. That’s racing in the end, it can go up and down very quickly but you shouldn’t back off because of this you should keep positive, keep pushing. I learn a lot from those moments as well and I’m already focusing on Canada now and leaving Monaco behind."

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A very disappointing day. We as a team owe Daniel a huge apology today as we failed to support him in the way we did to get him to his first pole position yesterday. The delay at his pit stop cost him the lead and despite some excellent driving to get close to Lewis, he couldn’t get past, as is so often the case here in Monaco. Max put in some excellent laps to move through the field but unfortunately came unstuck at turn three pushing to improve position. We will review and re-group and all of the team will be aiming to continue our strong form in Canada.

More to follow…..

Results

POS. DRIVER COUNTRY TEAM TIME
1 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES 1:59:29.133
2 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL RACING +7.252s
3 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +13.825s
4 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI +15.846s
5 FERNANDO ALONSO ESP MCLAREN +85.076s
6 NICO HULKENBERG GER FORCE INDIA +92.999s
7 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES +93.290s
8 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +1 lap
9 JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN +1 lap
10 FELIPE MASSA BRA WILLIAMS +1 lap
11 VALTTERI BOTTAS FIN WILLIAMS +1 lap
12 ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ MEX HAAS +1 lap
13 ROMAIN GROSJEAN FRA HAAS +2 laps
14 PASCAL WEHRLEIN GER MANOR +2 laps
15 RIO HARYANTO INA MANOR +4 laps
NC MARCUS ERICSSON SWE SAUBER DNF
NC FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER DNF
NC MAX VERSTAPPEN NED RED BULL RACING DNF
NC KEVIN MAGNUSSEN DEN RENAULT DNF
NC DANIIL KVYAT RUS TORO ROSSO DNF
NC KIMI RÄIKKÃ-NEN FIN FERRARI DNF
NC JOLYON PALMER GBR RENAULT DNF

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