Hamilton fends off Ricciardo to win Monaco Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

Lewis Hamilton has finally managed to win a Grand Prix this season, taking victory in perhaps the most prestigious event of the year. The Briton fought off Daniel Ricciardo who lost the lead due to a slow pitstop. Sergio Perez is a surprise third in the principality.

Following days of nothing but sunshine, the weather gods interfered and sprayed some heavy rain over the Monaco circuit during the morning. Forecasters predicted the situation to improve, but at the start of the race, the track was fully wet. Race control as such decided to start the race behind the safety car, which also mandates full wet tyres for everyone.

Max Verstappen, as well as Felipe Nasr started from the pitlane. Verstappen because the team put him in the spare chassis following his crash during qualifying while Sauber made changes to Nasr's car that required him to start from the pits.

Raikkonen meanwhile started from 11th, following a 5 place grid penalty due to an unscheduled gearbox change ahead of Saturday's qualifying.

At the end of the first lap of the race, Kvyat immediately returned to the pits, where he was stuck for an entire lap. Among some checks, he got a new steering wheel. After another lap at constant speed, he returned to the pits again, only to drive straight through it, finding his issues were resolved.

At the end of lap 7, the safety car finally left the track to get the race going for real. Ricciardo was immediately 5 car lengths ahead of Rosberg while Hamilton and Vettel were closely behind Rosberg.

At Renault, Kevin Magnussen immediately pitted to change to intermediate tyres, while at the same time, his team mate, Jolyon Palmer strangely goes into the barriers on the pit straight, ending up head on in the barriers at Ste. Devote. This brought in a virtual safety car period, forcing limited speeds until the track as cleared 3 laps later.

One lap later, Raikkonen hits the outside of Loew's coner, breaking off his front wing. He continued a little further with the front wing stuck under his front left wheel, but eventually retired the car at the chicane out of the tunnel. Raikkonen in that event somewhat blocked Grosjean who tried to pass Raikkonen as he returned to the racing line, forcing the latter to stop and go in reverse to be able to continue without running into the barriers as well.

On lap 14, Vettel was the first front runner to change to intermediates. Button already did so two laps earlier and was reasonably competitive. Ricciardo at the front however was still comfortably fastest, going 2 seconds a lap quicker than the Mercedes duo behind him.

By the end of lap 15, Ricciardo had 13 seconds in hand over Rosberg. Moments later, Hamilton was let past by Rosberg, with the reigning champion immediately sprinting away from his team mate. In fact, Hamilton went on to immediately set the fastest lap thus far, a full second quicker than what Ricciardo managed.

From 6th to 9th, a little train formed behind Massa. The Williams driver was still on the full wets, and closely followed by Vettel, Hulkenberg and Alonso, all of whom had switched to inters around lap 15.

The same is the case for Wehrlein in 12th who baked up a large pack of drivers. As of lap 19, things started moving there, with Button getting past first, and Verstappen as well one lap later, after he managed to get past Magnussen and Bottas in that same train.

On lap 21, Rosberg pitted for intermediates, rejoining in 5th, ahead of the pack led by Massa. Massa however pitted at the same time, resulting in a group of drivers, led by Rosberg, followed by Perez, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Alonso.

On lap 23, Ricciardo pitted to change to intermediates, rejoined the track 9 seconds down on Hamilton who continued on the full wets, while everybody else had switched to the intermediates. Hamilton's tyres though still looked fairly fresh. Ricciardo's first full lap on inters was however 3 seconds faster. Rosberg in third at the time was 25 seconds behind Hamilton, and not running quicker than Hamilton on his full wets.

On lap 29, Markus Ericsson was the first to blink as he pitted for ultrasofts. One lap later, he was followed by numerous others, and 3 laps later in the race, everybody has switched. The biggest loser there though was Ricciardo, who should have comfortably come out ahead of Hamilton, had not it not been that his team did not have tyres ready at the time he arrived in the pits. Still, Ricciardo proved considerably quicker and was trying to get past the race leader soon enough.

That close battle though was first interrupted by Magnussen who broke off his front wing but managed to continue to the pits, but then a virtual safety car was needed following Verstappen's crash up the hill to Casino, at exactly the same spot as he crashed out in FP3. The Dutchman was aggressive and forward thinking throughout the race, but slightly too optimistic there.

That VSC laster just 1 lap. Positions then were Hamilton (on Ultra Soft), Ricciardo (used Super Soft), Perez (Soft) 9 seconds down the road, followed by Vettel (Soft). Alonso was 5th on new super softs, 18 seconds down on Vettel and closely followed by Rosberg (used Ultra Soft). Not far behind were Hulkenberg, Sainz, Button and Massa.

On lap 50, Sauber provide the action, with both drivers first arguing about their speed over the radio, followed by Ericsson trying a desperate move over his team mate to get tangled up. Both ended up in the pits, and retired from the race two laps later.

Meanwhile at the front, Hamilton is at times challenged by Ricciardo through the tunnel, while in some other laps, he's more than a second down.

Toward the end of the race, things essentially settled down. Rosberg notably tried to get past Alonso for 5th, but as he missed the subsequent chicane, he had to allow the Spaniard past again, annulling his action quickly. Rosberg never really came that close to the McLaren driver again and therefore had to settle for 6th, having run behind Alonso for nearly half a race.

2 laps from the end, Carlos Sainz reported rain again, but it was nothing more than a few drops, and in any case too late in the race to have any impact anyway.

While Hamilton charged on to win, Ricciardo backed down early to finish 7 seconds down on the winner. Once that was decided, rain intensified, and Alonso was nearly surprised at the chicane. Nico Hulkenberg though made the best of it, and managed to get past Rosberg on the pit straight to move up into 6th, moving Rosberg to 7th following a very difficult race for him.

Results

Pos.DriverTeamTime
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:59:29.133
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing+7.252s
3Sergio PerezForce India+13.825s
4Sebastian VettelFerrari+15.846s
5Fernando AlonsoMcLaren+85.076s
6Nico HulkenbergForce India+92.999s
7Nico RosbergMercedes AMG+93.290s
8Carlos SainzToro Rosso+1 lap
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren+1 lap
10Felipe MassaWilliams+1 lap
11Valtteri BottasWilliams+1 lap
12Esteban GutierrezHaas+1 lap
13Romain GrosjeanHaas+2 laps
14Pascal WehrleinManor+2 laps
15Rio HaryantoManor+4 laps
NCMarcus EricssonSauberDNF
NCFelipe NasrSauberDNF
NCMax VerstappenRed Bull RacingDNF
NCKevin MagnussenRenaultDNF
NCDaniil KvyatToro RossoDNF
NCKimi RäikkönenFerrariDNF
NCJolyon PalmerRenaultDNF