Points leader Nico Rosberg finishes sixth as championship tightens
Lewis Hamilton put his 2016 bad luck behind him as he scored his first victory of the year in a superbly entertaining Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton had to overcome a strong challenge not from teammate Nico Rosberg, but from pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo, who had to settle for second place.
Hamilton’s final margin of victory was 7.25 seconds. Sergio Perez was third, 13.82 seconds back of the leader. Fourth-place Sebastian Vettel was the only other driver within a minute of the leader at 15.84 seconds behind the winner.
Series points leader Nico Rosberg finished seventh and left Monaco with a 24-point lead in the season standings over Hamilton.
Haas drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean finished out of the points, in 12th and 13th.
After heavy rain through the morning, the race started behind the safety car on a wet track. After seven laps, the field was released only for a virtual safety car to quickly reappear after Renault’s Jolyon Palmer crashed heavily as he crossed the startline.
After a couple of slow laps, the action finally got underway, and it was soon evident that Ricciardo had much better pace than Rosberg, who soon dropped back with what turned out to be a brake temperature issue.
Hamilton grew extremely frustrated from behind before Rosberg was finally told to let his teammate past on lap 16. At that stage, Ricciardo was already a handy 13 seconds up the road, and the Aussie looked completely in charge.
Down the field, drivers had begun to change from full wets to intermediates from immediately after the safety car resumption. However, the two leaders resolutely stayed out on the full wets until Ricciardo came in on lap 23, handing the lead to Hamilton.
Most observers expected Lewis to come in himself on the next lap, but instead he stayed out for lap after lap, still able to put in respectable times with his wet tyres on a drying track. It soon became apparent that his goal was to wait until it was dry enough to go straight from wets to slicks, skipping inters and saving himself a stop.
He finally came in on lap 31, and a lap later Ricciardo came in to make his second stop and also go to slicks. The Aussie should have regained the lead, as Hamilton did not have a great out lap. However his crew was not ready with his tires and it was a disastrously long stop.
He thus came out behind Hamilton, but he was soon right on his tail. We now had a fantastic contest as Hamilton was on the new ultrasoft tire, while Ricciardo had the more durable supersoft – while those next in line, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel, were on the even longer lasting soft, and were putting in good lap times. Rosberg meanwhile fell away in sixth after getting stuck behind Fernando Alonso.
It was now a question of how the tires played out over the remaining 40 plus laps. Ricciardo pushed Hamilton hard, while Lewis had to defend robustly while also trying to eke out the life of his tires. In the closing laps Hamilton edged clear as drizzle in the last couple of laps made life difficult.
Perez took an excellent third for Force India, ahead of Vettel. Alonso took a distant fifth place having held off Rosberg for many laps. In fact right at the end Nico Hulkenberg managed to sneak ahead of the Mercedes man to claim sixth. Rosberg thus took seventh, ahead of Carlos Sainz.
Max Verstappen made good progress from a pitlane start before crashing out, while Kimi Raikkonen was another to retire after hitting the barrier.
Lewis Hamilton scored a victory over Daniel Ricciardo by 7.25 seconds.
|2||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||+7.252s|
|3||SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA||+13.825s|
|6||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA||+92.999s|
|8||CARLOS SAINZ||TORO ROSSO||+1 lap|
|9||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN||+1 lap|
|10||FELIPE MASSA||WILLIAMS||+1 lap|
|11||ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ||HAAS||+1 lap|
|12||VALTTERI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS||+1 lap|
|13||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||HAAS||+2 laps|
|14||PASCAL WEHRLEIN||MANOR||+2 laps|
|15||RIO HARYANTO||MANOR||+4 laps|
|NC||MAX VERSTAPPEN||RED BULL RACING||DNF|
|NC||DANIIL KVYAT||TORO ROSSO||DNF|