Lewis Hamilton scored the 44th win of his career and his second victory at the Monaco Grand Prix in a dramatic race. Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez took the other podium positions. Hamilton needed this win to close the 43-point gap to his teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship.
The Start behind the Safety Car
Ricciardo started on pole, ahead of the two Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton. After incessant rain during the day, there was a lot of standing water on the track. Under heavily overcast conditions, the race started behind the Safety Car (SC) with all the cars on full wet tyres. Daniil Kvyat was immediately in trouble as he was stuck in constant speed mode. A visit to the pits saw him rejoin the race a lap down.
After the SC came in at the start of lap 8, the drivers went racing in very wet conditions. Ricciardo made a strong getaway and pulled a gap to Rosberg and Hamilton. Jolyon Palmer crashed into the barriers and brought out the Virtual Safety Car (VSC). Rosberg struggled visibly and Hamilton was right behind him for many laps, even as Ricciardo was scampering off into the distance.
Pitstops and the Strategy
When the track started to dry out, led by Kevin Magnussen the drivers down the order pitted and put on the intermediate tyres. Kimi Raikkonen crashed at the hairpin and had to retire. Finally, Mercedes asked the struggling Rosberg to allow Hamilton to pass him. The Briton immediately started cutting into the more than twelve seconds lead of Ricciardo. Even as the leaders pitted for the intermediate tyres, Hamilton stayed out in the lead with the wet tyres and kept up the pace. It was clear that he was going to stay out long enough to put on the slick tyres and with one pitstop less, close the gap to Ricciardo.
On lap 31, Hamilton pitted and put on the ultrasoft tyres. Red Bull responded by calling in Ricciardo, but due to a miscommunication, the pit crew was not ready with the tyres. As precious seconds elapsed, Ricciardo sat in the pits and finally the supersoft tyres were put on. The Australian came out of the pits behind Hamilton. As it had happened all weekend, Mercedes had a problem switching on the ultrasoft tyres. Ricciardo had good pace and got within 0.5 seconds of Hamilton. Even as he pressured Hamilton, the world champion managed to stay ahead.
In the meantime, Perez had slotted into P3 ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Alonso, Rosberg and Hulkenberg behind them. Perez and Vettel on the soft tyres had great pace and were at one point closing the gap to the leaders. The VSC came out every few laps because of the crashes of Magnussen, Kvyat, Gutierrez, Nasr and Ericsson. This helped Hamilton preserve his tyres and make the ultrasoft compounds last for more than 45 laps. Ricciardo had a very real chance to overtake Hamilton as the Briton went too deep at the chicane, but he defended well, to the annoyance of the Australian. The stewards after an investigation cleared Hamilton.
Push to the Chequered Flag
As the rain started to fall gently over the last two laps, Hamilton safely came home for his first win of the 2016 season. A disappointed Ricciardo and an elated Perez completed the podium places. Vettel was the lone finisher for Ferrari at P4. Alonso put in one of the drives of the day to finish P5. Hulkenberg passed Rosberg after the last corner to finish P6 and give Force India a basketful of points. Championship leader Rosberg finished P7, with Sainz, Button and Massa completing the top 10 positions.
Looking ahead to the Canadian GP
For Hamilton who has been on the backfoot for the first five races of the season, this hard fought win restarts his title defense. Now he is only 24 points behind Rosberg, with 15 races to go. Ricciardo was crestfallen on the podium with his team letting him down with their strategy for the second race in a row. But clearly Red Bull will challenge Mercedes very strongly during the rest of the season. The next race in Montreal always produces dramatic races. A very interesting 2016 season lies ahead for all the F1 fans.
Pos. Driver Country Team Time Points
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes 1:59:29.133 25
2 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull Racing +7.252s 18
3 Sergio Perez MEX Force India +13.825s 15
4 Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari +15.846s 12
5 Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren +85.076s 10
6 Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India +92.999s 8
7 Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes +93.290s 6
8 Carlos Sainz ESP Toro Rosso +1 lap 4
9 Jenson Button GBR McLaren +1 lap 2
10 Felipe Massa BRA Williams +1 lap 1
11 Esteban Gutierrez MEX Haas +1 lap 0
12 Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams +1 lap 0
13 Romain Grosjean FRA Haas +2 laps 0
14 Pascal Wehrlein GER Manor +2 laps 0
15 Rio Haryanto INA Manor +4 laps 0
NC Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber DNF 0
NC Felipe Nasr BRA Sauber DNF 0
NC Max Verstappen NED Red Bull Racing DNF 0
NC Kevin Magnussen DEN Renault DNF 0
NC Daniil Kvyat RUS Toro Rosso DNF 0
NC Kimi Räikkönen FIN Ferrari DNF 0
NC Jolyon Palmer GBR Renault DNF 0