Hamilton wins the Monaco Grand Prix as pit-stop error costs Ricciardo

Stunning Monaco Grand Prix win for Hamilton, ahead of a frustrated Ricciardo.

As rain lashed down on the Principality of Monaco, Formula One action began behind the safety car. But after 78-laps around Monte Carlo, Lewis Hamilton stood atop the podium with Ricciardo and Perez to either side as a pit-stop error cost Ricciardo the win and strategy played out to perfection for Hamilton and Perez secured strong results.

On a sunny Saturday in Monaco, Daniel Ricciardo rocketed around the Circuit de Monaco to edge out both Mercedes for pole position. With the first spot on the grid, the Red Bull would have had a clear view into Ste Devote come the start of the race. But as rain lashed down on Sunday morning, the safety car was called into action as the race began.

With a safety car start, all drivers were required to begin the race on the full wet tyres. While Verstappen and Nasr began the race from the pit lane after qualifying woes saw Max crash in Q1 and Felipe’s Q1 end with a plume of smoke billowing from his Ferrari engine.

Nasr was not the only man to have an issue with a Ferrari power unit in Monaco as well, as Daniil Kvyat in Verstappen’s old Toro Rosso developed an issue the moment the race began.

Having started in eight place, the Toro Rosso became stuck in a constant speed mode which forced Kvyat to cruise back to the pits. The team changed his steering wheel and sent him on his way again, however the issue persisted and he pitted again come the end of his second lap.

All in all, the safety car period at the start of the race lasted for seven laps which allowed Kvyat to return to the pits again to attempt and clear his issue. But come the restart, he remained a lap down as Ricciardo led the pack across the line.

Racing however was only underway for half a lap before the Virtual Safety Car was activated as Jolyon Palmer found the barriers on the pit straight.

His team-mate may have hit the pits the moment the safety car pulled in, but as Jolyon applied the throttle down the pit straight his car flicked into the barrier. Replays showed Palmer lost control as he applied throttle over a zebra crossing, with the painted stripes providing less traction and causing Jolyon to lose control before he could react.

Other drivers too hit the pits early on to make the switch for intermediate tyres. One of which was Jenson Button who set the fastest lap of the race when he returned to racing. Ricciardo out in front though replied with a fastest lap of his own as he dropped the Silver Arrows with Rosberg holding Hamilton and Vettel back.

As Ricciardo bolted away, Kimi Raikkonen was taking to the Nouvelle Chicane escape road to retire from the race. Kimi had slipped into the barrier at the Lowe’s hairpin, causing him to break the front wing from his Ferrari. Unfortunately for Grosjean, the Ferrari blocked the Haas at following corner much to Romain’s frustrations as Massa slipped ahead.

Vettel too was slipping in Monaco, but his Ferrari was slipping into the pits unlike his team-mate as he opted for inters. At the time Nico was still holding Hamilton back as Ricciardo stretched his lead more and more each lap, but on the run up Beau Rivage Hamilton slipped by Rosberg for second place after the team asked the championship leader to allow Hamilton through. Lewis however was over 13 seconds behind Ricciardo as he set the fastest middle sector of the race.

After starting the race from the pit lane, Verstappen was among the many on a charge through the lower half of the field. Unfortunately for Bottas, when Verstappen sent one down the inside of Wehrlein at Tabac Valtteri would lose two places after over-running the Nouvelle Chicane as the Finn attempted a move on the Manor that did not pay off.

Another move that did not pay off followed a few laps later as Kvyat let his frustrations get the better of him at Rascasse. Magnussen had made his way ahead of the troubled Toro Rosso in the entry to the swimming pool chicane and it was here where the first piece of contact began with Kvyat tagging the Renault. Then as the pair approached La Rascasse, Daniil dove optimistically down the inside with a late move that sent both into the barrier although Magnussen could continue following a pit stop for a nose change.

As the debris from Kvyat’s broken Toro Rosso was cleared from the penultimate corner, Ricciardo was hunting down Hamilton as Lewis adopted the lead when the Red Bull pitted for intermediate tyres. Rosberg meanwhile was continuing to lap in third place following his change for inters, with the Mercedes also continuing to lead a train of corners around Monaco.

As Hamilton continued to lap on the tyres he began the race with, a dry line began to emerge. In Hamilton’s mirrors, Ricciardo began to emerge as well but with the difficulties the narrow circuit presents Daniel was forced to follow Hamilton closely. Follow him closely until Hamilton darted into the pits for the first time as he took on the ultrasoft tyres.

Lewis was not the first to make the swap for slick tyres as Marcus Ericsson started the trend a lap earlier. But pitting one lap before Ricciardo allowed Hamilton a chance of retaining the lead although the difference was made as Red Bull rushed to Ricciardo’s car with the tyres in hand after he stopped in the box.

Ricciardo however was rapid on supersofts when he emerged from the pit lane and was instantly in touching distance of Hamilton as the pair hit traffic. With that traffic also playing into the hand of Perez as the Mexican sat in third place on soft tyres just 14-seconds off the lead of the race.

The fight for the lead however was temporarily halted as Verstappen locked up through Massenet, ending his race in the barrier and bringing the Virtual Safety Car back out. But when the VSC was deactivated, it was game on with Ricciardo all over Hamilton and Perez closing in on the pair.

As Ricciardo followed Hamilton into Portier, a space appeared for a move but Daniel was forced to back out. But through the tunnel, Ricciardo was on the throttle earlier and a move would have been on had he not lost traction off the racing line.

Hamilton though left the door open at the Nouvelle Chicane the following lap as he ran slightly deep and bounced over the kerb. As Ricciardo moved to his side to make a move, another loss of traction kicked the rear out slightly as Daniel lifted off when Lewis slammed the door shut. Lewis however was deemed to have left enough space for a move following the race stewards investigating the incident.

Hamilton’s struggles on the ultrasoft tyres continued to hamper his speed lap after lap as Ricciardo began to briefly drop off. But the two men in third and fourth were Perez and Vettel with soft tyres allowing them to push like nothing and reduce the lead held by Hamilton and Ricciardo. Rosberg too was picking up his pace, however the man who started the race in second was now in sixth as he lost out to Vettel and Alonso in the pit lane when making the switch to slicks. Alonso though was beginning to hold Nico up, as Hulkenberg closed to within a second.

Regardless of the speed differentials, the lead pack all followed in position lap after lap as Ricciardo hounded Hamilton for the lead. But every time a door was opened and Ricciardo looked to overtake, Hamilton placed the Mercedes perfectly to prevent a move.

Another Virtual Safety Car period soon followed to ease the onslaught momentarily as the two Sauber’s crashed into each other at Rascasse. Nasr had been told by the team to allow his team-mate through, much the same as Rosberg had with Hamilton earlier on. But with Felipe not moving over Marcus attempted an audacious move through Rascasse, like Kvyat earlier on, that sent both into a spin and sprayed carbon fibre across the track as their races came to an end.

With the Sauber’s carnage cleared away, the racing was back underway with Vettel pushing hard in the remaining Ferrari. Sebastian may have been one of the fastest men on the track as he hunted Perez for the final podium place, but at the crest of Beau Rivage a lock up nearly sent the Prancing Horse into the Massenet barrier and claim yet another victim. Vettel though was able to slow enough to stay away from the barrier and continue pounding.

As the final laps of the Monaco Grand Prix came into sight, Hamilton continued to hold a near-two second lead over Ricciardo. Even with ultrasoft tyres approaching 40-laps old, Hamilton was able to post a new fastest lap of the race. All the while Alonso was reporting rain drops were beginning to fall on his visor shortly after yet another VSC period as some form of plastic cover fell onto the pit straight.

With the VSC no longer active, Hamilton dropped Ricciardo by a further two seconds as the duo lapped Jenson Button. But while the Red Bull dropped away from the Mercedes, the Ferrari of Vettel was closing in on the Force India of Perez for third.

Unfortuantely for Vettel, there were not enough laps left in the race to overtake the Force India. Meaning Sergio Perez secured another podium finish in Formula One. As for Sergio’s team-mate, the Force India of Hulkenberg mugged Rosberg across the line to secure sixth place.

As he followed Hamilton across the line, Ricciardo was forced to settle for second after starting from pole and hounding Hamilton all race. Daniel certainly let his frustrations at the team show too as he told them “Save it. Nothing you can say can make that any better,” referring to the pit stop calamity that saw Lewis hold the lead of the race. Before adding on the podium that it was “two weekends in a row now I’ve been screwed [by team strategy]”. This remark refering to the Spanish Grand Prix, where Verstappen won on a two stop race whereas Ricciardo was forced by the team to pit an extra time.

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:59:29
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 7.252
3 Sergio Perez Force India 13.825
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 15.846
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:25.076
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.999
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.29
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1 lap
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1 lap
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1 lap
11 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team 1 lap
12 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 lap
13 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing 2 laps
14 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team 2 laps
15 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing 2 laps
R Marcus Ericsson Sauber
R Felipe Nasr Sauber
R Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing
R Kevin Magnussen Renault F1 Team
R Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
R Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
R Jolyon Palmer Renault F1 Team

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