After the misery of last year in the Principality, Sam Bird sealed his maiden victory in Formula Renault 3.5 with a flawless drive to fend off Jules Bianchi.
After clashing with iSport team mate Marcus Eriksson last year in Monaco, Bird produced the perfect tonic with a lights to flag victory to take over the championship lead.
Bianchi applied heavy pressure on his former GP2 rival for much of the race, with the two in a class of their around the streets of Monte Carlo, but it was Bird who won the battle.
He said: “Last year, in the GP2 Series, I didn't have much success here. This weekend, everything went like a dream.
“It's an impressive thing to win in Monaco, so I'm a bit emotional.
“Huge credit must go to the ISR team, who have done a brilliant job. We're top of the championship this evening, but that's not the most important part… there's still such a long way to go in the championship.”
Bird was controlling the race for much of the afternoon ahead of Bianchi, who passed Alexander Rossi off the line, but duo were separated by just four tenths with three laps to go.
Nevertheless, the Force India reserve driver could not find a way through despite a late lunge on the final laps at the Nouvelle chicane and had to settle for second.
Bianchi, picking up his long awaited first points in FR3.5, said: “It was a great race. I pushed from start to finish, even though I preserved my tyres for a few laps.
“Sam Bird didn't make the slightest mistake. Congratulations to him and his team. We needed points today, so it's a job well done.”
After being beaten at the start by Bianchi, Rossi failed to keep up with the leading duo and spent most of the afternoon fending off Kevin Korjus (Tech 1).
Under heavy pressure, Rossi did not crumble and took Arden Caterham’s first ever podium and his first points of the campaign.
He said: “For the Arden Caterham team, it's a great satisfaction to record their first ever podium finish in this discipline in Monaco.
“To be honest, we lacked the performance to keep up with the pace of Sam and Jules. So I defended my position. This result gives us a lot of hope for Spa-Francorchamps, which is my favourite circuit.”
Korjus had to settle for fourth, benefitting from Robin Frijns‘ retirement which ensures the Fortec driver loses his championship lead.
Nico Muller completed the top five for Draco, fending off Lotus’ Marco Sorensen while Nick Yelloly‘s maiden visit to Monaco resulted in seventh place.
Mikhail Aleshin took his first points of the season with eighth ahead of P1’s Walter Grubmuller while Carlos Huertas took the final point after Richie Stanaway crashed at the Swimming Pool on lap 19.
Results - 33 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Sam Bird ISR 46m16.823s 2. Jules Bianchi Tech 1 + 2.689s 3. Alexander Rossi Arden + 36.611s 4. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 + 37.607s 5. Nico Muller Draco + 41.366s 6. Marco Sorensen Lotus + 44.694s 7. Nick Yelloly Comtec + 57.405s 8. Mikhail Aleshin RFR + 58.837s 9. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 1m00.410s 10. Carlos Huertas Fortec + 1m02.734s 11. Arthur Pic DAMS + 1m11.708s 12. Will Stevens Carlin + 1m25.350s 13. Lewis Williamson Arden + 1 lap 14. Zoel Amberg Pons + 1 lap 15. Daniil Move P1 + 1 lap 16. Vittorio Ghirelli Comtec + 1 lap 17. Lucas Foresti DAMS + 2 laps 18. Nikolay Martsenko BVM Target + 2 laps Retirements: Yann Cunha Pons 23 laps Anton Nebylitskiy RFR 20 laps Giovanni Venturini BVM Target 19 laps Richie Stanaway Lotus 18 laps Robin Frijns Fortec 8 laps Jake Rosenzweig ISR 6 laps Andre Negrao Draco 4 laps Kevin Magnussen Carlin 0 laps