Lewis Hamilton took his first Formula One win of the season ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, as he timed his strategy to perfection, in an action packed 2016 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. The Brit has now halved the points gap to team-mate Nico Rosberg, which now sits at just 26 points.
The race started behind the safety car due to the torrential rain conditions in Monaco with all drivers on the full wet tyres. After seven laps the safety car pulled in and Daniel Ricciardo floored the throttle to get racing underway properly, immediately gapping a slow off the blocks Nico Rosberg in second. The Australian got a fantastic launch to keep the lead as Lewis Hamilton moved up right behind his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate, who looked to be struggling for pace throughout the race. His pace was so slow in fact that on lap 15 he was asked by the team to let Hamilton through, as Ricciardo had managed to steal an eleven second lead on the duo, and they could not waste any further time letting the Australian get further ahead if they were to have any chance of wining the race.
Although it was a brilliant victory for Hamilton, who stayed out on the full wets whilst everyone else pitted for the intermediate tyres, knowing, or perhaps chancing, that the track would dry and he could move straight to slicks. But the story of the day was that when Ricciardo pitted to switch to the dry super-soft tyre, despite being called in by the team to make the change, the mechanics were not ready with the tyres to service the RB12 of the Australian, seeing him lose a massive amount of time whilst he waited for the team to get up to speed, all the time knowing that Hamilton would now be back into the lead.
The Brit had pitted one lap previously to bolt on the ultra-soft tyre, it was then a waiting game to see if the softest of the tyre compounds would last to the end of the race. Despite Ricciardo’s efforts, bringing the gap to Hamilton as close as 0.5 seconds at one point, the Australian was unable to find a way through, and in the end Hamilton took victory by over seven seconds.
There was a contentious moment at one point, as the two front runners vied for position and the lead. Coming into Mirabeau, Ricciardo made an attempted pass on Hamilton, who cut the chicane and then blocked the Australian, pushing him towards the barriers as he came back onto the racing line following his excursion. That incident was under investigation, but the stewards deemed that no further action was necessary.
Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen was also brought back down to earth in Monaco, after winning his maiden grand prix in Spain last time out. The Dutchman had been looking strong despite having to start from the pit lane after destroying the RB12 in the first part of qualifying. After pitting for the intermediate tyres on lap thirteen, Verstappen started to make a surge through the field, finding himself up into ninth place at one point, and still posting fastest laps, three seconds quicker than team-mate and race leader Ricciardo, at that time. But a mistake at Massanet, where he had crashed during final practice on Saturday morning, saw Verstappen retire from the race after losing the RB12 over the crest of the hill, which caused the Dutchman to lock up sharply, finishing in the barriers.
Almost immediately after the safety car had pulled into the pits at the start, Kevin Magnussen pitted to switch to the intermediate tyres and the virtual safety car was deployed when team-mate Jolyon Palmer found the barrier at Ste Devote. It was a major impact for the Brit, who looked to have damaged the whole front of the RS16. Palmer appeared to lose the rear traction as he got on the zebra crossing, which pitched the Renault left and into the wall, torpedoing the Brit across the track and into the barrier, with three wheels now left on the car.
Jenson Button, Felipe Nasr and Daniil Kvyat all chose to pit for the intermediates during the virtual safety car period, before the racing was back underway on lap eleven and they began to set the fastest laps of the race. Which tyre to use was one of the main talking points of the race, as all compounds and types were in use by different drivers throughout the grand prix.
Sergio Perez put in an impressive performance to finish in third position for the Sahara Force India team, managing to keep the Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel at bay for a large chunk of the race despite the German’s attempts to make a move on the Mexican, and positing fastest laps in the final stages. There was a scary moment for the four time world champion on lap 64 as he almost lost the SF16-H at Massenet, after locking up and just keeping his car out of the barrier. But it was a brilliant drive from Perez and a much deserved podium for him and the team.
Fernando Alonso performed a master class in the MP4-31 as he took fifth position, the McLaren F1 team’s highest finish so far this season, keeping the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS of Rosberg behind him for almost the entire race. Despite continued pressure from the German, especially towards the end of the grand prix, he was unable to find a way past the formidable Spaniard. On the final lap Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India stole sixth place from the championship leader as his race continued to spiral. The Brackley based squad did advise Rosberg was having problems with brake temperatures, but other than that there was no real explanation for the German’s poor form here in Monaco.
Hulkenberg completed a strong double points finish for Force India, the German remaining just ahead of the sole Scuderia Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, after team-mate Kvyat encountered issues on the very first lap.
As the pack were led away from the start line, Kvyat was immediately on the radio to advise his team that he was stuck in constant speed, unable to move out of first gear. The Russian pitted, and received a steering wheel change before being sent on his way again, now a lap down on the rest of the pack. The race would go from bad to worse for Kvyat however when the Russian made an opportunistic move on the Renault Sport F1 car of Magnussen at Rascasse. The two went wheel to wheel through the swimming pool, before Kvyat went for a move at the final corner of the complex. The move was never really on, and the Russian took both cars out and into the barriers. Kvyat had to retire the Toro Rosso, whilst Magnussen pitted for a new front wing. The Dane was back in again on Lap 32, after crashing into the barriers at Mirabeau, of his own accord this time, and although the team attempted to give him a new front wing, it was no use, and they had to retire the RS16 from the race, with both of their drivers out of the grand prix.
Jenson Button took ninth place, to earn McLaren some much needed further points. The Brit was one of the first drivers to move onto the intermediate tyres, and then also onto the dry tyres, opting for the super-soft tyre which the Woking based squad had looked stronger on here in Monaco. Despite only being a couple of seconds behind sixth, seventh, and eighth place up ahead of him, he was unable to make a challenge and latch onto the train of drivers or force his way past.
Felipe Massa ended a torrid weekend for the Williams Martini Racing team in tenth and the final points position, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas just behind him in eleventh. The Oxfordshire based squad have struggled from Thursday onwards, with both drivers unable to get a good feeling in the FW38. Despite his problems however, Massa was able to hold up Vettel, Hulkenberg and Alonso, who had all switched to the intermediates whilst the Brazilian was still on full wets, for a number of laps as he clung onto sixth place. It was not until the Brazilian pitted on lap 20 that the three drivers were finally able to break away.
The two Haas F1 drivers were next in the order, with Esteban Gutierrez getting the better of his team-mate Romain Grosjean, and taking twelfth place. There was a scary moment for Grosjean when Kimi Raikkonen, also having a bad weekend in Monaco, almost took the Frenchman out as he got too late on the brakes at the Loews hairpin and smashed into the barrier. As the Finn re-joined the track, with his front wing now trailing underneath the SF16-H, he nearly collided with Grosjean who was lucky to escape unscathed. Raikkonen was not so lucky, and he trudged back to the pits, trailing debris in his wake, to retire the Ferrari. The incident will be investigated by the stewards after the race.
Pascal Wehrlein finished the race in fourteenth position for the Manor Racing team after looking racy at one point in the race, but a ten second penalty received for not sticking to the agreed times under the virtual safety car, put paid to any chances the young German had of scoring any points in the race.
The virtual safety car had been deployed on lap 50 when the two Sauber F1 drivers of Marcus Ericsson and Nasr collided at La Rascasse after a heated battle. Just a lap before Nasr had been told by the team to move over and let team-mate Ericsson through as he was putting in much quicker lap times, but the Brazilian refused. That left Ericsson to take things into his own hands, and the Swede attempted a wild move, which took both drivers out and ended the team’s chances.
Rio Haryanto took the fifteenth and final place for the Manor team, in what was a dramatic and memorable Monaco Grand Prix.
Monaco Grand Prix Race Result
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||+7.252|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+13.825|
|6||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||+1:32.999|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|9||22||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|10||19||Felipe Massa||BRZ||Williams-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|11||21||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||Haas-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|12||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Williams-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|13||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas-Ferrari||+2 Laps|
|14||94||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Manor-Mercedes||+2 Laps|
|15||88||Rio Haryanto||INO||Manor-Mercedes||+4 Laps|
|RET||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||Retired|
|RET||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||Retired|