MONACO • Lewis Hamilton won an incident-filled Monaco Grand Prix yesterday to slash his team-mate Nico Rosberg's lead over him in the Formula One world championship from 43 points to 24.
It was the Mercedes driver's first win for seven months, since he claimed his third world championship with victory in Austin in the United States last October, and brought to an end a miserable run of luck and form this season.
It was Hamilton's second win on the famous Mediterranean street circuit, and the 44th of his career. It also repeated his 2008 triumph when he started third and won in wet conditions.
The Briton had to hold off a persistent challenge from Daniel Ricciardo and the Red Bull driver looked the quicker man at times.
But the Australian paid the penalty for a bungled pit stop after 32 laps that cost him victory, when his team did not appear ready for him to come in. He finally came home second, 7.2 seconds behind the three-time world champion.
I prayed for a day like this and it came through so I feel blessed. That was the longest run after I stopped for those tyres.
LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes driver, on winning his second Monaco GP race of his career.
He once again can consider himself unlucky in a difficult season for him. He also appeared to be blocked by Hamilton at the chicane but there was no penalty for the British driver. Force India's Sergio Perez had a fine drive to finish third.
The key to Hamilton's win was the decision to keep him on wets for as long as possible, before switching him on to slicks at the end of the 31st lap.
"Thank God that today went as I'd hoped," said Hamilton, who stopped to give singer and songwriter Justin Bieber a swig of his champagne in the podium celebrations.
"A big thank you to the team. I'm kind of lost for words. I prayed for a day like this and it came through so I feel blessed. That was the longest run after I stopped for those tyres."
TWICE THEY MUCKED UP
It's the second week in a row that I've been sc***ed. I got called in by the team, so they should have been ready.
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Red Bull driver, on the bungled pit stop which cost him the race win.
Ricciardo's second stop put him on slower intermediate rubber but he was still able to put Hamilton under intense pressure.
An angry Ricciardo, who had also led in Spain two weeks ago until a strategy error handed the win to 18-year-old Dutch team-mate Max Verstappen, said afterwards: "It's the second week in a row that I've been sc***ed. I got called in by the team, so they should have been ready."
Rosberg had a poor race and was pipped to sixth by Nico Huelkenberg just before the end.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz came in eighth for Toro Rosso, while Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, finished ninth in the second Honda-powered McLaren ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams.
Conditions appeared to worsen in the minutes leading up to the start and it seemed a wise move to start the action behind a safety car.
MONACO GP RESULTS
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 59min 29.133sec
2 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +7.252sec
3 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +13.825
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +15.846
5 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +1:25.076
6 Nico Huelkenberg (Ger) Force India +1:32.999
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes +1:33.290
8 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso 1 lap
9 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1 lap
10 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1 lap
1 Nico Rosberg 106 points
2 Hamilton 82
3 Ricciardo 66
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 61
5 Vettel 60.
1 Mercedes 188
2 Ferrari 121
3 Red Bull 112
4 Williams 66
5 Force India 37.
But the former champion Nigel Mansell and Hamilton were crying out for it to come in before it did, at the end of the seventh lap, when the race proper got under way.
The difficulty of the conditions was obvious straight away, when Jolyon Palmer lost control of his Renault and crashed out.
Later Max Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat also crashed, as did the Sauber pair of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
Ricciardo, who was on pole, immediately started to pull away and Hamilton looked frustrated behind a slow Rosberg.
At the end of the 16th lap, Hamilton finally got past Rosberg, but only after Mercedes had instructed the German to move over because he appeared to have trouble with his brake temperature.
Hamilton showed what he is capable of by pulling out two purple laps and after only four laps he was 10.3sec ahead of Rosberg.
He deserved his win after such a difficult season - but it was hard not to feel sorry for Ricciardo.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE