Monaco Grand Prix: Red Bull mistake puts Hamilton back on top

Lewis Hamilton claimed his first victory of the season on Sunday at the Monaco Grand Prix after Daniel Ricciardo’s botched pit stop handed Hamilton the win.

Sergio Perez impressed for Force India and claimed the final podium spot behind Ricciardo, whilst the championship leader Nico Rosberg struggled and came home in a disappointing seventh place after being pipped to the line by Nico Hulkenberg for sixth place.

After a dry qualifying session the day before, overnight rain added more suspense to what was already going to be a fascinating battle. With the rain not easing up come the start of the race, the Monaco Grand Prix started behind the safety car for the first time.

The safety car was called in after seven laps and allowed the race to begin for real. Daniel Ricciardo started to pull away from the pack and bulit up a 14 second lead as Nico Rosberg who qualified ahead of eventual winner Lewis Hamilton struggled in his Mercedes.

Monaco is a tricky enough circuit in the dry let alone in the wet. Renault’s struggle continued Jolyon Palmer dropped his Renault whilst crossing the painted white zebra crossing and crashed into the barrier on the pit straight on the restart.

Kimi Raikkonen retired from the race a few laps later. The Finn’s front wing was stuck under the the front of his Ferrari after a collision with the barrier at Lowes Hairpin. This made steering almost impossible causing Raikkonen to block the Haas of Romain Grosjean which almost caused the Fenchman to hit the wall.

It was clear that Hamilton was the faster of the Mercedes pair and was stuck behind Rosberg allowing Ricciardo streak ahead. The German was eventually told to let Hamilton through as Rosberg struggled with brake problems.

With the sun starting to burst through the clouds the track began to dry. Some drivers opted to roll the dice and make the switch to the intermediate tyres as soon as the safety car came in however, Hamilton had other ideas.

Ricciardo pitted for the intermediate tyres with Hamilton opting to stay on the full wet compound, a decision that handed the defending champion the lead.

Mercedes played the long game with Hamilton before making his one and only stop for the ultra-soft compound as Ricciardo was biting away at Hamilton’s lead. It was the first time that the purple marked tyre had ever been used in a race. 

Hamilton’s stop put the Red Bull back into the lead until the team made a critical mistake at the Aussie’s stop. The team did not have his tyres ready for him holding Ricciardo in his pitbox waiting for fresh tyres. After a delay and his lead gone and Ricciardo was sent on his way on the super-soft tyres.

The race was well and truly on with Hamilton initially struggling to bring his ultra-soft tyres up to temperature and was falling back to a charging Ricciardo. The Australian almost found a way past Hamilton until a loss of traction almost put Ricciardo into the wall as Hamilton moved over to take the racing line as the pair raced toward Tubac.

Whilst Hamilton and Ricciardo were fighting it out, Sergio Perez was quietly making his way through cars and found himself closing in on the leaders at an astonishing rate after switching to the dry tyres at the perfect time. His chance to the soft tyres got Perez ahead of both Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

There was drama too at Sauber who tried their best to contain their two angry drivers. Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were frustrated after being stuck behind Grosjean. Depsite being told to let Ericsson through to allow the Swede a chance to attack the Haas, Nasr refused.

The result was utter stupidity. Ericsson took matters into his own hands at Rascasse and collected teammate Nasr. The incident took both drivers out the race with Ericsson being hit with a three-place grid drop at the Canadian Grand Prix for his moment of madness 

Ricciardo in the closing stages backed off to save his tyres to then mount another attack at Hamilton but could not find a way past the Brit who went to take just his first victory of the season and his first in Monaco since 2008.  Nico Rosberg’s championship lead now stands at just 24 points.