Lewis Hamilton has finally won a race this season in a thrilling Monaco Grand Prix, while a pit stop heartbreak for Daniel Ricciardo cost him the top result.
The defending champion finished the 78-lap rain-hit race seven seconds clear from Red Bull’s Ricciardo with Sergio Perez taking the final podium spot for Force India.
Overnight rain continued throughout the morning in Monaco with conditions sufficiently treacherous that the race was started under the safety car for the first time in its history.
After seven laps, the safety car was called in and Ricciardo pulled away in the lead, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton.
It became clear Hamilton was the faster of the two Mercedes, with Rosberg struggling with brake temperatures, so the team instructed the German to let Hamilton past.
Hamilton set off in chase of Ricciardo and although the track was drying out, he chose to stay out on full wets when Ricciardo pitted for intermediates and therefore the lead.
Ricciardo caught Hamilton quickly and retook the lead when the Mercedes pitted for the ultra-soft at the end of lap 31 of 78.
The honey badger pitted next time around, but a miscommunication meant the tyres were not ready when he reached the pitbox.
Eventually, the team fitted super-softs and got him out, but as he exited the pits Hamilton swept around the outside to retake the lead.
That slow pit stop ultimately cost Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo the Monaco Grand Prix victory. As overtaking around the tight, twisty circuit is nearly impossible.
Ricciardo closed on Hamilton as they went through the tunnel with the Mercedes cutting the chicane and then blocking his rival as he came under attack on the outside on the run to Tabac.
Ricciardo waved his hand in frustration but the race stewards decided to take no further action after investigating the incident.
Hamilton then absorbed the huge pressure from Ricciardo to keep the lead and secure his 44th career victory and first since he clinched his third world title in last year’s United States Grand Prix.
Perez jumped to third with well-timed tyre changes and then resisted heavy pressure from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to give Force India its first podium of the season.
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen retired early on when he crashed at the Loews hairpin, blocking Romain Grosjean as he tried to rejoin and then pulling off at the exit of the tunnel with his front wing lodged underneath the car.
Fernando Alonso finished a brilliant fifth place with Nico Hulkenberg stealing sixth off a low-key Rosberg on the final lap.
That means Hamilton has cut the gap to title rival Rosberg in the championship to 24 points.
Carlos Sainz Jr, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa completed the top ten.
Sauber asked Felipe Nasr to let his team-mate Marcus Ericsson by but Nasy questioned the decision.
Ericsson then tried a move at Rascasse and the two cars collided, resulting in both retiring soon afterwards.
As for Max Verstappen. This was a hero to zero moment for the Red Bull driver.
He fought his way up into the points after starting from the pit lane but crashed at Massenet – his third crash of the weekend.
It was a tough race for Renault with Jolyon Palmer crashing when he lost grip on the pits straight kink as the race began and Kevin Magnussen hitting the barrier at Mirabeau.
Magnussen had previously collided with Daniil Kvyat at Rascasse, with Kvyat later retiring, having been a lap down after suffering a problem with his steering wheel at the start.
So a great result for Lewis Hamilton. His 44th career victory in such a thrilling race. Red Bull let Daniel Ricciardo down with a slow pit-stop but kudos to Sergio Perez in scoring a podium for Force India.
Monaco Grand Prix, race results after 78 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h59m29.133s
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 7.252s
3 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 13.825s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 15.846s
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m25.076s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m32.999s
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.290s
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1 Lap
10 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2 Laps
14 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 2 Laps
15 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes 2 Laps
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari Retirement
– Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari Retirement
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault Retirement
– Kevin Magnussen Renault Retirement
– Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Retirement
– Jolyon Palmer Renault Retirement
1 Nico Rosberg 106
2 Lewis Hamilton 82
3 Daniel Ricciardo 66
4 Kimi Raikkonen 61
5 Sebastian Vettel 60
6 Max Verstappen 38
7 Felipe Massa 37
8 Valtteri Bottas 29
9 Sergio Perez 23
10 Daniil Kvyat 22
11 Romain Grosjean 22
12 Fernando Alonso 18
13 Carlos Sainz 16
14 Nico Hulkenberg 14
15 Kevin Magnussen 6
16 Jenson Button 5
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Esteban Gutierrez 0
19 Jolyon Palmer 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Pascal Wehrlein 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0
1 Mercedes 188
2 Ferrari 121
3 Red Bull-Renault 112
4 Williams-Mercedes 66
5 Force India-Mercedes 37
6 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 30
7 McLaren-Honda 24
8 Haas-Ferrari 22
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber-Ferrari 0
11 Manor-Mercedes 0
Next race: Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal. June 10-12.