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Lewis Hamilton wins Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton picked up his first win of the 2016 Formula One season, and chose a great venue to do it, winning the Monaco Grand Prix, beating Pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing by a little over 7 seconds in what was an incredibly exciting race, especially over the first hour or so. Sergio Perez of Force India picked up a memorable third place finish, quelling a late challenge from 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

The race started behind the Safety Car as steady rain left the track wet, forcing the drivers to stay in formation for the first 7 laps. Nico Rosberg was clearly not on the pace today, and the world championship leader was holding back Hamilton in third place as Ricciardo opened up a 12 second gap. Mercedes eventually ordered Rosberg to move over and let Hamilton through, a decision that could prove costly in the end to Rosberg's aspirations of winning his first Drivers' Championship with the German finishing a poor seventh today, seeing his lead over Hamilton cut down to 24 points as a result of Hamilton's win.

Back at the head of the field, strategy proved absolutely crucial as most of the drivers shifted from wet tyres to intermediates and eventually to slicks, but Hamilton's team produced a masterstroke, keeping the Briton out for some extra laps and moving directly from wets to slicks, saving him 28 seconds of time that proved crucial in the final reckoning. Riciardo meanwhile should really have still kept the lead despite his extra pit stop on account of being so much quicker than Hamilton, but an error from his pit crew, who called him in and didn't have the right tyres ready resulted in a marathon pit stop, which resulted in him coming out behind Hamilton, a place he stayed till the end of the race.

On a track that is notoriously tough for overtaking, Ricciardo did have a go at Hamilton, who was lucky to survive not being penalized by the stewards as he skipped the chicane, and then as the Australian tried to overtake, Hamilton squeezed him out, almost pushing his rival onto the barriers, a move that didn't go down well with the Red Bull man.

A second Virtual Safety Car provided more relief to Hamilton, allowing his Ultra Super Soft tyres to get a few bonus laps under them without the threat of Ricciardo attempting to overtake, and that allowed the heat to build up in Hamilton's tyres, bringing him up to race pace, enough to keep Ricciardo at bay till the end.

A delighted Hamilton shared after the match, "This might be the best place ever to have win number 44 - it's been eight years since I won here! What a special day... truly one of the hardest races I can ever remember having. To stay in the zone, not make any mistakes and come out on top is just unbelievable. I walk along here every day and think about the greats who have won this race - the likes of Fangio, Moss, Hill and Senna - and it's a truly amazing feeling to have my name added to that list again."

The Briton added, "It's very unusual that I'm able to take any credit for a strategy decision - but when the team first asked me to box, I could see the track drying and my tyres still felt pretty good. So I told them all that and they said to stay out, which worked out great. I just carried on looking after the tyres - picking up the pace a bit when I saw what times people were starting to do on the intermediates as it dried out. I was matching their times at that stage so I thought "I could actually hold onto this until it's dry". Staying in that window was really tricky, though, as the first two sectors were almost dry. When I came out on the slicks it was like driving on ice."

Ricciardo meanwhile said, “On the extremes in the beginning we were quick and I did everything I had to. I asked a couple of times how the people on inters were doing but they said that my pace was really good on the extremes so we stayed out and that was no problem. And then they said “box this lap”. We put the inters on and then we came out behind Lewis. Then when Lewis pitted we tried to pit the lap later to overcut him. It was all prepared and then I came into the pits and there were no tyres. I actually hate being like this. I hate being miserable. I got a podium in Monaco. I should be extremely happy, grateful and thankful. I’ve been fast now for two races and that’s the positive, but again no win so I’m a little bit sick of being fast and not getting any real rewards. I don’t like being the sad story. To end it on a positive note, we are fast in all conditions, which is good.”

Top 10: 1) Hamilton 2) Ricciardo 3) Perez 4) Vettel 5) Alonso 6) Hulkenberg 7) Rosberg 8) Sainz 9) Button 10) Massa