Lewis Hamilton put his championship challenge back on course with a masterful victory in mixed conditions at the Monaco Grand Prix, beating Daniel Ricciardo who missed out on what should have been Red Bull’s second victory in as many races.
With rain heavy ahead of lights-out, racing finally began on lap eight behind the safety car, with Ricciardo making an excellent start to pull clear of the two Mercedes. Strategy and a failed pit stop from Red Bull proved decisive. As the early rain eased, pole positioned Ricciardo pitted first for intermediate tyres, while Hamilton chose to stay out until conditions improved enough for slick rubber.
Ricciardo had enough time in hand to make a further stop and regain his lead, but when he arrived at his garage, a miscommunication meant Red Bull had no tyres ready for him and the Australian was stationary for a very costly 13.6s. He rejoined just behind the world champion, a position on which he was never able to improve.
Sergio Perez took his sixth career podium with third place, after an inspired decision from Force India to switch him early to the hardest of the dry tyres. That allowed the Mexican to finish just ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso secured McLaren’s best result of 2016 to date with a distant fifth place, while a very cautious Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg lost sixth place on the final straight to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, with his championship lead over Hamilton reduced by 19 points as a result. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Williams’ Felipe Massa completed the top ten.
Max Verstappen went from Spain hero to Monaco zero with his third crash of the weekend, putting his Red Bull into the wall at Massenet on lap 35. Palmer, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Magnussen, Nasr and Ericsson also retired from race.