Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took his 44th career victory during the chaotic Monaco Grand Prix the other weekend. It was his second win at the Circuit de Monaco and his first for 2016. Team-mate Nico Rosberg had a tough afternoon that saw him finish seventh after a race-long battle in traffic.
Ecstatic, Hamilton after the race said, “This might be the best place ever to have win No. 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 [Juan Manuel] Fangio, [Stirling] Moss, [Graham] Hill and [Aytron] Senna – and it’s a truly amazing feeling to have my name added to that list again. 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 tires 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 tires – 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. It was tough knowing how hard to push and we came out very close together. If he hadn’t had a bad stop I wouldn’t have been ahead. But these things happen for a reason – and today the reason was that 44th win,” he added.
For his part, Rosberg lamented, “In racing you have good days and bad days. Today was a bad day for me. I didn’t have the pace to fight for the win and we need to understand why. It was possibly a brake issue – but I don’t know for sure yet. I didn’t feel like I could push to the limit at the beginning of the race on the wet tires. It was a simple decision to accept the request from the team to let Lewis past – even if it hurt very much in that moment. I was very far off the pace and Lewis quite clearly had the speed to win for the team.”
“We’ve always had that rule – if you’re ahead and the other guy has a chance to win, you give him that chance. From there it just didn’t go my way. I had a tricky pit stop and was held in the box because there was traffic in pit lane. So the cars were just streaming by and suddenly I was down to sixth. Once you’re behind in Monaco that’s it – you’re stuck. At the end, Nico [Hülkenberg] had a lot more rubber left on his Soft tires and my UltraSofts were finished, so I lost temperature in the drizzle and lost grip, which let him past too. That kind of summed it up, really. I’m massively disappointed with today – I really wanted to win my home race again but it didn’t work out. It’s been tough and I’ll probably need a day to take it all in – but then I’ll shift my focus to Canada and a chance to come back stronger,” he added.
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff was all praises for Hamilton. He said, “What an incredible drive from Lewis: he didn’t put a foot wrong, we took some risks together as a team and lady luck smiled on us as well. It was an amazing race and just what the doctor ordered after everything we have been through together in recent weeks. But I feel really bad for Nico, too; he endured a messy race in a car that didn’t have the pace today, a delayed second pit stop that cost him track position and then found himself stuck behind [Fernando] Alonso for the rest of the race. It was like all his bad luck came on one day and the result was P7 [seventh place]. In the first stint, we told him to let Lewis pass, as that was our best chance of winning the race at that time.
“The fact that he did so was the gesture of a great team player. But we don’t leave Monaco feeling in any way complacent: Red Bull had the performance this weekend and Montreal and Baku will present some very different challenges for us to tackle. So we need to keep pushing on performance and keep chasing the root causes of the problems we have experienced. For this evening, though, we can also savor a special win for Lewis who was at his very best today,” he added.