Lewis Hamilton couldn’t be happier after triumphing in an action-packed Monaco Grand Prix that saw multiple collisions and two safety car periods.
The British star kept his head through two hours of chaos and carnage to seal his first ever victory at the Principality, his only mistake – a brush with the armco in the opening laps – ironically sending him on his way to victory:
“At the Tabac corner, there was a lot of water on the track, and suddenly I had oversteer and hit the barrier,” explained Hamilton. “It was just a slight touch, but the tyre was damaged and I had to pit.”
“Fortunately, the first Safety Car period helped me to close the gap to the front. We changed our strategy, and I had to make only one more stop. When I was about 40 seconds ahead the team told me over the radio to take it easy.”
The extra fuel that the Briton took on at the unscheduled stop saw him run long into the race and negotiate the changing weather conditions and safety car periods better than Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa who finished second and third behind the Mclaren driver respectively.
Hamilton was absolutely ecstatic with the result: “I am absolutely over the moon,” exulted the Stevenage-born ace. “To win here in Monaco is the highlight of my career and an occasion I will always remember. It was a very eventful race. What a day and what a result !”
Heikki Kovalainen’s run of bad luck continued with a gear selection problem leaving him stranded on the grid as his rivals began the formation lap.
The problem put the Finn right to the back of the field, just as his contact with Raikkonen in Turkey had done a fortnight ago. This time overtaking would be near on impossible and the McLaren driver, unlike team-mate Hamilton, was unable to use the opportunity to refuel.
The Finnish ace eventually finished eighth picking up the final available championship point after biding his time during the safety car periods and benefiting from others’ mistakes.
“An extremely difficult race with any chance of finishing in a top position already gone when I could not engage a gear at the start of the formation lap,” mulled the 26-year-old.
“Consequently I had to change the steering wheel in the pit lane from where I had to start my race. I tried to push as hard as I could, but could only go at my real pace when there was a gap.”
“It is a pity, because my car was good and the speed was there. At least I scored one point at the end and now look forward to the next Grands Prix where I will go maximum attack to finish with good results.”
McLaren’s senior management were delighted with Hamilton’s victory and acknowledged that had it not been for Kovalainen’s misfortune, a 1-2 finish would have been on the cards for the Woking based outfit.
“Today was a great day – and a fantastic team performance,” said Team Principal Ron Dennis.” “Our guys instigated a brilliant strategy change, under pressure, after Lewis touched the Tabac barrier and damaged his right rear tyre early in the race.”
“Had Heikki not had a problem on the grid, we would have had the pace for a 1-2 finish. That was a disappointment for him and us, but he drove a fantastic race thereafter and his time will surely come.”
“Lewis was sensational and his performance was just terrific,” concurred McLaren-Mercedes Boss Norbert Haug. “We had the best strategy, the best speed and certainly a little luck as well.”