Monaco is considered to be a true challenge of man and machine. The tight and twisty streets of the Principality leave absolutely no room for error, with cars running a few milimetres away from the barriers. Indeed, small mistakes led to multiple crashes throughout the weekend, most notably for the Renault pairing of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen and Spanish GP winner Max Verstappen.
Heavy showers and changing conditions added to the challenge, with the best drivers shining out on Sunday. We list down five of them.
Lewis Hamilton’s strategic gamble to skip the intermediate tyres paid off in Monaco as he recorded his first victory of what’s been a difficult season so far.
Hamilton spent first quarter of the race stuck behind teammate Nico Rosberg, costing him crucial time to early race leader Daniel Ricciardo. When released, the British driver was left with a mountain to climb, with Ricciardo already 12 seconds up on the road
But when Ricciardo made his pitstop for a set of intermediate tyres, Hamilton carried on, gaining track position over the Australian.
The British driver eventually skipped the intermediate tyres altogether, directly switching to slick tyres as the track dried up.
Once the pitstops were settled, Hamilton defended beautifully from Ricciardo, often touching the limit, but not going a step beyond.
Daniel Ricciardo should have won the Monaco Grand Prix, had it not been for a botched pitstop by his team Red Bull.
Ricciardo took a stellar pole position on Saturday with a blistering time of 1:13.622, effectively sealing his chances of a victory around the Principality.
During the race, too, he was in sublime form, establishing a 12 second buffer over Rosberg’s Mercedes. When Hamilton passed Rosberg and started setting a string of fastest laps, Ricciardo responded to the Brit’s pace, maintaining a comfortable gap to him.
When Hamilton pitted for his sole tyre change on lap 31, Ricciardo stayed out for another round and put in a quick in-lap. Hamilton, meanwhile, struggled to get heat into his tyres and should have fallen behind the Australian.
But with Ricciardo’s held back by a slow stop, it was Hamilton who led the race following the pitstops.
Thereafter, the Australian refused to give up, constantly piling pressure on Hamilton, and nearly nearly passing him at a couple of locations. In the end, however, he had to settle for second.
Sergio Perez has developed a reputation of seizing whatever opportunity that comes his way. And when a wet/dry race around Monaco presented a chance to take a podium finish, Perez was there to take it.
With call to switch to intermediate tyres on his hands, Perez perfectly timed his pitstop on lap 21, gaining a number of positions over other drivers.
His second stop was also timed well, allowing him to move ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Despite the SF16-H known to be a quicker car, Perez drove brilliantly to never let the German close in on him and steal his rostrum slot.
McLaren were expecting a strong result in Monaco, with the characteristics of the circuit negating the disadvantage of the Honda engine.
And although the team struggled to match its midfield rivals in the dry, it did manage to pull off a top-five result thanks to the changing conditions.
Unlike Perez, Alonso benefitted the most from his second pitstop, jumping over Nico Rosberg and Carlos Sainz to move up to fifth - a position he maintained till the end of the race. He had originally started ninth.
Much like Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg was left to rue a missed opportunity in Monaco.
Having started fifth, Hulkenberg was in a prime opportunity to steal a podium finish. He had been in unison with the car all weekend and was confident he had the pace to make it to the top-three.
But Force India pitted him too early, six laps earlier than Perez, dropping him out in traffic. The time so lost behind the Williams of Felipe Massa proved costly as he dropped down the order.
The only consolation was an opportunistic move over Rosberg on the final lap that moved him up to sixth.
But seeing his teammate Perez up on the podium won’t go down well with the German.
by Rachit Thukral