F1 Grand Prix Of MonacoFinal
Hamilton wins Monaco GPMay 25, 2008 - 3:42 PM By Ian Parkes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
MONTE CARLO, Monaco (Ticker) - Lewis Hamilton realized a boyhood dream Sunday by claiming victory in an action-packed Monaco Grand Prix to regain control of a furious fight for the Formula One world title.
After an early run into the barriers on a wet circuit as the rain fell, Hamilton managed to hold his nerve, becoming only the fifth British native to take the checkered flag.
"This is the highlight of my career, and it will be the highlight for the rest of my life," Hamilton said.
In claiming his sixth triumph in 23 starts, Hamilton joined Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard as being crowned king of the Principality.
"I apologize for hitting the barrier, but we made up for it," Hamilton said. "Now let's go party!"
Rainy conditions meant the race ran for the full two hours, with 76 of the 78 laps completed.
Rather than watching a dull procession around the tight, twisty streets of Monte Carlo, the public who pay through the nose for tickets for Formula One's blue ribbon event were given real value for money.
The first incident, though, was unexpected and occurred prior to the race unfolding, as Heikki Kovalainen failed to pull away from the grid for the warmup lap.
After Hamilton had made a superb start to pass Kimi Raikkonen on the run down to Sainte Devote, Jenson Button became the first on-track casualty.
It was the start to a catalyst of events, as the rain steadily fell for the first 20 minutes, and expected mayhem ensued.
Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock soon required new nose cones for their Williams and Toyota cars respectively, all within the first three laps.
Then Hamilton clipped a barrier on the entry to Tabac, puncturing his right-rear tire and forcing him into an unexpected pit stop.
However, by a strange quirk of fate it played into his hands.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso slid into a barrier in his Renault, and like Hamilton he too damaged his right-rear tire.
Within seconds, Coulthard lost the back end of his Red Bull on entry to Casino Square, clouting a barrier and forcing him out of the race.
Coulthard then was immediately hit from behind by Sebastien Bourdais after the Frenchman had lost his Toro Rosso on the same part of the circuit, forcing the safety car into play.
Alonso made a second error when he punted into the side of Heidfeld at Loews hairpin as the incidents continued unabated, and still with only 14 laps run at that stage.
Massa almost joined the list of casualties at Sainte Devote as he slid off into the run-off area, allowing Kubica to take the lead.
Then the race and a drying track started to come to Hamilton, and as Kubica and Massa were eventually forced to make the first of their routine stops.
That allowed Hamilton to gain the lead on lap 33, one he did not relinquish until the checkered flag as various other incidents unfolded behind him.
"I felt comfortable and I knew I had a good car to challenge Felipe, but then as the rain came down there was so much spray," Hamilton said. "Through Tabac, I hit a river of water and slid into the barrier.
"But fortunately I was able to tell the team, and they reacted very quickly. They did a great job and without them, I wouldn't have won this."
- Grand Prix of Monaco Preview May 23