Starting third on the grid — par for the course this season — Lewis Hamilton didn’t look a safe bet for his first Grand Prix win in Monte Carlo.
Lewis Hamilton wins Monaco Grand Prix 2008
That he did win is a sign maybe that Madame Fortune is beginning to smile on the British race ace again.
The drivers made their way to the start in light rain. After a single lap it was teeming down, turning the famous circuit into a skid pad. Hamilton started on the second row in third. He easily passed Kimi Raikkonen on the run to St Devote.
Felipe Massa seemingly led with ease in the early stages. Weather forecasters were telling the McLaren team that the rain would lessen throughout the race. Hamilton was filled up with extra fuel and returned to the race.
He slipped into cautious mode waiting for his opponents to make the errors. Fernando Alonso, in fourth, obliged on lap eight, clipping the wall at Mirabeu. On the same lap David Coulthard and Sebastien Bourdais came together on the run-up to Casino Square to bring out the safety car.
From then on, mayhem ruled and the title was anyone’s — anyone’s, that is, who had the wet-weather skills of an Ayton Senna and the speed of Lewis Hamilton.
As his enemies tumbled from grace, Lewis Hamilton regained his lead in the Formula One Drivers’ Championship.
A notable victory — his sixth GP win — and one which sets him up for a great finish to the season. To come through all the bad luck and error-strewn campaigns this season with a win at Monte Carlo is surely an omen.
All he now has to contend with is the ferocious pace of an in-form Felipe Massa in a rock-star Ferrari and he’s home and dry.
An addendum to the Monaco Grand Prix in which the McLaren team was investigated for “team orders” which allowed Fernando Alonso allegedly to beat Lewis Hamilton in the race.
However, FIA has cleared Ron Dennis of any breach of the rules in this case. The earlier FIA statement read : “The FIA has launched an investigation into incidents involving the McLaren Mercedes team.”
McLaren denied using team orders — banned since 2002 — but said they had employed team strategy instead — an interesting form of words.
The FIA investigation centred on the international sporting code, which states it will punish “any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.
Earlier a McLaren spokesman was in bullish mood, insisting, “We are very confident about FIA’s investigation into our race strategy. We do not, and have not, manipulated Grands Prix unless there are some exceptional circumstances.”
McLaren team boss Ron Dennis said, “All the decisions that we took before and during the race respect perfectly the international sporting code.”
However, at a post-race news conference Dennis admitted he “virtually had to decide in advance” which driver would win because of the challenging nature of the tight street circuit in Monte Carlo.
Fernando Alonso was helped to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix by instructions to team-mate Lewis Hamilton to let his senior partner take the race.
Formula One’s governing body, FIA, is to investigate McLaren’s victory at the Monaco Grand Prix “after boss Ron Dennis orchestrated a team procession”, reports the UK Daily Mail.
Yesterday’s race saw Fernando Alonso lead home team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a contrived one-two and now the FIA are to launch a probe into the victory for a “possible breach of the international sporting code.”
A statement on the FIA’s website, www.fia.com, reads, “The FIA has launched an investigation into incidents involving the McLaren Mercedes team at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix in light of a possible breach of the international sporting code. The relevant evidence is under review and a further announcement will be made in due course.”
Team orders are banned by FIA, after Rubens Barrichello was told to let Michael Schumacher win the Austrian GP in 2002.
Ron Dennis insisted there was nothing wrong with his plans for the race. He had plans in the event of a possible safety car incident, as had occurred in four of the previous five Monaco GPs. In that case, Hamilton would have claimed the victory.
But Hamilton surely holds the psychological advantage from here on in — assuming his team allows him to win.
At the end of the final qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix, double world champion Fernando Alonso edged out teammate, Lewis Hamilton, by less than 0.2 seconds to take pole position. Alonso’s time was 1min 15.726s compared with Hamilton’s 1:15.905.
Pole position is particularly important in Monte Carlo because of the difficulty of overtaking on the narrow, winding circuit.
Although Hamilton has missed out on his first pole, he starts his first Monaco Grand Prix on the front row, an amazing achievement for a comparative newcomer, though maybe not so unexpected given his explosive start to the season.
â€œTo start my first F1 race here from the front row is amazing, and for the team to have a one-two is fantastic,â€ he said. â€œI love driving an F1 car round here.â€
Let’s wish him luck for the race itself.