Rosberg wins after Mercedes throws away Hamilton victory

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg took a dramatic victory in the Monaco Grand Prix as a Mercedes strategic blunder cost Lewis Hamilton the win in the closing laps.

Having held on to his lead from pole position, Hamilton managed the gap to his team-mate throughout the first stint as he also battled a front brake issues which required him to lift and coast. However, Hamilton soon eased out a 14-second lead in the closing laps as he looked set for a comfortable victory.

However, a heavy crash for Max Verstappen saw the safety car deployed and Mercedes inexplicably opted to pit Hamilton while the other two cars stayed out and the championship leader was demoted to third place after just losing out to Vettel at the pit lane exit.

With overtaking so difficult on the street circuit, Hamilton was unable to take advantage of the supersoft tyres and Rosberg eased to victory while Vettel held off the second Mercedes. Hamilton was so angry at the end of the race he parked his car at Portier and appeared to consider returning to his nearby apartment rather than return to the pits, before eventually continuing to the podium.

Hamilton had seemed so comfortable from lap one, never coming under pressure from Rosberg and pulling away with ease in the latter stages of the race. Rosberg, by contrast, was closely matched by Vettel and had the Ferrari in his mirror throughout the race, with his main focus holding on to second place.

Vettel's only opportunity to take second from a Mercedes appeared to come in the pit stop but Rosberg had enough pace to withstand the undercut when Vettel stopped a lap earlier. However, the race changed on lap 63 when Verstappen attempted to pass Romain Grosjean in to Ste Devote.

Verstappen was on supersoft tyres and scything through the field after a delayed stop early on. Trying to take P10, Verstappen went to outbrake Grosjean in to the first corner but clipped the right rear of the Lotus with his left front, immediately breaking the suspension and leaving him without braking as he speared head-on in to the crash barrier on the outside of the corner.

Fortunately Verstappen climbed out of the car himself despite the heavy impact, saying he was OK over team radio. With the safety car deployed, Hamilton pitted from the lead for a set of supersoft tyres while the other two cars behind him stayed out. Hamilton rejoined alongside Vettel and tried to move ahead in the train behind the safety car but had been behind exiting the pits and had to yield.

On the restart Rosberg pulled away easily, while Vettel was able to hold off Hamilton during a tough opening few laps as he tried to bring his tyres up to temperature. Once able to do so it was clear Hamilton would not be able to pass and the championship leader was left to fend off Daniel Ricciardo's late attempts to pass.

Ricciardo had lost out to Kimi Raikkonen in the pit stops but also opted to stop for a second time under the safety car - the highest-placed car aside from Hamilton to do so - to take on supersofts. On quicker rubber, Ricciardo robustly nudged Raikkonen wide at Mirabeau and took fifth place before team-mate Daniil Kvyat allowed him through in to fourth.

Ricciardo attacked Hamilton late on but having been unable to pass the Mercedes he slowed on the final lap as he was ordered by Red Bull to allow Kvyat back through having been behind his team-mate from Turn 1 at the start of the race.

Raikkonen finished sixth but voiced his displeasure at Ricciardo's move at Mirabeau, with the stewards investigating the incident but clearing the Australian. Seventh was Sergio Perez after an impressive drive in the Force India, while Jenson Button took eighth to score McLaren's first points of the season.

McLaren should have had both cars in the points but Fernando Alonso retired at Ste Devote with what looked like a car issue when running behind his team-mate.  Ninth was Felipe Nasr as the Brazilian avoided incident, while Carlos Sainz recovered from a pit lane start to finish in tenth place.

Click here for Sunday's gallery from the Monaco Grand Prix

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Pos Driver Team Time Laps
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 78 laps - 1h49m18.420s 1
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +4.486 1
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +6.053 2
04 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +11.965 1
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +13.608 2
06 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +14.345 1
07 Sergio Perez Force India +15.013 2
08 Jenson Button McLaren +16.063 2
09 Felipe Nasr Sauber +23.626 2
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +25.056 1
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +26.232 2
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus +28.415 1
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +31.159 3
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams +45.789 2
15 Felipe Massa Williams +1 lap 3
16 Roberto Merhi Manor +2 laps 1
17 Will Stevens Manor +2 laps 1
18 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso DNF 2
19 Fernando Alonso McLaren DNF 1
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus DNF 1