LEWIS HAMILTON yesterday emulated the feat of his late hero Ayrton Senna by taming the streets of Monte Carlo, and then proclaimed: “I hope this is the start of something very special.”
Hamilton could not have won in more dramatic circumstances as wet weather wreaked havoc across the Principality, creating a skidpan surface that caused numerous accidents. One of those saw Hamilton slide into a barrier on entering Tabac, a puncture forcing him into an unscheduled stop on lap six.
Fortunately, his McLaren did not sustain any other damage, and he proceeded to drive a majestic race throughout changeable conditions and while chaos often ensued all around him.
This was Hamilton’s 23rd grand prix and only Jackie Stewart has won here in fewer races in the 58 years of the world championship. Hamilton surpasses even Senna, who had to wait until his third year to claim victory on a circuit he eventually made his home. The legendary Brazilian won the race six times, notably five in-a-row from 1989-1993.
Hamilton, at only 23, would love this to be the start of his own era as he said: “This is the highlight of my career, and I’m sure it will be the highlight for the rest of my life. To win here is an incredible feeling. It is very emotional – the last 20 laps were very emotional. This is the best win ever.
“Ayrton won here so many times, and if he can win here, that means the best drivers have to win here, so I wanted to be able to do the same.”
But it almost never happened for Hamilton after his early shunt and he conceded you also need luck as well as talent to win at this track.
“Today went my way, so I am very fortunate because at the time I was easily in second, and I knew I was easily quick enough to win the race, but I touched the wall,” said Hamilton, who reclaims the lead in the title race by three points from Kimi Raikkonen, who could only manage ninth.
To underline Hamilton’s luck, he suffered a puncture on the warm-down lap during his celebrations due to debris on the track.
Red Bull Racing’s David Coulthard crashed out at Massanet, with Sebastien Bourdais in his Toro Rosso sliding into the back of the Scot, resulting in the first of two safety cars.
The second came 18 minutes from home – the race running a full two hours rather than 78 laps due to the conditions – as Nico Rosberg wrecked his Williams coming out of the swimming pool complex.
Hamilton had a 40-second lead at the time reduced to nothing, but kept his cool at the restart to take the chequered flag and spark wild celebrations.
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