Monday, May 26, 2008

Hamilton wins wet and wild Monaco Grand Prix

McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton became the first British driver in nearly 40 years to win the Monaco Grand Prix and now heads to Montreal - where, as a rookie, he scored his first victory in Formula One - on a roll.
The Grand Prix of Canada on the 30th anniversary of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is June 6-8 and Hamilton will go into the race after taking over the lead in the world championship by eclipsing an all-Ferrari front row which started Sunday's race and cruising the narrow and wet winding street circuit on the Mediterranean seaside for his second win of the season and sixth of his career in only 23 starts.
"Montreal was good to me last year," Hamilton said of the first of his four victories in a remarkable debut season. "Winning there, the first time I was on that track, I'm looking forward to returning."

McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after winning the Monaco F1 Grand Prix in Monte Carlo

Hamilton became the first Brit to win in Monaco since Graham Hill in 1969 by overcoming a damaged right tire following contact with a wall early in the race to beat runner-up BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and pole-sitter Felipe Massa of Ferrari, who was third.
The 23-year-old, who finished second to former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso in Monaco last year, completed the 76-lap race that started in the rain but was dry before the end, in a time of two hours, 42 minutes and 7.42 seconds, with an average speed of 126.170 kilometres per hour.
Kubica, in search of his first win, settled for second for the second time this season, finishing in 2:00:45.806, while Massa crossed the line in 2:00:47.553.
"This is the best win ever, for sure," said Hamilton, who grabbed the lead on lap 33 after Kubica and Massa pitted and never looked back. "Even if I was to win here again, which I plan on doing, this is the best one. The first one. Just getting to Formula One and going to Monaco and winning the Grand Prix.
"Even though I didn't get pole position, I just stayed optimistic and brought it home," he said. "The guys did a good job as you could see and it was the most fun I have had in a race ever."
Hamilton, who won the season's first race in Australia, said he was thinking of his hero, the late Ayrton Senna of Brazil, who won here a record six times, and drove the final few laps without any pressure from behind even when the safety car was deployed late in the race to erase a 40-second-plus lead to virtually nothing.
"This has got to be the highlight of my career and I am sure it will continue to be the highlight for the rest of my life," said Hamilton. "I remember on the last few laps I was thinking that Ayrton Senna won here a lot of times and (for me) to win here would be amazing. But I knew anything can happen here and I had to keep (the car) out of the barriers.
"I have to say a big thank-you to all of my team back home and over here," he said. "You did a fantastic job. And to all my fans - I know I have got a lot of fans here and also back home - I did it for all of you and especially my family who have been here supporting me all weekend and to my mum. Lots of love Mum."
Hamilton emerged from the race with a three-point lead (38-35) over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen through six rounds of the championship four ahead of Massa, and six better than Kubica.
With rain falling at the start, Hamilton overtook Raikkonen right off the bat to slide into second behind Massa and things went from bad to worst for the reigning world champion from Finland, who finished out of the points in ninth.
The wet conditions saw a number of incidents occur, but none more disappointing than that which forced German Adrian Sutil and F1's newest entry Force India from an impressive finish with only laps remaining.
Sutil had his sights set on a career-best fourth place and the team's first points of the season when Raikkonen, running fifth, slammed into him from behind, forcing him to retire. Television cameras caught Sutil banging his steering wheel in anger after rolling to a stop and later breaking down in tears upon returning to the team's garage.
Raikkonen apologized to Sutil and his team for what he said was an unavoidable racing incident after he hit the wall shortly after exiting the tunnel on 3.34-kilometre course.
"Basically I just think my brakes were a bit too cold and I locked the rear," Raikkonen said. "I nearly lost the car, but unfortunately I hit him. It's sad for them because they are not very often in the position to finish in the points.
"I feel a bit sorry for him, but I could not do anything," he added. "I tried to slow down, but there was nowhere to go and nowhere to slow down. I lost fifth place."
Said Sutil: "It was a great race with an incredibly sad ending. We could have had fourth place. It's incredible bad luck that Kimi crashed into me. He obviously didn't do it on purpose."

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