Lewis Hamilton has won his first race of the season after a pit stop error by Red Bull Racing due to a miscommunication left Daniel Ricciardo sitting in the pits with no tyres at the ready.

The race began under the safety car due to a heavy shower of rain which left the track too wet for a race start. The safety car lasted seven laps until it peeled off into the pits and officially began the race.

On the first lap in racing conditions, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer lost control on the main straight after hitting the zebra crossing’s paint and slammed into the barrier, which brought out the virtual safety car for two laps while the marshals retrieved Palmer’s stricken Renault from Ste Devote.

The race resumed two laps later with Ricciardo quickly building a lead of three seconds to the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton. That lead grew rapidly as Rosberg was well off the pace and holding his teammate up, to a point where Ricciardo enjoyed a lead of 13.4 seconds.

The call came for Rosberg to let Hamilton pass on lap 16 which the pair completed at Ste Devote. Hamilton went to work and cut down the lead to Ricciardo, putting in two fastest laps in a row and was quickly ten seconds clear of Rosberg.

Kimi Raikkonen became the next retiree of the race when he put his Ferrari into the wall at the hairpin. The Finn attempted to make it back to the pits but at the very next corner forced Romain Grosjean into a wall due to the front wing falling under the car.

Fortunately for Grosjean he didn’t receive much damage, however, Raikkonen made it to the chicane and was forced to park his car as it was clear he wasn’t making it back to the pits.

The track started to dry out and Sebastian Vettel was the first of the drivers in the top ten to change from full wets to intermediate tyres, after following the likes of Jenson Button and Max Verstappen.

Ricciardo, Hamilton and Pascal Wehrlein became the only drivers in the field to still have the full wets on their cars after 23 laps. Ricciardo made for the pits to put on a set of intermediates as Hamilton chose to stay out, despite his mechanics rushing to the pit box ready with a set of tyres.

The Australian used his fresh set of new tyres to regain the time he’d lost to Hamilton at a rate of three seconds per lap, and was quickly on the back of the Briton’s Mercedes.

30 laps into the race and a dry racing line started to appear which caused grief for Hamilton on the full wets as they started to overheat and lose grip.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to make the choice to switch to the ultra-soft slick tyres and he was quickly joined by Sergio Perez and Button, who opted for the soft and super-softs respectively.

Hamilton made the call to dispose of his wet tyres for a set of ultra-softs on lap 32, while Ricciardo pitted a lap later to switch to the super-softs.

The team had called Ricciardo into the pits, although the message hadn’t reached the garage by the time Ricciardo had arrived, leaving him stationary in his pit box while his mechanics scrambled to get the tyres ready. The delay cost Ricciardo the lead of the race as he rejoined behind Hamilton.

Hungry for a race win after he lost the Spanish Grand Prix due to a strategy mistake, Ricciardo was on a charge towards Hamilton and caught him on the following lap, although he was blocked by Hamilton at the chicane by running off the track and holding his position.

The move was looked at by the Stewards, although they decided to not hand Hamilton a penalty.

Max Verstappen’s weekend didn’t get any better after crashing out of qualifying yesterday, as the teenager crashed out of the race at Massanet which brought out another virtual safety car.

Once the race resumed, Perez and Vettel on the soft tyres started to make ground to the leaders with Perez setting two consecutive fastest laps of the race to get within ten seconds from Hamilton.

The virtual safety car was brought out once again when the two Sauber drivers collided with each other at La Rascasse. The call had been made to Felipe Nasr to let Marcus Ericsson through, although a suspected radio problem saw Nasr hold his position. Ericsson dived on the inside of the Brazilian which caused the crash.

The threat of rain returning towards the end of the race wasn’t enough to stop Hamilton securing his first win of the season as Ricciardo’s tyres were too worn to mount another challenge.

Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W07 Hybrid 78 1:59:29.133
2. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB12 78 + 7.252
3. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 78 + 13.825
4. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF-16 78 + 15.846
5. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-31 78 + 1:25.076
6. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 78 + 1:32.999
7. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W07 Hybrid 78 + 1:33.290
8. Carlos Sainz Jr. es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 77 1 lap behind
9. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-31 77 1 lap behind
10. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 77 1 lap behind
11. Esteban Gutiérrez mx Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-16 77 1 lap behind
12. Valtteri Bottas^ fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 77 1 lap behind
13. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-16 76 2 laps behind
14. Pascal Wehrlein^ de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 76 2 laps behind
15. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 74 4 laps behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Marcus Ericsson^ se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 51 Collision
DNF. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 48 Collision
DNF. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB12 34 Accident
DNF. Kevin Magnussen dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 32 Accident
DNF. Daniil Kvyat^ ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 18 Collision
DNF. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF-16 10 Accident
DNF. Jolyon Palmer uk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 7 Accident

^ Post-Race Penalties:

    • Valtteri Bottas was awarded a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing a collision with Esteban Gutiérrez.
    • Pascal Wehrlein was awarded two separate 10-second post-race time penalties for failing to drive within the prescribed time limits during a Virtual Safety Car period and for ignoring waved blue flags.
    • Marcus Ericsson will serve a three-place grid penalty at the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix for causing an avoidable collision with Felipe Nasr.
    • Daniil Kvyat will serve a three-place grid penalty at the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix for causing an avoidable collision with Kevin Magnussen.

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Josh Kruse

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