Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) won the first pole of his career and Grand Prix of Monaco started behind the safety car for the first time in its history. Lined up on full-wet tires behind Ricciardo were driver championship points leader Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), his teammate Lewis Hamilton, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The safety car came in to start Lap 8. The virtual safety car came out before the lap was complete, Jolyon Palmer (Renault) having crashed out in Turn 1.Green-flag racing resumed two laps later. Ricciardo’s lead was 3.3 sec by Lap 11 (of 78). Vettel pitted from fourth for intermediates three laps later.
Ricciardo’s lead stretched to 11.6 sec in Lap 15. Hamilton passed Rosberg the next lap on team orders as Rosberg’s pace slowed by more than 1 sec/lap. Ricciardo led Hamilton by 13 sec. Rosberg pitted during Lap 21, with brake temperature issues. Hamilton closed the gap to 11.2 sec over the next two laps.
The leading Red Bull pitted during Lap 24 to switch to intermediate tires. Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the race, closing to within 4.2 sec of Hamilton. Ricciardo closed to right behind Hamilton, who remained on full wets. The two were 28 sec ahead of Rosberg. Red Bull pitted from the lead on Lap 32, but the crew failed to have the tires ready, and Hamilton remained in the lead.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) crashed out in Lap 35, bringing out the virtual safety car. When green-flag action resumed, Ricciardo challenged Hamilton for the lead, but couldn’t quite make the pass. Sergio Perez (Force India) ran third and was on harder tires than either of the cars in front of him. Rain loomed again during Lap 49.
The virtual safety car came out one lap later as the Sauber cars, running back in the field, took each other out. The green returned to start Lap 52. Ricciardo again challenged Hamilton in the opening lap. Perez was closing at a 3-sec/lap clip. Rain not predicted to arrive before the final 8 laps.
The virtual safety car deployed late in Lap 68 to remove a large, loose plastic sheet from the track, green-flag competition resuming less than one lap later. Drops of rain started in Lap 71, but held off long enough to not play a role in the race’s outcome, Hamilton beating Ricciardo and Perez.
Hamilton and Ricciardo both passed Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), who did not finish, in the driver standings. Perez’s finish, combined with teammate Nico Hulkenberg crossing the line in sixth, moved Force India into fifth in the constructor championship, leapfrogging both Toro Rosso and Haas.
Driver standings (Top 10)
Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 106
Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 82
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – 66
Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari – 61
Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Ferrari – 60
Max Verstappen (Netherlands), Red Bull – 38
Felipe Massa (Brazil), Williams-Mercedes – 37
Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 29
Sergio Perez (Mexico), Force India-Mercedes – 23
Daniil Kvyat (Russia), Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 22
Romain Grosjean (France), Haas-Ferrari – 22
Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 188
Ferrari (Vettel, Raikkonen) – 121
Red Bull Racing (Ricciardo, Verstappen) – 112
Williams-Mercedes (Massa, Bottas) – 66
Force India-Mercedes (Nico Hulkenberg, Perez) – 37
Toro Rosso-Ferrari (Carlos Sainz Jr., Kvyat) – 30
McLaren-Honda (Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button) – 24
Haas-Ferrari (Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez) – 22
Renault (Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer) - 6
Next event: Grand Prix of Canada – Montreal, June 10-12, 2016