Hamilton now leads the championship with 38 points, three points over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, however McLaren still remains in second spot to Ferrari’s lead in the constructors’ championship.
With P.Diddy and Miss Grenada among his cheerleaders on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton's early scrape with the Tabac barrier and pitstop paved the way for a fortuitous strategy change and timely first safety car. The Briton's subsequent huge lead disappeared with the second safety car, but Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa trailed him home as the two hour race limit ticked down, and he snatches the championship lead by three points from Kimi Raikkonen. Unlucky Heikki Kovalainen's hopes vanished when his steering wheel electronics let him down on the grid, but he grappled through the traffic and netted the last point.
The ever impressive and inch-perfect Robert Kubica finished second, beating pole sitter Felipe Massa to the flag and even tasting the race lead at one point following the Ferrari's slip into the escape road. Nick Heidfeld's black Monaco weekend got blacker on Sunday, made worse by the damage he had to carry after Fernando Alonso's failed overtaking move at the hairpin. He finished four laps down and dead last.
A race of mistakes by the Italian team means Kimi Raikkonen, just out of the points, loses his title lead. The mistakes began even before the race, as the Finn's mechanics condemned him to a drive-through penalty for missing the tyre-selection deadline on the grid, but Raikkonen was also guilty, smashing his front wing at the first corner, and also late in the race when he took out poor Adrian Sutil. "A very poor race for me. I'm sorry for Sutil," he said. Pole sitter Felipe Massa, who lost his place to Kubica by sliding at the first corner, finished third and admitted his team made some strategy errors too. "The reality is that, at every level, we did not meet our usual high standards," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.
Mark Webber kept up his pace and out of trouble, finishing less than 15 seconds behind Massa's final podium spot, but he was also lucky to avoid the hairpin pileup, and when he inherited fourth place from the devastated Adrian Sutil. Following his big qualifying crash, David Coulthard slid into the barriers on the puddles at the entry to Casino.
At the end of a difficult first weekend with the new STR3 car, Sebastian Vettel's low-profile race - albeit with good pace as he switched to dry tyres - netted him fifth at the flag and the team's first points of the season. Sebastien Bourdais completed a Red Bull-sponsored scrap-heap when he smashed into the rear of David Coulthard's already crashed RB4 in the Massenet left-hander.
Rubens Barrichello ended his long points drought with an unspectacular run to sixth place, a result made even better by the late Sutil-Raikkonen crash. Jenson Button's hopes of a good finish were dashed when he ran into the back of Heidfeld on the opening lap, and he was punted from behind by Kovalainen later on and finished a lap down.
Nico Rosberg's promising Monaco grand prix weekend turned into a precautionary trip to hospital on Sunday afternoon, following a big crash in the high speed Swimming Pool section. It was actually his third crunched front wing of the race, including an early tag with Fernando Alonso, and another contact at the hairpin pileup. A low-profile Kazuki Nakajima kept out of trouble and finished seventh.
Fernando Alonso had an eventful run to tenth place, a lap down, including striking the barriers and later tangling with Nick Heidfeld at the hairpin. "I made some mistakes," he admitted. Nelson Piquet suitably ended his miserable weekend with a nudge into the Ste. Devote wall, having switched to dry tyres on a damp track.
An awful race for both occupants of the TF108s, with Timo Glock crunching both the front of the car and the rear in separate incidents, leading home Jarno Trulli a lap down. "I just made too many mistakes and I am sorry for the team," he said. Trulli's main problem was the leagues of time he lost wearing extreme wet tyres on a drying track.
Adrian Sutil, close friends with winner Lewis Hamilton, was the hero of the race, delivering prodigious pace with a good strategy that would have netted him a superb fourth place and his team's first points as Force India. The young German broke down in tears in the garage after Kimi Raikkonen lost control of his car at the end of the tunnel and broke Sutil's suspension. "It feels like a pain in my heart," he said. Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, plagued by gearbox trouble earlier in the weekend, lost first and second gear during the race, and stopped when fourth also failed.
Felipe Massa has managed to take pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco GP following a tough qualifying session today, which saw the Brazilian barely edge out fellow team mate Kimi Raikkonen by posting a quickest time of 1m 15.787s. Raikkonen posted an almost identical time of 1m 15.815s, which was enough to outpace McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who will start in third. Read on to see a complete team-by-team rundown of today’s events.
The Italian team looked slightly behind McLaren, and Felipe Massa slightly behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, until the qualifying session. "I was laughing all the way around my in-lap as I just can't believe I'm on pole," Turkey winner Massa, who declared on Wednesday that he doesn't like the famous street circuit, stated. Raikkonen is P2 by a tiny margin, although Massa, the Finn and Lewis Hamilton's McLaren all set near-identical final lap times.
Not many punters would have bet against a Hamilton pole position, raising some questions about whether Ferrari - although undoubtedly better at Monaco than last year - had opted for slightly lower initial fuel loads, which is a more crucial factor than usual here. "I am pleased with how the car felt and our strategy," Hamilton said. Heikki Kovalainen had a starkly mixed morning with his quickest practice time and shunt, but he remained very competitive until Q3, when he settled on the back of the second row. "I don't know where the small gap to the cars in front comes from," the disappointed Finn said.
Nick Heidfeld is enduring a Monaco nightmare, where his difficulty in heating up the tires seems to be a particular handicap. He was amongst the slowest runners in the wet-dry practice, and - for the first time in 28 races - he failed to make the 'Q3' cut in the afternoon with pace that was up to a whopping full second slower than his teammate Robert Kubica's. The Pole, as per usual, is having no such problems -- fifth in practice and on the grid, although he did confirm that Hamilton's car distracted him - but "did not hold me up" - on his last qualifying flying lap.
Nico Rosberg is arguably the star so far of the Monaco 2008 meeting -- second quickest on Thursday, fourth on the damp Saturday morning, second in the low-fuel 'Q2', and finally sixth on the grid. Teammate Kazuki Nakajima made it through to 'Q2' but he is a lot slower here than Rosberg; the definitive Q2 deficit was an enormous 1.2 seconds. "Nico did really well today so I think I should have been better," the Toyota-backed Japanese admitted.
Nelson Piquet was only three tenths slower than his teammate in Q1, but it was embarrassingly still not enough to graduate to the next phase of the qualifying session. Back to back race winner Fernando Alonso stepped up his pace impressively after Q1, and he will start from seventh -- ten full positions ahead of the struggling occupant of the sister R28.
Jarno Trulli emerged from his difficult start to the weekend to be eighth on the grid, while Timo Glock missed the top-ten 'Q3' cut by the merest of margins. "It's frustrating because the weekend had been going well. I don't know what happened," Glock said.
David Coulthard, who had throttle problems on Thursday and an oil pressure problem on Saturday morning, was unhurt after losing control of his RB4 at an incredible 297kph coming out of the tunnel, meaning that he couldn't take part in 'Q3'. The Scottish veteran, who is understood to have visited the medical centre for a check, didn't rule out driver error as he came onto the brakes, and the team also didn't confirm the cause of the crash immediately after qualifying. Many paddock pundits, however, suspect another car failure for the Milton Keynes based team. Mark Webber has had another solid weekend and is ninth on the grid.
Jenson Button must be praying for Sunday's forecast rain, because his pace on the wet track in the morning - although not reflected in the actual final time sheet because of the intermittent dry running - was extremely quick. In the dry, however, the RA108 is a 'Q2' dweller, although Rubens Barrichello - second for Stewart in the last wet Monaco GP back in 1997 - only just scraped into the second segment in qualifying.
Not in a single session at Monaco this weekend has Sebastian Vettel, whose misery is further compounded by his five-position gearbox penalty, been faster than his impressive teammate Sebastien Bourdais, the multiple champion of Champ Car and an F1 newcomer. Both, however, are not happy with the brand new STR3 car, which was not good enough to make the initial Q1 cut. "I'm hoping for rain -- lots of rain!" Vettel said.
Last year at Monaco, Adrian Sutil shone very brightly in a wet practice session, and so it was also in 2008 as he went eighth quickest in the morning. The German then outqualified his experienced teammate Giancarlo Fisichella by an impressive margin, although both are at the back of the grid. Fisichella could only do two instead of the usual three runs in Q1, because his broken gearbox from the morning session was still being replaced.