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F1 champion Lewis Hamilton's party pledge after victory in Monaco

By Philip Duncan

Published 30/05/2016

Winning gambit: world champion Lewis Hamilton got his title challenge back on track with a thrilling victory
Winning gambit: world champion Lewis Hamilton got his title challenge back on track with a thrilling victory

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to celebrate his Monaco Grand Prix triumph in style after getting his championship challenge firmly back on track with his first win of the Formula One season.

Hamilton pulled off a tactical masterstroke, as well as benefiting from a disastrous pit-stop gaffe by Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull team, to finally end his eight-race losing streak.

In one of the most memorable races at the principality in recent years following a deluge of rain, Hamilton took what would be the race-winning gamble to stay out on the extreme wet tyre as all those around him pitted for intermediates.

It enabled the world champion to take control at a track where overtaking is virtually impossible, before he eventually stopped for dry rubber on lap 31 as the conditions improved.

Red Bull played their part, too, after they called Ricciardo in for slick tyres one lap later that Hamilton.

But inexplicably they were not ready for their man, and a painfully long pit-stop ensued, affording Hamilton the lead.

He then turned in a masterful defensive display to claim the 44th win of a career which began as an eight-year-old racing karts with the number 44. It is a figure which has been special to Hamilton ever since.

"I can't believe I have 44 wins," said the Briton, who toasted his first victory at Monaco in eight years with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.

"It is such a special number for me and my family.

"I am going to enjoy 44 as much as I can because it only happens once.

"I am sitting here speaking to you guys, and everything is quiet, and a bit dull - not particularly exciting - but when I leave here it is going to be super exciting. I am going to be having fun."

Hamilton's positive demeanour marked a stark contrast to the same man who sat slumped in the Mercedes motorhome only 24 hours earlier.

After yet another engine problem contributed to him qualifying only third on the grid for Sunday's race, his chances of slashing the gap to team-mate Nico Rosberg, who started one place higher on the grid, appeared slim.

"I knew it would be virtually impossible to win here unless something radical happens," Hamilton added. "But I brushed it off real quick, and after I spoke to you guys I went and had some fun with some friends.

"In the past I would have been p***** off all night long and I would not have enjoyed it. I had a great time."

Championship leader Rosberg will want to forget yesterday's race in a hurry. He was painfully slow in the opening phase of the race, which started under the safety car, and was ordered by Mercedes to let Hamilton past.

He looked poised to finish a lowly sixth but a miserable afternoon was completed when he was pipped on the line by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg. His gap to Hamilton in the championship has been slashed from 43 points to just 24.

"I had a complete lack of confidence in the car," said Rosberg, who finished 93 seconds behind his Mercedes team-mate. "We need to look into it and are trying to understand it."

Force India's Sergio Perez completed the podium places, Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Ferrari, Fernando Alonso fifth and Jenson Button ninth in the sister McLaren, while fellow Brit Jolyon Palmer and Max Verstappen both crashed out.

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