Lewis Hamiltonís remarkable 2008 Monaco GP victory
The day a boyhood dream came true...
To say that the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix will always live with me would be a master class in understatement. My favourite driver: Lewis Hamilton, my favourite circuit: the streets of Monte Carlo and my favourite weather conditions: wet/changeable, all combined to create a truly fascinating spectacle.
In the previous two rounds of the championship, Hamilton had finished 3rd in Spain, and 2nd in Turkey. He lined up on the grid in Monaco in 3rd position, but on a soaking wet track. This was a great opportunity to take the top step of the podium in only his second attempt at a Monaco Grand Prix.
After the lights went out, he gained a position by beating reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen down to Sainte Devote, the first corner of the demanding circuit. He now had to pass the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, but this would be highly unlikely under the treacherous conditions. Monaco is a notoriously tough circuit to pass on when it’s bone dry, but the conditions on that day made it virtually impossible.
On only lap 6, disaster seemingly struck for Lewis as he clouted the barrier on the exit of Tabac. The moment was caught on the live TV coverage with both Martin Brundle and James Allen exclaiming that he’d pushed too far and it was a major setback. Rage came over me as I convinced myself his race was over. It looked like he’d broken his rear suspension as he limped hopelessly to the pits.
It turned out it was just a right rear puncture and the boffins at McLaren saw an opportunity for a strategy change to help keep them in the hunt. They decided to long fuel Hamilton meaning a much longer middle stint, certainly longer than his rivals. He came back out in 5th position and it would be an hour later before we had any indication he was in with a chance of victory.
As numerous other incidents took place, with front wings, rear wings and carbon fibre from almost all the teams littering the track, the safety car was deployed on more than one occasion, bunching the field up.
As the track started to dry, it became a guessing game as to when the right time to come in from dry tyres would be. Much to my pleasure, it was Lewis Hamilton and McLaren who made the perfectly timed call for dries and down the pit lane he came. He exited the pits with 25 laps to go and a comfortable cushion over Massa who was in 2nd. Lewis had completely turned his race around and it was starting to look good!
A narrow dry line, endless back markers to pass and some big shunts down the field later, Lewis overcame yet another safety car period and kept his head until the chequered flag fell. After an enormous 2 hours and 42 seconds of breathtaking racing, the victory was his. It was his 6th win in Formula 1, and it was 15 years since his childhood hero Ayrton Senna had won around the principality.
In the post race press conference, Lewis said it was the highlight of his career and it would most likely continue being for a long time. It was a sensational race, one that I re-watch whenever I get the opportunity.
Lewis further cemented his reputation as the rain master just 2 months later at the British Grand Prix held around Silverstone. He completely decimated the field by finishing over 68 seconds clear of 2nd place, on an even wetter day than in Monte Carlo. But there’s no doubt about it; you truly become a legend by winning a Monaco Grand Prix, particularly if you do it against the odds like Hamilton did.
About this post
MoneySupermarket.com sent out an email a couple of weeks ago with details of an amazing competition. After recently teaming up with www.worldchoicesport.co.uk, they are offering one lucky Formula 1 blogger the chance to go to the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix. Anyone who knows me well will know that going to the Monaco Grand Prix is my ultimate dream, one that is currently unfulfilled. What’s more, I’d love to go in 2013 as it will be my final opportunity to hear 24 V8 powered F1 cars reverberating around the confined circuit. From 2014, the cars will be powered by V6 turbos, which we all know just won't be the same...
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