DELIGHTED Briton Lewis Hamilton realised a childhood dream yesterday when he won the Monaco Grand Prix and took over as leader in this year's Formula One drivers' world championship. As a boy, Hamilton, now 23, grew up watching his hero Brazilian Ayrton Senna win the famous race around the streets of the Mediterranean principality six times for McLaren. In this year's 66th running of the classic event, he did it himself, winning for McLaren in memorable fashion in a race twice interrupted by Safety Car interventions, littered with incidents and accidents and finally shortened by two laps from the usual 78 to 76 to finish within two hours.
Hamilton emerged from the carnage, rain, puddles and chaos ahead of all his rivals to claim the first victory by an Englishman in Monaco since 1969. But he needed to ride his luck after an early crash, after six laps, into the barriers at Tabac where he almost wrecked his right rear wheel. This enabled him to revise his strategy and this gave him great assistance as the race unfolded in his favour. At the finish, after leaping from his car, he slipped between the security guards on the track to hug and dance with his father Anthony and the McLaren team. It was an emotional moment.
The win was Hamilton's second this year and sixth of his career. “That was such a long race, I thought it was never going to end,” said Hamilton afterwards. “It is just a dream for me to win here. It is unreal for me and to be on top of the championship again is all too much. “I said it would be an eventful race, but I didn't expect this! Had it not been for the early puncture at Tabac and the brilliant work by the team to get me back out there I would not be here now as the winner.” Hamilton's win has reignited the scrap for this year's drivers' world championship.
He now has 38 points with defending champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari second, after failing to score, on 35 and Brazilian Felipe Massa, who started from pole and finished second, now third on 34. Hamilton came home three seconds clear of his friend Pole Robert Kubica in a BMW Sauber with Brazilian Felipe Massa third for Ferrari after starting from pole position. Force India's Adrian Sutil lost what would have been a superb fourth in an unfancied car when Raikkonen cannoned into the back of the German on lap 68, forcing his retirement. This all left Hamilton on top of the title race again for the first time since the season opening race in Australia. - AFP
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