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Lewis Hamilton took a significant chunk out of Nico Rosberg’s World Championship lead by beating Daniel Ricciardo to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Ricciardo, starting from pole position, finished directly behind Mercedes man Hamilton thanks largely to a disastrous pit-stop, while Rosberg could only manage seventh place in the other Silver Arrows machine.
The result reduces Rosberg’s advantage over Hamilton at the top of the standings to 24 points.
The final spot on the Monte Carlo podium was secured by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who produced a stunning race-day performance after being seventh on the grid.
Sebastian Vettel was frustrated by Perez, coming home fourth for Ferrari, with fifth place taken by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
Force India secured further points through Nico Hulkenberg, who passed the struggling Rosberg on the final lap, while a solid drive saw Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz take eighth.
Jenson Button claimed ninth to ensure a double points finish for the resurgent McLaren outfit, with Felipe Massa grabbing a solitary point for Williams at the end of a difficult weekend for the Grove-based squad.
Vettel's Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, retired early on due to heavy contact with the barriers at the Grand Hotel hairpin.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who crashed in qualifying on Saturday, was on an impressive charge through the field before finding the wall once again and exiting the race at mid-distance.
Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr will have plenty of explaining to do to Sauber, with the Swede having crashed into the Brazilian, who had apparently ignored orders from the pit wall to let his teammate through. Both failed to make it to the end of the race as a result of their spat.
Rain had caused the race to be started behind the safety car, and a further slow-down period was brought about by a crash for Renault's Jolyon Palmer on the pit straight.
Ricciardo kept his concentration, opening up a 10-second lead over the Mercedes machines by the fifteenth lap.
Rosberg, suffering from a brake problem and holding Hamilton up, pulled aside for his teammate to pass and attempt to chase down the leader, before the German dropped to sixth during the opening pit-stop phase.
Ricciardo chose to swap full-wet tyres for intermediates at his first stop, with Hamilton staying out longer to allow a direct switch to slicks.
The Australian was forced to follow suit but with the Red Bull crew seemingly unprepared for his second visit to the pits, a long delay allowed Hamilton to jump into the lead.
Ricciardo was unable to get back past Hamilton, going closest when the Englishman ran over the Nouvelle Chicane but closed the door sharply on the exit. The stewards investigated the incident but deemed the former McLaren driver's defence to have been fair and legal.
Hamilton remained resolute to secure his first victory of the 2016 campaign and kick-start his pursuit of Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ standings.
Monaco Grand Prix: provisional race results
Pos. Driver, Team, Time/Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1hr59:29.133
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +7.252
3. Sergio Perez, Force India, +13.825
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +15.846
5. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +1:25.076
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, +1:32.999
7. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, +1:33.290
8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +1 lap
9. Jenson Button, McLaren, +1 lap
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1 lap
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +1 lap
12. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, +1 lap
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +2 laps
14. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +2 laps
15. Rio Haryanto, Manor, +2 laps
Driver, Team, Laps (of 78)
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 51
Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 48
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 34
Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 32
Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 18
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 10
Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 7
By David Maher