Tom Clarkson’s 2008 Monaco Grand Prix race report

Published: 27 May 2008

As soon as Lewis saw the rain on race morning, he had a good feeling about the Monaco grand prix. Rain raises the bar through these tortuous streets: the visibility is terrible and the road markings become slippery. Only the best drivers win in Monte Carlo.

He didn’t make it easy for himself, however. A brush with the barrier on lap six, and subsequent puncture, forced him to make an unscheduled pitstop for new rubber. Initially we thought he’d blown it, but he rode his luck in front of the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino and within two laps his race was saved by the first of two Safety Car periods, which bunched up the field again.

Lewis Hamilton: how he won at Monaco

During the middle segment of the race Lewis was the class of the field, setting a string of fastest laps on an ever-changing track surface. Such is his innate feel for grip that he built up a 37-second lead in the space of 20 laps, which allowed him to pit for dries on lap 54 and remain in front.

He wasn’t out of the woods yet, though. McLaren revealed after the race that Lewis picked up a slow puncture on the debris from Nico Rosberg’s accident on lap 62. Had the race not been stopped two laps short of its scheduled 78, after exceeding the two-hour time limit, who knows whether his right rear tyre would have lasted the distance…

Monaco: luck or judgment?

All the greats have been lucky in Monaco. In 1997, the last wet race in the principality, Michael Schumacher spun in the closing stages, but he managed not to hit anything and he won the race. This was only Lewis’s sixth grand prix win, but it was an auspicious one. Only the great drivers win at Monaco in the rain.

‘I am sure this will be the first of many wins for Lewis in Monaco,’ said three-time winner of the race, Sir Jackie Stewart.

For all Lewis’s good fortune, his mate Adrian Sutil suffered the worst possible fate at the end of the race. The 25-year-old German was under pressure to redeem his flagging reputation going into this weekend, and just when he seemed to have fifth place in the bag, he was taken out by Kimi Raikkonen at the exit of the tunnel on lap 68. A cruel blow – something that Lewis couldn’t relate to last weekend.

By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller