Monaco (SportsNetwork.com) - Nico Rosberg from Mercedes became just the fourth driver in Formula One history to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a third successive year after he benefited from a strategy blunder by his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, during a late-race safety car period.
Hamilton, the two-time and defending F1 world champion and current points leader, started on pole and dominated this race by leading the first 63 laps. He had an advantage of more than 20 seconds over his closest competitor, Rosberg, on the famed Monte Carlo street circuit before an accident involving Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean from Lotus on lap 64 forced the deployment of the safety car.
Verstappen and Grosjean were battling for the 10th position when they made contact, causing Verstappen to slam head-on into the barrier. The 17-year-old driver was not injured during the incident.
During the first lap of the safety car period, Hamilton's Mercedes team called him in to the pits for new tires. While he pitted, Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel remained on track, with Rosberg taking over the lead and Vettel running in second. Hamilton rejoined in third.
Rosberg and Vettel only pitted once during this 78-lap race, while Hamilton had made two stops.
When the safety car went off track and the race resumed with eight laps to go, Rosberg pulled away and was uncatchable from there. The 29-year-old German crossed the finish line 4.5 seconds ahead of Vettel, while a very frustrated Hamilton wound up in third.
Rosberg, who resides in the Principality of Monaco, joined Ayrton Senna, Graham Hill and Alain Prost as those drivers who have won the Monaco GP in three or more consecutive years. Senna scored the victory in this prestigious race five straight times from 1989-93. Hill first accomplished the feat from 1963-65, and Prost did it from 1984-86.
"I'm very happy, of course, and I know it was just a lot of luck today," Rosberg said. "Lewis drove brilliantly and would've deserved the win, but that's the way it is in racing."
Hamilton looked quite dejected when he slowly drove back to the grid area. After he had stopped, Hamilton took his time getting out of the car and heading over to the podium ceremony.
"I can't express how I feel right now, so I won't attempt to," Hamilton said. "You live to fight another day."
Hamilton had questioned his team's decision to pit following his return to the track behind Rosberg and Vettel. On the podium, Hamilton congratulated Rosberg for his win, but at the same time, he wondered what it could have been for him had he not pitted.
"It's not the easiest of races," Hamilton said. "The team has done an amazing job all year. We win together and lose together. I'm sure we will sit down afterwards and try to think of ways to improve."
With the win, Rosberg moved to within 10 points of Hamilton for the lead in the F1 world championship standings. Hamilton has accumulated 126 points this season, compared to 116 for Rosberg. Vettel's second-place finish put him 28 points behind the leader.
"We were there in the moment when it mattered and were able to (beat) Lewis when he came out of the pits (during the safety car period)," Vettel said.
Two weeks ago, Rosberg claimed his first victory of the season in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. He started on the pole and had a superb performance in that 66-lap race, crossing the finish line 17.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Rosberg had trailed Hamilton by 27 points prior to the Spanish GP.
Prior to Monaco, Hamilton had finished either first or second in 12 consecutive grand prix, a streak dating back to last September in Italy.
Hamilton had won three of the first four grand prix this season -- Australia, China and Bahrain.
Red Bull drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Monaco GP. Kimi Raikkonen from Ferrari placed sixth, followed by Force India's Sergio Perez. Jenson Button took the eighth spot and gave McLaren its first points this season. McLaren has been struggling since the start of its partnership with Honda as the team's engine supplier at the beginning of this year.
Button's teammate, Fernando Alonso, experienced a gearbox issue while running among the top-10 on lap 42, forcing him to retire.
Rookie drivers Felipe Nasr from Sauber and Carlos Sainz from Toro Rosso completed the top-10.