THE Monaco Grand Prix was Formula One's most boring ever, according to world champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton finished third for Mercedes, his championship lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel trimmed to 14 points, while Alonso had been seventh before retiring his McLaren with transmission problems on lap 48.

The top six finishers remained in grid position, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo winning for Red Bull from pole despite having to manage problems with his car's power unit for nearly two thirds of the distance.

"This is probably the most boring race ever," Alonso told reporters. "Without a safety car, without yellow flags, I think the sport needs to think a little bit about the show because this is very disappointing," said the Spaniard, who missed last year's race to compete in the Indianapolis 500. "I think we probably need to give something to the fans at the end of the race just to pay the ticket back a little."

Hamilton, a four-times world champion and Alonso's former teammate, said it had been the "longest 78 laps ever".

Last year he had managed only seventh as Mercedes struggled around the tight and twisty layout while Ferrari enjoyed a dominant one-two.

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo celebrates in the swimming pool of the Red Bull Energy Station. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Race winner Daniel Ricciardo celebrates in the swimming pool of the Red Bull Energy Station. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

But the Briton, still a big fan of the glamorous location and pre-race build-up, was frustrated by an afternoon spent at reduced speed to save the tyres on a one-stop strategy and with no chance of overtaking.

"Formula One needs to apply a different schedule here. It should not be a one-stop race, for example," said Hamilton, a two-times winner in Monaco, who said he would have been asleep on the sofa if watching on television.

A fan interrupted Hamilton's post-race interview by shouting: "Most boring race ever."

Hamilton responded: "Thank God you said it. I thought I was the only one. Wow, it was intensely boring. Oh my God, yes.

"We are driving at high speed, there is not a lot of action, you're just trying to bring it home, for 56 laps. Oh my God, it was long.

"Forty laps to go, I was like, Oh God, please. When it finished, I was like, 'thank goodness'."

Lewis Hamilton drives in front of Kimi Raikkonen. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton drives in front of Kimi Raikkonen. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

One man who was celebrating, and not complaining of boredom either, was Ricciardo.

At any other track, with his engine problems, he would have been overtaken and forgotten.

The Australian performed a jubilant "shoey" celebration on the podium, quaffing champagne from his sweaty racing boot and making Red Bull's technical head Adrian Newey share the experience.

The magnum of champagne was then handed to Monaco's Prince Albert and Princess Charlene to drink straight from the oversized bottle.

Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel insist the world championship battle is wide open after Ricciardo's victory lifted him to third in the standings.

All three drivers have now picked up two victories each this season and Hamilton expects the title fight to now intensify as the season progresses

"It is definitely a three-way fight," Hamilton said. "Seb is still the strongest. Their car has worked well all season so far. But it is a three-way fight and Red Bull will continue to get stronger through the year."

"I'm so grateful to be leading the championship. Last year I was 25 points down I think at this point," he added to Sky F1.

"I lost three points to Sebastian and to only have that and not more, I'm grateful."

Vettel concurred with Hamilton, and believes the respective Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull teammates could still have a big say in the final outcome.

"The battle is between all three teams and all six drivers," Vettel told Sky F1.

"It is very early still and a long way to go. For sure what we take today is the points."

Unlike Hamilton and Vettel, Ricciardo has suffered two race retirements so far and he still trails Hamilton by 38 points - the equivalent of a race win and podium finish.

Red Bull were able to dominate around Monaco's street circuit given the lower dependence on engine power but the Australian feels they need at least another victory before the summer break in order to be considered an "outside" contender.

"I think Lewis still has a pretty good buffer on me, so we're still on the outside of that. It's not impossible but not really at the forefront of my mind yet," Ricciardo said.

"[I'll] try to get a few more podiums but yeah, we've got to probably prove on at least one other circuit before the summer break that we can win again.

"And then maybe we're a nice little outside chance."

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 110 points (two wins)

2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 96 points (two wins)

3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 72 points (two wins)

4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 68 points

5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 60 points

6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 35 points

- Reuters, Sky Sports


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