In any case, Lewis Hamilton won after a triumphant-yet-tense and nerve-tingling drive which he described as the most “full on” of his glittering career thus far. This immediately reminded me – as so much of what Hamilton achieves on track is also likely to do – of Stirling Moss.
After he won the Monaco Grand Prix for the second year in succession, in 1961 – driving a Rob Walker Lotus 18 – Stirling wrote in his diary: “I had a fair start. 3rd Clark (2nd)… & I took Ginther for 1st at lap 14. Led to finish with gap 3secs or less.” In fact he had held off a slavering pack of the new ‘Sharknose’ Ferraris to win that race and, although Phil Hill of Ferrari would put that in perspective by saying that “Around Monaco it was like trying to see which is quicker around a living room – a racehorse or a greyhound”, it really had been a tremendous drive, and a wonderful win. Years later, when we put together his book ‘My Cars: My Career’, Stirling explained: “… it was the works Ferraris of Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and Taffy von Trips which worried me. I resolved that if they wanted to win this race they would have to fight hard for it. I might be in a year-old car, with an inferior engine, but it suited the tight Monaco street circuit, and I would make them go – go all the way. I won, by 1.2 seconds at the end of 100 laps. It was, I believe, my greatest drive…”
I wonder if – perhaps in his 80s – Lewis Hamilton will look back on Monaco 2016 as having been his greatest drive? Moss always maintains that there was only one matter on which he did not see eye-to-eye with his great sometime team-mate, exemplar and mentor, Juan Manuel Fangio. “Fangio always said it was wise to win at the slowest possible speed – but my approach to racing wasn’t quite like that. I always wanted to go out there and really go for it, to have a right old tear-up – to me that was what motor racing is all about…”