Mercedes: Seventh the 'optimal result' for Hamilton

"It's a fantastic job the team has done, so credit to them".

Taking full advantage of generous support from teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who led from pole position to the start of the pit-stops, the four-time champion came home 3.1 seconds clear of the Finn in glorious Mediterranean sunshine. "This is the reality of it at the moment".

But it was Sebastian Vettel who was the big victor as he notched up Ferrari's first win in Monte Carlo for 16 years.

But it was shrouded in controversy.

Hamilton had started 13th after a nightmare in qualifying, with the Briton unable to get his car's tyres performing in the requisite window while Ferrari looked suddenly in a league of their own.

"I haven't spoken to the team, and I don't really plan to", Hamilton added.

"At the restart I hit the wall in turn one and I hit it pretty hard, so I assumed I would have had damage and then I saw Valtteri in my blind spot and I just managed to hold on".

"But there might be some things along the way that position-wise, at some stage, might become valuable but who knows what is going to happen". The tyres started to slide in the first stint and the pack were catching up a bit but then I had a second attempt and had a couple of laps where the auto was really good.

Last year, Mercedes finished almost 300 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors' championship, winning 19 of 21 races as Rosberg pipped Hamilton to the title before dramatically announcing his retirement from F1.

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The roll call is spine-tingling but results are what really matter and a quick comparison of Schumacher's first six races of 2001 and Vettel's current performance will really get the heart racing at Maranello. "But the underdog is the one that people want to see winning".

"We get along well and I can understand Kimi's not totally happy today", he said. "There's so many things we have got to look into to try to understand why one auto could make it work and the other couldn't".

With this win on Sunday, his second ever win at Monte Carlo, having won it last in 2011, Vettel notched his third victory of the season, following his success at the Bahrain and Australia Grand Prix.

"I tried to back out of it, but it was too late and we touched".

"We had a lot of hard times last year, but this year it seems to be (the other way around)", Vettel said. "They are pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will maximise on all of his weekends.have chosen their number one driver", said Hamilton, who finished seventh and is now 25 points adrift.

Ferrari's decision to have Vettel overcut his team-mate this early in the season may lead to questions over their strategy following the Italian team's first one-two since the 2010 German Grand Prix - when Felipe Massa received a coded message to tell him to let Fernando Alonso aside to claim victory.

"I don't know, obviously it didn't work out very well for me", said Kimi when asked what had gone wrong.

"I did what I came to do today, didn't make any silly mistakes, didn't damage the vehicle, got those points and I'd like to think at the end of the season those points are going to be valuable". That lap may have got me into the top 10 but I think I'd have struggled to be in the top five. "It's great to see what we were able to do".

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