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Hamilton's back in business!

LEADER OF THE PACK: The Mercedes star leads the way in Monaco

AFTER AN early season to forget, Formula One kingpin Lewis Hamilton got his season under way with a scintillating first victory of the campaign at the Monaco Grand Prix last Sunday.

Mercedes ace Hamilton took the honours after a close battle with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in wet conditions. Force India's Sergio Perez was third.

Now the Great Briton has his sights on retaining his world crown as his success in France leaves him just 24 points off championship leader Nico Rosberg who had one the four opening rounds of 2016.

Hamilton drove one of his finest races to take his first victory since he clinched his third world title in Austin in late October last year. “I've had a lot of races, but personally this feels like the best ever - this feels like the one, in my heart, that I earned," he enthused.

"It didn't feel like a stroke of luck. I really ground out every inch of track, every ounce of grip, every bit of skill that I had in order to stay ahead of Daniel. My 44th win, in Monaco, when I haven't won in ages…it feels like the greatest blessing.

ALL SMILES: The world champion is back in title contention

"I wasn't necessarily the quickest, but when the track was drying, those are generally my preferred conditions. I decided to stay out; I knew if I could eke them [his wet tyres] out just a bit longer I could do a one-stop and come straight out for slicks. That was my goal.

"There was still a long way to go on those tyres - and the crazy thing is you don't know how long they will go. There are things you can do to manage the tyres, but every now and then Daniel would close the gap so I had to keep pushing. It felt like a lifetime. I'm so grateful, so happy."

Reducing a pre Monaco defecit of 43 points should now give Hamilton the confidence to make it four world titles come next November when the season ends.

The Formula One roadshow now moves on to the Canadian Grand Prix on June 12.

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