Lewis Hamilton was lost for words on the podium after scoring his second victory in Monaco on Sunday and the 44th of his Formula 1 career.
Hamilton made a risky strategy work in difficult conditions to edge out Daniel Ricciardo in a classic race around the tight streets of Monaco.
The result not only marked the first victory of the season for Hamilton and his 44th in F1 (44 being his car number), but also cut the gap to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship down to 24 points.
“Thank God that today went the way that I hoped,” Hamilton said on the podium after the race.
“Big thank you to all the fans that came out today, really made the weekend, big thank you to my team for providing me with a great car to see it through to the end.
“Honestly, I’m lost for words really. I prayed for a day like this and it came true. I feel truly blessed.”
Hamilton made his ultra-soft tires last 47 laps – almost double the expected life of the compound – to eventually finish seven seconds clear of Ricciardo at the checkered flag.
“I’m telling you that was the longest run, particularly after I stopped for those tires,” Hamilton said.
“It was crazy how long that was and to understand how much you can use the tires, because you don’t know what end they’re going to go.
“I think the last lap was the time they were literally about to drop off, but thank god they stayed on.”
Hamilton took the lead of the race on lap 33 when a communication error at Red Bull left Ricciardo stranded in the pit lane waiting for his slick tires, costing him first place.
Hamilton was full of praise for Ricciardo, who was left bitterly disappointed after seeing the chance for his first Monaco victory pass by.
“Firstly a big congratulations to this guy, he drove phenomenally all weekend,” Hamilton said of Ricciardo.
“Just one of the best drivers I’ve raced against. He did a fantastic job today.
“That was a lot of pressure I was under, it was incredibly close, particularly on the restarts. He did a phenomenal job. I’m looking forward to many more battles with him.
“I’m sure he’s not the happiest because he started on pole, and it’s never good to start on pole and finish second. But he should feel proud of the way he drove.”
Rosberg endured a difficult race, finishing down in seventh place and losing 19 points to Hamilton in the title race as a result.
Although Hamilton is not thinking about the championship race, he admitted that after so many setbacks in 2016, it was nice for things to take a turn for the better.
“I haven’t even thought about that just yet,” Hamilton said when asked about the championship.
“Of course, we’re in the battle, we’re still going. There’s a long, long way to go.
“Just when you feel like it couldn’t get any worse, it gets better.
“I think really the message from today for everyone is never give up.”