Princess of Monaco's cheeky act on F1 podium sends fans into frenzy

Princess Charlene of Monaco has sent Formula One fans into a frenzy with another cheeky act on the podium.

Delivering the runner-up trophy to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the royal winked as she walked past Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, and race winner Lewis Hamilton.

While it was unclear who the wink was aimed at, it was likely Charlene’s way of saying congratulations to Hamilton.

The 34-year-old reigning champion has lived in Monaco for a number of years and has now won the race three times.

Princess Charlene offered up a wink on the podium, seemingly to race winner and Monaco resident Lewis Hamilton. Pic: F1

With the cameras following Charlene, who married reigning monarch Prince Albert II in 2011, race fans easily spotted the wink.

Footage of the exchange went viral on social media as punters debated whether it was directed at Bottas, Hamilton or Vettel.

Charlene’s latest effort came a year after perhaps her most surprising move on race day.

Australian racer Daniel Ricciardo stood on the top step in 2018 after nursing his underpowered Red Bull to the chequered flag.

Overjoyed to have avenged his 2016 disappointment, when a pit-stop error robbed him of victory, Ricciardo was having the time of his life.

But rather than requesting an unprecedented royal shoey, he handed the champagne over to let Charlene take a sip.

Daniel Ricciardo convinced Princess Charlene to take a swig of champagne after the 2018 race. Pic: Getty

‘Make him proud’

Hamilton dragged his car's worn tyres to the finish in a nail-biting victory dedicated to Niki Lauda, who died last week aged 70.

"That was definitely the hardest race I've had but nonetheless I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki," said Hamilton, who dived into the trackside swimming pool after the podium formalities.

"I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off. I was trying to stay focused and make him proud.”

The five-times world champion and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished under investigation after they banged wheels into the chicane following the tunnel exit two laps from the end.

The Briton, whose medium tyres were so worn by that point that he questioned the team's strategy, was forced to cut the corner.

"I don't know what you're thinking by keeping these tyres on, man. You need to hope for a miracle," Hamilton had told his team during the race as he kept Verstappen – on longer-lasting harder tyres – behind him for lap after lap.

The miracle, with Hamilton wearing a red helmet with Lauda's name and colours while the car carried a variety of tributes, duly happened as if by the late champion's celestial command.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc had created much of the early excitement of an entertaining race but was also the sole retirement, stepping out of the car in the pits with just 19 laps gone.

The Monegasque, starting 16th, was up to 12th by the end of lap seven after overtaking McLaren's Lando Norris and Haas's Romain Grosjean at the hairpin and Rascasse.

The youngster, who had vowed to be aggressive after a Ferrari's strategy blunder messed up his qualifying, then paid the price when he tried the same move on Renault's Nico Hulkenberg at Rascasse.

Leclerc spun and picked up a right rear puncture, limping home to the pits on a rim and flailing rubber, losing a lap to the leaders and flinging out debris that led to a safety car period for marshals to sweep the track.

with AAP