Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg wrapped up a triumphant weekend this afternoon by taking an overwhelming victory in the Monaco Grand Prix.
The German topped every session of the event and made use of his local knowledge (having grown up and lived in the principality most of his life) to take his 2nd Grand Prix victory and Mercedes’ first of the season.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber made opportune use of the first, inevitable, safety car period to vault ahead of Lewis Hamilton, after the Brit misjudged his pitstop and dropped behind the Red Bull duo.
The race was notable for the number of incidents and collisions between a number of drivers.
While Rosberg and Hamilton made fairly tardy starts, the constricted nature of the Monaco circuit left Vettel and Webber unable to pass and the frustrated pair could only watch as Rosberg began to stretch a measured gap at the front of the pack. Jenson Button forced his way past Adrian Sutil before going head-to-head with Sergio Perez, and was left fuming after the Mexican bundled his elder team-mate up against the barriers at the Nouvelle Chicane. After he had run across the kerbs twice to stay ahead of his rival, Perez was instructed to move over and let the Briton past having gained an unfair advantage.
Felipe Massa prompted the first safety car period when, in an uncanny repeat of his FP3 accident, his Ferrari locked up and crashed at St Devote; the Brazilian was taken straight to the medical centre having suffered some neck pains, but Ferrari insisted he was fine before the race had even finished.
Hamilton’s slow return to the pitlane (in order to avoid stacking behind team-mate Rosberg) eventually cost him and he exited the pits behind Webber; just as he was picking up the pace and threatening to make his move on the Australian the second safety car period began – Pastor Maldonado, in trying to pass a recovering Max Chilton (who had missed the Nouvelle Chicane), was squeezed against the barrier by the young Englishman and catapulted into the barriers at Tabac. The impact was so fierce it tore the tech-pro barrier from its mountings and not only wrapped the Williams in a rather thick shroud, but blocked the circuit.
Red flags were the order of the day, and in a repeat of the 2011 race the drivers pulled up on the grid to await the restart.
Rosberg made a perfect getaway when the safety car peeled in and the racing got back underway. It wasn’t long before Sergio Perez was making more enemies; he dived past Button exiting the tunnel in an excellent out-breaking manoeuvre but immediately attacked Alonso in a less convincing fashion.
The McLaren ran both himself and Ferrari off at the Nouvelle chicane and, despite Ferrari’s protestations that Alonso had avoided an accident, the Spaniard was forced to move over and let Perez through.
His luck ran out when he tackled Kimi Raikkonen in 5th and damaged both his own car and the Finn’s; the subsequent damage forced Raikkonen to pit and rejoin down in 13th. Perez suffered a measure of what some might call ‘poetic justice’ when his tortured and damaged brake discs screamed enough and forced him to retire with 6 laps remaining. Button took the chance to attack Alonso and seize what was now 6th place behind Sutil, the Force India having also despatched the Ferrari earlier in the race.
Raikkonen’s point-scoring streak, stretching back to Bahrain last season, looked to be in doubt, but ‘The Iceman’ made a remarkable recovery to pass both Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg for the final point on offer in 10th. Nevertheless, the mishap with Perez cost Raikkonen dear in the championship battle and the Finn was in no mood to mince words after the race, claiming ‘…maybe someone should punch him [Perez] in the face…[talking to him] would make no difference.’
The final few laps were marred by an incident involving Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean; the Frenchman appeared to break far too late for the Nouvelle chicane and smashed into the back of the Toro Rosso. While Ricciardo was forced to retire with serious rear suspension damage, Grosjean struggled on to face the criticism of his detractors.
“It was my childhood dream to win this race and to do it in a Silver Arrow on the streets where I have lived all of my life is fantastic. I can’t quite believe it has happened yet and it will probably take a while to sink in. Thank you to the team for the car that we had this weekend and it’s good to have been able to show the same level of performance on Sunday and convert our pole position. The whole weekend went pretty much to plan, even though qualifying was tough with the weather conditions. I didn’t have the best start today which meant Lewis and Seb got pretty close but after the first corner, I was able to set my own pace. Then it was just a case of keeping a cool head through all the incidents and the team did a great job of keeping me in touch with what was happening.” Nico Rosberg
“Big congratulations to Nico, he’s been awesome all weekend here and really deserves that victory. From my side, this weekend hasn’t really been the best and we didn’t make the most of the opportunity for a one-two finish today. When the safety car came out, I needed to maintain a gap so we didn’t get delayed with the double pit stop but unfortunately the gap was too big and we lost out to the two Red Bulls. That’s motor racing and these things happen sometimes.” Lewis Hamilton
“Congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job and had a very controlled race; I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer to him. I had a fantastic start, but there was no room! I think I could have gone past both Mercedes, but there was no space and I had to lift. Then Mark came and it was very tight into the first corner. I was a bit surprised by the slow pace of the opening laps – usually you expect two silver arrows in front of you, but they were more like buses today going for a cruise on the first couple of laps. But, the strategy for them was clear and they did a very good job.” Sebastian Vettel
“For us, we knew we were a little bit against it starting on the second row, but I got an absolutely incredible start and it’s sod’s law that it’s the shortest run into the first corner here. Seb and I had nowhere to go, so we were lifting while Nico and Lewis looked like they had tricky ones. We will save some of those starts for future reference! Then after that it was basically about saving the tyres and making the one-stop work for us.” Mark Webber
“Given where we started we went with an aggressive strategy and it probably would have paid off without the safety cars. The pace was strong, but I was stuck behind lots of traffic in the early part of the race. I managed to pass a few cars going into turn one, but towards the end of the race the cars were more bunched up and it was not so easy. I was stuck behind Vergne after the restart and I had one good chance to overtake, but he defended very well. Fortunately with the cars ahead battling and making contact I made up some positions and scored a couple of points. So after the disappointment of yesterday, the boys did a great job and it’s good to continue my run of finishes in the points.” Paul Di Resta
“Things weren’t looking very good initially, but the Monaco Grand Prix is one of those races where you need to hang in there until the very end, because anything can happen – and today it did. My opening laps were good – I overtook Adrian [Sutil] and tried to have a go at Fernando [Alonso] at the hairpin. I tapped his rear wheel, so I wasn’t really paying attention when Checo put a really good move on me out of the tunnel under braking for the Harbour Chicane. After the restart, Adrian also made a really good move on me into the hairpin – I didn’t actually think it would be possible because I’d tried it on Fernando earlier and it didn’t work. Then, in the last few laps, Checo and Kimi [Raikkonen] tangled, and suddenly there was a battle behind them because they were circulating slowly in their damaged cars. So I took the opportunity to jump up the inside of Fernando at Rascasse, which was quite fun, and came home sixth. It was a pity that Checo’s late-race retirement meant we couldn’t score more heavily today – that would have been a big boost for the team – but I bagged a decent number of points, and our pace in clear air was good, so there are positives we can take away from today.” Jenson Button
““Overall I’m pleased with a positive conclusion to the race after what has been a difficult weekend for us. I fought hard in the latter stages to ensure we had something good to take away from Monaco and naturally I am very happy that I was able to get past Van Der Garde on the penultimate lap for 14th. With regard to the accident with Pastor, Esteban made a late lunge into the chicane and I could see he was locked up so I had to take action to avoid him, which meant missing the chicane. I rejoined coming out of Turn 11 and the apex to Turn 12 was fast approaching. I was aware that someone was behind me but not alongside me. The stewards determined a drive-through penalty for me and I accept that decision. After the race I went to see Pastor to check he was okay. The incident made for a difficult rest of the race but all I could do was concentrate on the best result for the Team and, problems aside, I think we have to be pleased with the end result.” Max Chilton
RACE RESULT – MONACO GRAND PRIX – CLASSIFICATION
|9||Di Resta||GBR||Force India||2|
|15||Van Der Garde||NED||Caterham|