Nico Rosberg took victory for Mercedes ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton after a thrilling climax to the Monaco Grand Prix that delivered suspense and excitement despite the status quo remaining in order at the front. Daniel Ricciardo finished 3rd to ensure the podium was the same three men as that in Spain a fortnight ago, though he nearly netted 2nd with a late race charge to attack Hamilton who was complaining of having something in his left eye that caused him to drop over five seconds behind Rosberg by the chequered flag.
Rosberg made a clean start from pole to seize the initiative, and never looked like relinquishing his advantage despite two safety car periods and a spate of yellow flags shown for a variety of reasons; Sergio Perez crashed on the opening lap after a brush with former team-mate Jenson Button – which is being investigated by marshals post-race – before Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull expired with a gearbox failure that ensured the German’s exit by lap five.
Daniil Kvyat was next to fall by the wayside thirteen laps in thanks to mechanical gremlins on his Toro Rosso, dropping him out of 8th place behind Jean Eric Vergne in the sister car. Adrian Sutil had been making progress in the unwieldy Sauber early on and made some heroic overtakes on Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi before overcooking his approach to the chicane and crashing hard into the armco, ending his day instantly.
That was the trigger for the second safety car period on lap twenty seven, and Hamilton was again on the airwaves to the Mercedes garage demanding to know why the team had not pitted him earlier to gain an undercut on leader Rosberg. The reply seemed to satisfy him for the time being, and Mercedes ‘stacked’ both cars and got them out again on the harder yellow-walled compound in front of Kimi Raikkonen who was running a strong 3rd for Ferrari. That went out the window when a puncture forced the Finn to make another pitstop, dropping him out the top ten and promoting Ricciardo back into his starting position.
With the safety car out the way and racing back on, Rosberg fended off a charge from Hamilton and began to stretch his lead apporaching the final twenty laps. Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso gave out in a cloud of oily smoke mere minutes before Valterri Bottas’s Williams went the same way, though the Finn was forced to halt at the Loews hairpin while Vergne made it back to his pitbox. The retirements promoted Jules Bianchi in his Marussia up to 10th, though the Frenchman was under investigation for having served a stop/go penalty under the safety car.
Hamilton’s woes with his eyes have already been referenced and the aggravation caused the Briton to lose concentration, slipping too far back from Rosberg to be a major threat. Haranguing his race engineer Pete Bonnington for giving him gaps to Ricciardo when he wanted the time to Rosberg in front to be read out, Hamilton neglected to realise the young Australian was closing in rapidly, being just 0.4 behind as they crossed the line.
Kevin Magnussen had driven strongly until a handful of laps from home when his nemesis Raikkonen, recovering from his earlier misfortune, slid up the inside at Loews trying to claim 7th place; Magnussen had already been passed around the outside by Button on the run up to St Devote. Raikkonen got it wrong and nestled his Ferrari nose-in to the barriers, blocking Magnussen’s path and meaning the Dane had to sit and wait until Raikkonen had untangled himself. The delay meant Jules Bianchi and Romain Grosjean both went through, as did Felipe Massa who was making steady progress after managing a stunning fifty lap stint on the super soft tyre earlier in the race.
The application of a five second penalty for his misdemeanour saw Bianchi fall behind Grosjean in the final results, but he still claimed a superb 9th place and two points for Marussia, the first any of the ‘new’ teams has scored since entering F1 in 2010. Jubilant scenes ensued in the Marussia pit as the flag fell.
Jubilant scenes too for Nico Rosberg, who accepted his winner’s trophy from HRH Prince Albert of Monaco as per tradition, though there was still no contact with team-mate and erstwhile pal Hamilton during the podium formalities. Indeed, Niki Lauda revealed Hamilton had been forced to apologise to Rosberg for using a disallowed power setting to retain the lead in Spain two weeks ago. This one is set to rumble and rumble…
CLASSIFICATION – Race – Monaco GP 25th May 2014
|Ret||Maldonado||VEN||Lotus||Did Not Start|