It’s difficult not to become all nostalgic when talking about the Monaco Grand Prix. It is of course the most famous event on Formula 1’s expanding calendar. But strip away the glamor and the stunning location and what you have quite a difficult race for the drivers. Things really get underway on Saturday’s qualifying where grid spot positions hold a greater importance than at other venues. To get pole at Monaco will vastly increase your chances of winning the race and that’s precisely what Mercedes and Nico Rosberg accomplished.
Hats off to Rosberg and his first victory at Monaco – 30 years to the day his father Keke won there. It was an error free drive and despite the numerous safety cars and a restart, Rosberg kept his composure and got the job done. Things didn’t fare so well for his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who spent the early part of the race playing body guard to Rosberg’s car – possibly payback for Malaysia? Hamilton has struggled with tire wear all season long and admits that he hasn’t felt confident behind the wheel at times.
The Brit isn’t used to playing second fiddle to his teammates and the frustration will continue to grow if things don’t start clicking. Despite a successful campaign in Monaco, Mercedes didn’t escape controversy over the weekend. It had been revealed that the team took part in a “safety” test with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix. A Mercedes Silver Arrow did 1000km on Pirelli’s current tire compounds. Pirelli maintains that it’s their decision which teams to work with for testing, however in the past older cars have always been used.
It’s presumed that following the testing, Mercedes made modifications to theirs cars, giving them the advantage at Monaco. Following complaints from Ferrari and Red Bull, the FIA (who were unaware of the testing) have gotten involved. There are rumblings that Mercedes could be suspended for the Canadian Grand Prix, following an investigation by the FIA.
The situation has definitely muddied what was an otherwise excellent weekend for Rosberg and the team.
Following a brilliant showing in Spain, Ferrari’s success didn’t last the weekend in Monaco.
After missing qualifying following a crash Sainte Devote Felipe Massa started at the back of the grid on Sunday. In lap 28 of the Grand Prix déjà vu – Massa crashed again at Sainte Devote, ending his race prematurely. His teammate Fernando Alonso spent most of the race struggling to move up the grid while fending off an overly ambitious Sergio Perez.
It wasn’t the showing Ferrari had hoped for in Monaco. Alonso finished 7th overall.
Red Bull had a mostly quiet race on Sunday. Sebastian Vettel qualified 3rd on Saturday and appeared upset in the press conference that followed – no doubt the frustration was tire related. After the start of the race, Vettel was held up by Hamilton and was never able to catch back up to Rosberg to contend for 1st.
He drove an error free race and finished 2nd overall. His teammate Mark Webber did the same, finishing 3rd. Webber did his best to downplay rumors that he’s leaving Formula 1 after the 2013 season.
There’s been talk amongst the paddack that Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne would likely be Webber’s replacement at Red Bull next season.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil had a good drive on Sunday. After breaking into Q3 on Saturday, Sutil started in 8th. Some aggressive, but smart driving during the Grand Prix saw the German finish 5th. It’s been an interesting season for Force India – a team who have attracted controversy financially, but have still managed to produce an excellent car.
Things started well for Lotus, but sloppy driving from Romain Grosjean and a late pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen, extinguished hopes of a podium finish. Raikkonen made contact with Sergio Perez heading into the Nouvelle Chicane. The incident ultimately ended Perez’s race and forced Raikkonen to make the untimely pit stop for a puncture. When asked about Perez following the race, he responded with “maybe someone should punch him in the face”.
Monaco was another weekend of peaks and (mostly) valleys for McLaren. The Woking team have been in a slump all season long. Gentleman Jenson Button has been candid about his frustrations in the media – including his teammate Sergio Perez. Button’s race was nearly ruined multiple times by the Mexican who’s made it his personal mission to irritate as many drivers on the track as possible.
Perez is eager to prove himself which is understandable, but his style of driving in Monaco was bordering idiotic. His race eventually came to an end after suffering damage, following the shunt with Kimi Raikkonen – that wasn’t before he nearly took out his teammate heading out of La Rascasse. Button is clearly frustrated this season and is suffering with a car that won’t perform.
There’s been a lot of upheaval behind the scenes at McLaren, including the official departure of technical director Paddy Lowe – who like Hamilton has headed to Mercedes. After a clean pass on Alonso, Button was able to secure his 6th place finish on Sunday.
Overall it wasn’t the most exciting Monaco Grand Prix ever, but it certainly kept things interesting. The European season proper will be in full swing following a brief stop in Montreal. The Canadian Grand Prix is in 2 weeks.
Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.