Monaco GP - Sunday - Race Report
Rosberg Rules, Hamilton Fumes
Nico Rosberg ruled the Monaco Grand Prix. He started from pole and led all 78 laps in his Mercedes to win the race for the second consecutive year.
Lewis Hamilton fumed with anger because he believed that Rosberg had deliberated spoiled his qualifying lap by going off the track the day before. That meant Hamilton gridded second in his Mercedes and lost any real chance to win on a track where it is so difficult to pass.
Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, was all smiles after finishing third in his Red Bull and challenging Hamilton for second in the final laps.
"The race started well and I was comfortable but then we had to manage my fuel consumption and Lewis was pushing really hard behind me," Rosberg said. "We were able to be in control of the fuel with a few laps of lift and coast. It was important for me to break Lewis' momentum of winning the last four races this weekend. That worked out very well, but it was a really tough weekend. I'm so happy for the team that we had another one-two finish and look forward to the party tonight!"
Hamilton was definitely not happy and not smiling after finishing second.
"Generally, there is a fierce battle between me and Nico and it will continue that way too I'm sure quite late in the season," he said. "Nico has not had a single hiccup through the season so far. Obviously I had a car that didn't finish in Melbourne but otherwise it's still quite close, so I'm just going to keep my head up, keep pushing. I know the team are working hard for the both of us. The team can sometimes be in awkward positions, which they were yesterday, and their job is really to protect us both and that's what they did."
Rosberg was sure he and his old friend Hamilton will work their way through this rough patch in their relationship. And late that evening after the race Hamilton did give Rosberg a friendly hug.
Both had made an equally good start of off the line when the red lights went out. That was one of basically two chances Hamilton would have to take the lead.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, made a messy start which allowed his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen to get ahead of him. Vettel's day would soon be over as first gearbox problems and then a turbo breaking ended his race.
"I had a good start and then we lost boost pressure from the turbo, so I had no power and had to retire," Vettel said. "The team did everything they could. I felt quite helpless in the car, so I was asking for an answer of what we could do, but there wasn't anything at that stage. We fixed some problems yesterday with the ERS, but some more came today with the turbo, but we will move forwards and it will be good for us soon."
The race was even shorter for Pastor Maldonado, whose Lotus had a fuel pump failure before the final warm-up lap, and for Sergio Perez who got knocked into the wall by Jenson Button on lap one.
"I was in a battle with (Force India teammate) Nico (Hulkenberg), who was ahead," Perez recounted, "and I went to take the apex normally. I was on the racing line and ahead of Jenson when he clipped my rear wheel and spun me around into the barriers. I did not expect him to be there as there wasn't really any space for another car there. It was very unlucky. As a racing driver you have good and bad Sundays but this is definitely one I want to forget as soon as possible."
The accident brought out the first safety car of the race. Just about everybody was going to try to make just one pit stop. Adrian Sutil crashed coming out of the tunnel on lap 24 and that brought out the safety car for the second time and opened the pit stop window.
"I had quite a good start," Sutil said. "In Turn 5 one of the other drivers spun, and as I came around the corner many cars were suddenly stopping in front of me. I had front wing damage which forced me to make a pitstop. I went back onto track almost at the backend of the field, but I was able to gain some positions lap by lap. Unfortunately, coming out of the tunnel I made a mistake when braking, lost the rear and crashed into the guardrail."
Getting ahead of Rosberg during the pit stops was Hamilton's other chance to lead, but the safety car ruined that because Mercedes called both drivers in on the same lap. Hamilton was furious that the team had not called him in a lap earlier.
The order, therefore, was still: Rosberg, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and they all pitted at the end of lap 26. A couple of laps later Raikkonen got a puncture and had to stop again. That handed third place to Ricciardo.
Now it was a case of saving tires, saving fuel and keeping the car off the barriers for the long slog to the end of the race. Some did a better job than others. A frustrated Raikkonen, stuck with the back of the field, tried to barge his way ahead. Officials gave him a reprimand for banging into Kevin Magnussen's McLaren at the hairpin.
"This was a very unlucky day for me," Raikkonen said after finishing 12th, "and a real shame after getting a good start and managing to move up to third place. The car was handling well and had a good pace. Unfortunately, in a Safety Car period, my car was hit by Chilton's Marussia and I had to make an unscheduled stop as my right rear tire was damaged and that meant the end of any chance of getting a good result."
Out in front, Rosberg had to save some fuel but could not be caught even though Hamilton was just only one second behind him. Then, with just over 10 laps to go, Hamilton started dropping back.
"This is such a difficult circuit to overtake," Hamilton said. "I was following Nico as close as I could and had great pace but I just couldn't get past. Towards the end, I got some dirt in my eye through the visor which made it very tough for a few laps but thankfully it cleared up and I was able to hold off Daniel and keep second place. This hasn't been the greatest of weekends but I'll go into the next race with even more energy and determination."
Ricciardo had been conserving tires, but now he took up the attack.
"The race really came to life towards the end," he said. "It started off not so well and it's a really short run to Turn 1, so that was frustrating. Then we got Seb due to his reliability and Kimi had a puncture and we sort of got back to where we were hoping to be.
"After the re-start we were just saving the tires to the point that we could get to the end and then, with 20 laps to go, I thought they would be okay so I pushed. It was the first time in the whole race that I felt like I was really driving the car and we caught Lewis. It was fun but I couldn't get him, so I have to say the race finished better than it started."
Alonso finished a lonely fifth.
"At the start, something in the motor didn't work," the Ferrari driver said, "but even if I'd had full power, there was no room to overtake. The three cars ahead of me deserved to be there as they were really uncatchable. I am pleased with fourth place, because we were able to manage a race in which you had to always maintain the highest level of concentration as there were plenty of tense moments.
"Our pace was good and that means that, bit by bit, we are improving. Sure, the gap to the leaders is still significant, because like us, they are still moving forward on the development front."
Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) beat Jenson Button (McLaren) by 0.192 of a second to claim fifth.
"The last twenty laps were really tricky," Hulkenberg said, "because my super soft tires were at the end of their life and it was hard to hold off the cars behind me and stay away from the barriers. There were a few close moments when I kissed the wall, but I survived and managed to hold on to fifth place.
"Fortunately my car was quick in the right places - going into the tunnel and also through the final corner. There were some enjoyable moments in the race, especially my move on Magnussen. He had to let the Toro Rosso back through and he lost a bit of momentum so I saw my opportunity to stick my nose down the inside of turn 8."
Button enjoyed the duel.
"This," he said, "was a typical Monaco Grand Prix - it was messy out there; people were making mistakes; there were cars all over the place; you had to stay focused; keep up with the pack, and look after the tires, using them when necessary. For the entirety of my final stint, I looked after my tires and dropped back into the clear air behind Kevin (Magnussen.)
"Then it was just about pacing myself to the end. I couldn't quite get past at the end - he was struggling with his tires, but whenever I pushed, I struggled as well, so I couldn't make it stick. In the closing laps, we had a good little battle, but it's so tough when you're shoved up behind another car. It's difficult enough as it is, but when you can't really see anything because there's a car in front, it's even more difficult."
Felipe Massa (Williams), Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Jules Bianchi (Marussia) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) rounded out the top 10. Bianchi finished eighth but was penalized for lining up in the wrong place at the start and dropped to ninth. But he still scored points.
"It is really positive for me," Bianchi said. "It has been a really tough start of the season. The first three races were really difficult, so I needed a really good results like this, and also the team. It's been four years, and now we have done this and I am really happy to be the driver who scored the first points for Marussia."
Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton scored the maximum amount of points for their team for the fifth consecutive race. And they have a good chance of doing that again at the upcoming Grand Prix of Canada. The only question is which one of them will be first, and will things get tense between them again over the race weekend?