RED BULL’S Daniel Ricciardo finished in third to complete the podium for the prestigious race in Monaco; his second podium finish in 2014.Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fourth with Hulkenberg and Button just behind. Williams Racing’s Felipe Massa placed seventh whilst Jules Bianchi in the Marussia crossed the line eighth. A five second penalty would drop the Marussia driver to ninth, but it would be enough for the small Marussia team to score their first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix drivers’ and constructors’ championship points.
As the lights went out to start the 85th Monaco Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton got off the line cleanly with Rosberg led the pair into the first corner. The pack behind followed cleanly as everyone made it through turn 1 without incident. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, starting from sixth, found a clear run up the outside track to jump into fourth place, whilst Sebastian Vettel moved into third, knocking Daniel Ricciardo into fifth place with Alonso bearing down on him.
Shortly thereafter, Jenson Button came into contact with the rear wheel or Force India’s Sergio Perez, spinning him into the crash barrier and bringing out the Safety Car for three laps as the cleanup was completed. During the Safety Car period, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, who stalled on the grid before the formation lap, pulled his car into the pit lane and retired from the race.
The Safety Car came back in at the end of lap 3, leaving Rosberg once again to back up the pack, and then lead into lap number 4 with Hamilton putting pressure on his teammate in front. As the pack pulled away, Sebastian Vettel was seen to be crawling slowly around the track, citing a lack of power as the main problem. He would take a prolonged pit stop whilst the team examined the car before rejoining the race a full lap down. Vettel would quickly inform the team again of a problem that he was stuck in first gear and just two laps later on the 8th lap of the race, Vettel retired his car becoming the third DNF of the day.
10 laps into the 78 lap race and Rosberg still lead Hamilton with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in third.
To add to the stewards busy day yesterday, on lap 11 it was announced that Chilton, Bianchi and Gutierrez would be investigated for their cars being out of position on the grid. This would add to the steward’s investigation of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s first lap collision. Kvyat became the fourth retirement on lap 12 with an un-disclosed problem and Lotus confirmed that a fuel-system related issue forced Maldonado’s retirement.
A few laps later, the steward’s verdict was in on those out of position on the grid at the start of the race. Both Marussia drivers Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, as well as Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, were handed 5 second stop and go penalties. Whilst track positions remained unchanged at the front of the pack, the mid-pack also remained relatively stable as the Williams’ of Bottas and Massa held fort in 10th and 11th and Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi impressing in 13th ahead of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi and Sauber’s Adrian Sutil. Moments later on lap 24, a pit stop further up the grid moved Kamui Kobayashi into P12, a season best position for the Caterham driver but with over half the race to be run remaining.
Super soft tyres
Several drivers were able to save a set of super soft tyres over the course of qualifying which would allow them to stop twice during the race instead of the assumed one-stop strategies which Pirelli had expected. Romain Grosjean was one of those drivers, stopping for fresh rubber on lap 25 and rejoining in last place.
The Safety Car was deployed for its second run of the afternoon on lap 26 after Sutil crashed his Sauber at Chicane. This of course would trigger chaos in the pit lane as the majority of teams attempted to take advantage of the slowed pace. Mercedes, leading the race with Rosberg and holding second with Hamilton, would stack their drivers pitting Rosberg first and Hamilton immediately thereafter. Smooth stops meant the two would rejoin the race in their previous positions, but Hamilton voiced his frustration of the strategies later in the lap.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen also had a close encounter in the pit lane when Vergne pulled out of his pit box early, almost hitting the front of the McLaren as the two rejoined the race and immediately calling for an unsafe release investigation on Vergne from the race stewards. Kimi Raikkonen also stopped twice over the course of the Safety Car period after Ferrari stated the Finn was hit by a lapped Marussia car. The second stop knocked the Finn from third place down to 13th, all but wrecking the hard work completed at the start of the race.
The race restarted for the second time after the Safety Car came in at the end of lap 30 and Rosberg once more quickly pulled away, forcing almost a full seconds’ gap over Hamilton in very little time. On lap 35, Jean-Eric Vergne was handed the expected drive-through penalty for unsafe release in the pit lane whilst the two Mercedes traded fastest laps.
At the back of the grid, more racing excitement as Marussia’s Jules Bianchi made a bold overtaking move on Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi, making the move stick at Rascasse but coming into contact with the Caterham no more than three times. The move would put Bianchi into 13th place before moving ahead one more place into 12th after passing Vergne (who was completing his drive-through penalty).
Felipe Massa pit his Williams on lap 46 after a 45 lap stint on his first set of tyres which were the supersoft compound – the longest of any driver in the Grand Prix today. Stopping from fifth place, a quick stop would see Massa rejoin the race in 11th; just out of the points with 32 laps remaining in the race.
Toro Rosso car on fire
Jean-Eric Vergne retired the second Toro Rosso car on lap 53 with smoke billowing from the car. Making it back to the pits before the car caught fire, it was a double DNF for the Toro Rosso team in Monaco. Vergne became the sixth person to retire from the race followed quickly by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas on lap 57 who suffered from an engine failure. Bottas was retirement number 7, leaving 15 racers with 21 laps to go. Retirement number 8 came in quick succession when Esteban Gutierrez clipped the barrier and broke his rear suspension on lap 63 after spinning at Rascasse.
With just four laps remaining, Daniel Ricciardo had come out of nowhere to get within one second of Lewis Hamilton in second place. Telling the team he ‘didn’t care’ where Ricciardo was as he wanted to battle for the win with Rosberg, Hamilton suddenly found himself heavily defending second place from Ricciardo whilst Rosberg pulled into the distance.
Ultimately, it would be Hamilton who would hold on to second place, crossing the line just ahead of Riccardo as the chequered flag fell whilst teammate Nico Rosberg won the race.
Nico Rosberg now leads the Drivers’ World Championship by 5 points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton whilst Mercedes continues to utterly dominate the Constructors’ World Championship.
The Formula 1 calendar resumes in two weeks’ time when the circus arrives in Montreal for the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2014 on the weekend of June 06 – 08.
Pos. Driver Team Gap Pit
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG 78 laps – 1h49m27.661s 1
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG +9.210 1
03 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault +9.614 1
04 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +32.452 1
05 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes +1 lap 1
06 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes +1 lap 1
07 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes +1 lap 1
08 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault +1 lap 2
09 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari +1 lap 1
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes +1 lap 1