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A record breaking Monaco…

Posted by Carrot on May 29, 2012 | No Comments

…but not what I’d call a classic. It was the closest finish in Monaco history and resulted in the sixth different driver of the year taking the laurels. However the racing wasn’t lap by lap tension, it seemed to a race driven by the pit wall strategists rather than the drivers giving us everything.

Mark Webber took his first race of the year, and his second Monaco win after his dominance in 2010. After his last win in the famous streets we all know how close he came to taking the title, if he can turn this into a springboard to kick start a podium run for the rest of the season then Red Bull’s hopes of Sebastian Vettel taking three titles in a row could be under threat. Speaking of our current World Champion, ninth to fourth, less than half a second from the final step of the podium. It was a well run race by the team, Webber controlling the chasing pack while Vettel used the free air and his contrary strategy to gain ground. The reigning champions now lead the constructors’ standings by a healthy margin and both of their drivers are only three points behind Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ table, it’s not the dominance they’re used to, but they’re certainly making the best out of these mixed up results.

Second was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes AMG, while team mate Michael Schumacher got tagged with mechanical problems again. It’s an encouraging result for the team, as we know the controversy at the start of the season was their “super DRS” and here at the track where it’ll be of the least use Rosberg was able to secure a podium. It wasn’t a result of strategy either, at least no more than anyone else’s podium spot was, he was on Webber for the entire race. If Monaco had a longer straight or a slightly wider track out of the tunnel he could have taken Webber during one of the many laps he spent tucked up behind him.

The final podium place was taken by Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. He’s revealed his plan for winning the championship is simply to beat whoever is in the lead or his nearest opponent at each race. Going into the race that was Sebastian Vettel, Alonso beat him, job done and accordingly he went to the top of the table. With the speed in the design now unlocked, Alonso is looking like a serious contender which is something when you consider where the team was in Australia. Now’s usually the time when I point out just out how far behind Felipe Massa was, and how his drive’s in doubt. Indeed before this race the head of Ferrari was being very outspoken about how he had to up his game. So, how far behind was he? Just over five seconds, which is fantastic considering where he’s been in recent history. This could be a return of the same Massa that took Hamilton to the last race in 2009? It’s a fluke until proven otherwise, but the team will need this performance to continue in order to challenge for more than one title.

The fourth fastest team of the Monaco weekend? McLaren. They really have squandered their early season advantage with a slew of basic mistakes, but here they never had the pace to live with the top two or the basic team ability to deal with those that overhauled them through the pit stops. Lewis Hamilton went backwards from his grid slot to finish fifth. Jenson Button had a woeful race, stuck behind Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham, before crashing out in a move that was never going to work. It’s hard to say when they’ll fix all these errors, because a team that’s so established with the kind of staff they have should be avoiding all these problems in their sleep. It’s a mystery to me why it’s continuing.

Rounding out the top ten were the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, in seventh and eighth respectively, which was an excellent result for the team given they’ve not really made an impact this year. Ninth was Kimi Raikkonen, who can’t be pleased considering he was the insider’s pick to challenge for at least a podium. In tenth was Bruno Senna in the remaining Williams. Good result for Senna, on the other side of the Williams garage was conduct for which I’d throw a driver out of F1. I am obviously talking about Pastor Maldonado’s conduct in third practice. A repeat of what he did to Hamilton at Spa in 2011, directly sideswiping Sergio Perez this time because of the grave offence of apparently being ‘blocked’. He got a ten place demotion for this, given this is the second time he’s done this, hero of the last race or not, I fully believe that if there’s ever another incidence he should be slung out of the sport. Relatively slow speed the impact may have been, but it still risks debris hitting marshals or spectators, or alternatively leaving shards of carbon fibre for drivers travelling faster to receive a puncture and have a serious incident.

And that was it really, the most interesting thing about this weekend was Maldonado’s bad behaviour. For all the good the tyres have done, the teams looking for risk free strategies nullified all the advantages of the new Pirelli rubber. Combined with the tight track at Monaco meaning the marbles soon filled up everywhere off line, meant there was little overtaking even with KERS and DRS. But that’s Monaco, breathtaking some years and a parade in others. Next we go to Montreal in Canada, a high speed, tight track that’s notoriously hard on brakes and tyres. Not only that, there are threats of disruptions from the student protesters in the city, and Canada doesn’t have the luxury of deploying totalitarian levels of force like Bahrain did. There could be action on and off the track, and with six different winners in six races, there’s still not a lot that can be said with any certainty. See you there.

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  • Drivers Championship 2013

    1 Kimi Raikkonen 25
    2 Fernando Alonso 18
    3 Sebastian Vettel 15
    4 Felipe Massa 12
    5 Lewis Hamilton 10
    6 Mark Webber 8
    7 Adrian Sutil 6
    8 Paul Di Resta 4
    9 Jenson Button 2
    10 Romain Grosjean 1

  • Constructors Championship 2013

    1 Ferrari 30
    2 Lotus 26
    3 Red Bull 23
    4 Mercedes 10
    5 Force India 10
    6 McLaren 2
    7 Toro Rosso 0
    8 Sauber 0
    9 Williams 0
    10 Marussia 0
    11 Caterham 0