By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg stormed to victory in Monaco during round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, exactly 30 years ago after his father Keke Rosberg won the race for Williams in 1983.
A great win for Mercedes, Rosberg kept his cool and remained in control during an incident-packed race on the streets of Monaco, with two Safety Car interventions, and one red flag period. Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took second and third place respectively.
It’s amazing,” Rosberg said to the BBC. “This is my home, I’ve grown up here all my life and it’s really special. The whole weekend went perfectly. I had a terrible start and I was close with Sebastian and Lewis but after that I controlled the pace. The car was really good, the tyres held on OK and that was really the key, so a massive thanks to the team. I’m ecstatic!”
After the start the whole field of 22 cars made it through Saint Devote without damage, but Dutchman Giedo van der Garde hit the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at the end of the first lap, and he had to pit for a new front wing. His team colleague Charles Pic also had a bad day, his Caterham caught fire and after nine laps and he had to stop his car near the pit lane entry.
Sebastian Vettel finished in second place – Photo: Red Bull Racing
After 25 laps were completed, almost the whole top ten rushed into the pit lane for the first tyre stop, but Rosberg remained in first place, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, Vettel, Webber and Fernando Alonso.
Just a few laps later Felipe Massa crashed heavily at the same place where he had crashed on Saturday morning, he first hit the guard rail ahead of Saint Devote and then crashed into the barriers. Massa was okay, but was seen wearing a neck brace. The Safety Car came out and Rosberg and Hamilton decided to pit, but Hamilton emerged from the pit lane in fourth position, while Rosberg remained in the lead.
After the Safety Car had returned to the pits, Hamilton was chasing Webber for third place, but the Australian closed the door and kept the Mercedes behind him. At the same time Alonso had to fend off Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, and Perez was pushing his team colleague Jenson Button.
Perez was on a rampage today – Photo: McLaren
The Mexican got past Button outbraking him at the exit of the tunnel, but he ran wide, cut the chicane and was told by his team to give the place back to Button, who had complained about his team colleague over the radio, and thus the rivalry between the two McLaren drivers re-ignited this afternoon in Monaco.
On lap 45 Max Chilton in the Marussia hit the Williams of Maldonado, the latter crashed hard at Tabac, and the race was red-flagged. Fortunately, Maldonado could get out of his battered Williams unscathed, but Marshals had to repair the guard rail and barriers. Chilton’s actions were rewarded with a drive-through penalty. Maldonado said, “It was an unfortunate incident today with the Marussia car and the impact was quite big. Fortunately I am ok and the stewards took immediate action.”
While waiting for the restart of the race, most drivers used the opportunity to change the tyres, which is allowed according to the FIA regulations.
After some 30 minutes the race was restarted behind the Safety Car, again no problems for Rosberg and he remained in the lead. But Alonso had to hand his place back to Perez, as the Spaniard cut the chicane after Perez attempted to overtake him and forced him off the track just before the red flags came out. Perez, who was on a true rampage today, then tried to overtake Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, but the Finn somehow managed to stay ahead of the Mexican.
More drama unfolded after Raikkonen’s team colleague Romain Grosjean crashed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso after he tried to outbrake him at the exit of the tunnel. Both cars ended up on the escape road, Grosjean limped back to the pits for a new front wing, went out again but had to retire with front suspension damage. It was Grosjean’s third crash of the weekend, and he received a ten-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Safety Car came out again and when the track was cleaned Rosberg again kept his cool and stayed in the lead, but further down the order Perez again did his little trick at the chicane after the tunnel, this time collided with Raikkonen, who just kept his racing line.
The Finn had to pit as his left rear tyre was punctured, meanwhile Perez again cut the chicane to fend off Adrian Sutil in the Force India, but not much later had to give up his race as he had sustained even more damage to his car.
Great race for Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Hamilton finished in fourth place, while Sutil was fifth for Force India, Button was sixth and Alonso seventh. Raikkonen finished in tenth place and thus added one point to his tally.
Vettel said after the race, “Overall I’m happy and pleased with the result, we know that it’s very difficult to overtake here. Congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job and had a very controlled race; I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer to him.” And the triple World Champion added, “It was hard with the restarts, but we can be happy with the result.”
Also a good day for Sutil, who finished in fifth place and the German said, “Fifth place feels fantastic. It’s just the result we needed and I’m very happy right now. The car felt very good and we made the most of the chances that came our way.” About the race itself he said, “It was difficult to move forward in the first half of the race when I was stuck in the train of cars, but the red flag opened up some more opportunities.”
Vettel is still leading the Drivers’ Championship, followed by Raikkonen and Alonso. Red Bull is still leading the race for the Constructors’ title, while Ferrari and Lotus are second and third. Next race is the Canadian Grand Prix, on June 9.