Circuit de Monaco
Best Ferrari result of the season
Monaco, 29 May - A week is a long time in Formula 1 and to prove it, just seven days on from a very disappointing Spanish Grand Prix, today, Fernando Alonso secured his and the team’s best finish of the season, standing in second place on the unusual trackside podium in Monaco. The podium was not the only unusual thing about this street circuit on a day that produced yet another brilliant motor race.
Sebastian Vettel took his fifth win of the year for Red Bull Racing, but he was pushed very hard by Fernando and third placed Jenson Button in the McLaren. The top three all adopted different strategies, changing tyres once, twice and three times respectively and at the chequered flag, just 2.3 seconds covered them. As for Felipe Massa, he too appeared to be heading for a good finish, but after Hamilton drove into him, maiming the 150º Italia, he crashed out in the tunnel and his race was over.
When the lights went out, Fernando nearly repeated his Spanish start, this time managing to move up just one place to third, by getting ahead of Webber. Felipe got caught out by Rosberg and this would cause him problems, stuck behind the slower Mercedes for too long to stay in touch with the leaders. In fact, it was Felipe’s misfortune which changed the character of the race: Having pitted on la 26, he dropped to 11th and found Hamilton on his tail and a few laps later, the Brazilian’s 150º Italia was damaged when the Englishman tried a totally impossible move as he attempted to pass the Ferrari man at the hairpin.
With a damaged car, Felipe was powerless and the McLaren man forced him wide in the tunnel, onto the dirt and into the barrier. The Safety Car came out and the field bunched up with Button and Fernando chasing Vettel. On lap 48, Button pitted for a third time, which left Fernando 6.2 seconds behind Alonso. From then on the gap diminished until it reached 0.2 seconds on lap 61 of the 78 lap race. In other words, the Ferrari was all over the Red Bull, but Fernando was also having to watch his mirrors for Button.
Fernando was closing and attacking whenever he could, principally down the pit straight, but then, with just a few laps remaining a multiple shunt brought out the Safety Car again. There were concerns for Petrov who was still in his car and apparently in pain, therefore wisely, the race was actually red flagged.
The cars formed up on the grid for what would effectively be a six lap sprint to the flag, but the conditions of the restart would not suit Fernando, as teams were free to work on their cars. This meant that Vettel, who had done a very long stint on the Prime tyre, which was fitted by mistake by his team at his only stop, was able to defend his lead on nice fresh tyres. Fernando’s chances effectively ended there, but nevertheless, a second place at Monaco is a wonderful result.
Behind the podium trio, Webber was fourth, ahead of Kobayashi, the Japanese Sauber driver thus taking his best ever F1 result. Hamilton was sixth, even though he was given a 20 second penalty for causing the accident with Felipe, but this did not change his position, as seventh placed Sutil was a lap down. Behind the Force India driver came Heidfeld eighth for Renault, with Barrichello and Buemi taking the final points.
Canada beckons in two weeks time and from the technical side, there will be some updates on the car which it is hoped will produce a further improvement in car performance and there is no denying that being able to use the Pirelli soft and supersoft tyres is a plus point.