ALONSO SECURES EMOTIONAL VICTORY FOR MICHELIN Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) clinched his fourth victory of the Formula One world championship season with a dominant drive in today's Monaco Grand Prix - and immediately dedicated his success...
ALONSO SECURES EMOTIONAL VICTORY FOR MICHELIN
Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) clinched his fourth victory of the Formula One world championship season with a dominant drive in today's Monaco Grand Prix - and immediately dedicated his success to the memory of Edouard Michelin, who died on Friday.
The Spaniard controlled the gruelling, 78-lap race from start to finish and headed a Michelin clean sweep of the top four positions. Immediately after his success, the Spaniard said: "After what has happened this weekend, I think is appropriate that Michelin drivers took the first three places and I would like to dedicate my victory to Edouard Michelin."
Alonso qualified on pole position - but did not know as much until late on Saturday night, seven hours after grid times had been set. The race stewards decided that provisional pole winner Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) had deliberately stopped his car on the circuit to thwart his rivals' chances of improving their lap times and for that they sent him to the back of the grid. The German, who protested his innocence, ultimately opted to start the race from the pit lane with a fresh engine.
Alonso made a clean start but was soon under pressure from Kimi Räikkönen (M cLaren Mercedes/Michelin), who muscled Mark Webber (Williams Cosworth) out of second place at the start of lap two. "Kimi didn't really cause me a problem," Alonso said. "Overtaking is almost impossible here, so I was just being easy on my car and tyres and saving everything for the moments when it was really important to push."
He remained ahead of Räikkönen once both had made their first stops - and they dived into the pits as one on lap 49, when the Safety Car was deployed after Webber pulled up with the rear of his car on fire following an exhaust failure. Alonso once again emerged in front of his Finnish adversary - and Räikkönen dropped out soon afterwards with an engine problem of his own.
That left Alonso comfortably clear of Montoya and the Spaniard went on to secure his 12th F1 victory - his fourth of the campaign - and Michelin's 98th. The defending world champion now leads this year's title chase by 21 points.
Coulthard ran strongly all weekend and worked his way through from seventh on the grid to secure Red Bull Racing's first podium finish. He had a little help en route, profiting from the retirements of Räikkönen, Webber, Jarno Trulli (Toyota, hydraulics) and Red Bull team-mate Christian Klien to earn his first top-three finish since the 2003 Japanese GP. The Scot opted for a one-stop strategy - and his Michelins remained in good condition at the end of his second stint, the longest of the race at 49 laps.
Rubens Barrichello (Honda/Michelin) ran ahead of Coulthard initially, but the Brazilian was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits and was forced to settle for fourth after repelling a late-race challenge from the recovering Schumacher.
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault/Michelin) finished sixth after pulling off a string of spectacular overtaking manoeuvres and Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber F1 Team, seventh) also scored points for Michelin. Of the remaining Michelin runners, Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso) finished 10th - his best result of the campaign - ahead of Jenson Button (Honda, 11th), Scott Speed (Toro Rosso, 13th) and Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber F1 Team, 14th). The latter served a drive-through penalty after inadvertently passing Nico Rosberg (Williams) while the Safety Car was on the track.