Monaco victory brings Mark Webber's career to new heights After the Monaco Grand Prix, race winner Australian Mark Webber is now leading the drivers' championship, albeit that Webber has to share his first place with his team mate, German ...
Monaco victory brings Mark Webber's career to new heights
After the Monaco Grand Prix, race winner Australian Mark Webber is now leading the drivers' championship, albeit that Webber has to share his first place with his team mate, German Sebastian Vettel; both have scored 78 points during the last six races. With another one-two victory the Red Bull team is leading the constructors' championship as well with 156 points, followed by Ferrari with 136 points, and McLaren with 129 points. Webber, who still doesn't have a contract for 2011, dominated the race from start to finish and not even Vettel was a threat to him.
Webber's career has in the past been plagued by bad luck and wrong career choices, which meant he ended up at the wrong teams at the wrong time. He started his Formula One career very promising with Minardi in 2002, and during his first race, the Australian Grand Prix, he scored two points. In 2003 he joined the Jaguar team, but after two disappointing years, he was forced to look for another employer when Jaguar at the end of 2004 announced they would leave Formula One.
In 2005 he joined the Williams team, again with disappointing results. In 2007 he moved on to his current employer, the Red Bull Racing team. His results during the first two seasons were not good, he ended 14th and 12th in the championship. But in 2009 Webber finally saw a huge improvement in his career, he won two races and waa 4th in the championship. And now after winning two races he is, together with Vettel, one of the favorites for the 2010 title. Webber himself remains cautious about this chances for the title: "We're in a good position and we have a good foundation, but no one knows who is going to be in the hunt with a few races to go. I don't think It's between two guys."
Monaco still popular
After 60 years of Grand Prix racing, and with the ever increasing speeds and the incredible down force of a modern Formula One car, racing on the streets of Monaco in 2010 has become sheer madness. If Monaco would not have been such a historic and glamorous place, the Formula One circus would have left the circuit far behind them in the early seventies, when drivers like Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda wrestled their cars through the streets of the principality. Although the Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious race on the calendar, it does not mean the race was spectacular as well, the first part of the race was certainly interesting to watch, but the second part wasn't very eventful, closely matched cars and the narrow streets resulted in little overtaking opportunities.
Crashes and safety cars spiced up the race
It didn't take long before the first drivers became a victim of the circuit, after the start all drivers completed the fist lap unscathed, except Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, who crashed in the tunnel at high speed. The safety car came out for the first time while Hulkenberg begun his walk of shame back to the pits. Hulkenberg, who already had a bad start because of a clutch problem, commmented, "I'm then not entirely sure what happened. The car felt odd one minute and the next I was in the wall. I am really disappointed not to have completed the race and get the mileage under my belt, but that's life." Williams later determined the crash was the result of a front wing failure and had caused a massive understeer which send the Williams straight into the wall.
The race was restarted, but the safety car came out on lap 30 for the second time after Williams driver Rubens Barrichello had crashed at Beau Rivage after a rear suspension failure. The Brazilian hit he barriers hard at the left, crossed the track and hit the barriers again at the right hand side of the circuit. Disgusted about his unexpected crash, he threw the steering wheel out of the car and climbed over the fence to start his walk back to the pits. Barrichello, who was in 10th position when he crashed said, "I had such a good start but the car started to feel really strange after the pit stop. The steering wheel, in particular, didn't feel normal. The problem continued to get worse and then I crashed."
After the race was restarted for the second time, it became somewhat boring. On lap 43 the safety car came out again, not because of a crash, but because there was a loose drainage cover in Turn 3, where Barrichello had crashed. And on lap 74 the safety car was back on the track for the fourth and last time, after a ridiculous attempt of Jarno Trulli to overtake Karun Chandhok on the inside of Rascasse. Trulli's Lotus leapfrogged Chandhok's HRT and both cars stranded at the same place where Schumacher parked his Ferrari during qualifying in 2006.
This happened right in front of race leader Webber, who was lucky he didn't run into the stationary cars. Although the Lotus went right over Chandhok's head, he was unhurt, and after the race the Indian remarked that Trulli had apologized for his move, and even said "he had the race of his life". The race ended under the safety car, and gave Webber his second victory of the season. For a complete result of the Monaco GP and the standings in the championship, follow the links at the bottom of this page.
FIA Stewards Report
On Thursday during the first free practice session, Button was fined 800 Euro for speeding in the pit lane. On Saturday during qualifying Barrichello was fined 1,000 Euro for the same offence. On Sunday Webber was fined 2,200 Euro also for speeding in the pit lane prior to the start of the race.
At the end of Sunday's race, the FIA released a statement: The FIA Stewards received a report from the Race Director that car No. 3 (Michael Schumacher) overtook car No. 8 (Fernando Alonso) when the Safety Car entered the pit lane at the end of the last lap. As the overtaking manoeuvre was in breach of Article 40.13 of the 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations, the FIA Stewards decided to impose a drive through penalty but, as it occurred during the last five laps, 20 seconds were added to the elapsed race time of Schumacher.
Article 40.13 of the Sporting regulations reads: If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.
The Schumacher case
Although his cheeky overtaking action was spectacular and well timed, Schumacher again finds himself in the middle of another controversy, which seems to be one of the hallmarks of his career. The FIA claims the race ended under the safety car, but the Mercedes team insists that the safety car had pulled into the pit lane, and claim they had not received any instructions from the FIA Stewards that indicated the race would finish under the safety car. They also argued green flags were waved and the message 'track clear' was displayed on the official monitors, which would, according to Mercedes, mean the race had been restarted.
The safety car regulations have been revised for 2010, and now state that cars are allowed to overtake as soon as the safety car has pulled into the pit lane (as described in Article 40.7), while in 2009 drivers had to wait until they had passed the start-finish line before overtaking another car.
Article 40.7 of the Sporting regulations: "...overtaking is forbidden until the cars reach the first safety car line after the safety car has returned to the pits."
But that is not the issue here, the penalty was based upon Article 40.13 and the big question is ... did the race indeed finish under the safety car or not? Mercedes have now decided not to appeal the decision. Whatever the outcome of such an appeal would have been, Schumacher would not have had his seventh position back, also according to the regulations, a drive through penalty is not subject to appeals (but the decision itself is), however, the appeal could have clarified the situation and could have been used as a future reference.
Bridgestone tyre report
There were no problems at all with the Super Soft and Medium tyre compounds the Japanese company had allocated for the race. Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima: "Today I am proud to say that both compounds of Bridgestone Potenzas performed very well and a variety of strategies were possible. The medium compound was so strong. It provided good lap times right up to the end of the race, even when it had been used for 77 laps as in the case of Fernando Alonso, who achieved a good result after starting from the pit lane. The super soft compound also showed praiseworthy performance, even with the heavy fuel loads at the start of the race."
Retirements solved the traffic problems
Many drivers were convinced the race in Monaco would become a disaster, and were concerned about the number of cars on the track and the speed of the new teams. But as qualifying already had showed, there were no problems with slower cars and there was no chaos. And the problem of having 24 cars on track was quickly solved by the many retirements.
Button had to abandon the race after two laps because his Mercedes engine had overheated. One of the McLaren mechanics had forgotten to remove a cooling cover when Button left the pit lane and was heading for the start grid. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh about the unfortunate mistake said, "It was devastating for the person responsible. I know these things happen, but it's hard to accept it when it does." Button was also surprisingly mild in his comments: "I am sure the guy is gutted and I feel sorry for him in a way. We just have to make sure we don't do that again."
After two laps there were 22 cars still in the race, and after the first regular pit stops between laps 19 and 24, a number of drivers got into trouble. Virgin driver Timo Glock had to abandon the race on lap 22 when his rear suspension failed in the Casino corner. His team mate Lucas di Grassi had to retire one lap later, with a rear wheel problem that occurred after his pit stop.
During his pit stop BMW-Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa wasn't able to get out of the pit lane again, and he was pushed back into the garage and retired with a hydraulic problem. His team mate Kamui Kobayashi has a successful pit stop, but a few laps later had to give up due to gearbox problems. On lap 27 there were still 18 cars in the race, and when the safety car left the track after Barrichello's crash, only 17 cars resumed the race.
On lap 59 Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen came into the pits with a steering problem, and was not able to continue the race. On the same lap HRT driver Bruno Senna had to give up his race as well, also due to a mechanical problem, and on lap 60 there were only 15 cars left. On lap 70 Trulli and Chanhok were eliminated, on lap 73 Vitaly Petrov retired, and by the time race winner Webber crossed the finish line, there were only 12 cars left.
And that is how the 57th Grand Prix of Monaco ended, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, no chaos, no havoc, three crashes, a lot of retirements, with a very happy Webber and a very happy Red Bull team, who partied until early Monday morning. Next stop will be on May 30, for the Turkish GP at Istanbul Park.