Nico Rosberg kept a cool head through several incidents and pressure from Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the second year in a row. Hamilton suffered vision loss when a piece of debris got in his left eye and nearly cost him second place to Daniel Ricciardo, who completed the podium. Elsehwere, Marussia F1 scored their first ever points thanks to Jules Bianchi’s 9th place finish.
Rosberg took Pole by less than a tenth of a second from his team mate on Saturday. The session ended in suspicious circumstances when Rosberg nearly crashed, and brought out the yellow flags, thus forcing his team to abandon his final run.
Marcus Ericsson was handed 2 penalty points and a pit lane start due to a crash with Felipe Massa in Q1.
At the start, the Silver Arrows maintained their places, but Kimi Raikkonen surged forwards from 6th to 4th, nestling in behind his team mate. The cars made their way around the lap, but at Mirabaeu, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez tangled; the Mexican out on the spot. His Force India was stuck in the middle of the track and inevitably the Safety Car was deployed.
The Safety Car stayed out for two laps while the vehicle was cleared, and when it came in, demise was the order of the day for both Red Bulls – Raikkonen passed Ricciardo, and then Sebastian Vettel suffered a power failure which saw him drop to 20th. He came in for attemped repairs, but his RB10 was going nowhere fast, and he duly retired. Six laps later, another Renault-powered car retired; Daniil Kvyat.
Last year for Force India, Adrian Sutil made a lot of moves on a track which is nigh-on impossible to overtake. A change of team did not affect this for 2014, and after an early pit stop under the Safety Car, he made swift progress at the expense of Ericsson and Chilton. The German was looking to make progress through the back-markers, but on lap 26 he was pitched into the barriers when braking at the bumpy Nouvelle Chicane. Adrian was okay, but the track was littered with chunks of Sauber, and the Safety Car returned again.
The best overtake of the race came courtesy of Nico Hulkenberg on Kevin Magnussen, who somehow squeezed down the inside at the corner before the tunnel.
Raikkonen’s potential podium was wiped out when he got a puncture during the yellow flag period. He pitted and was down to 14th, so it was a comfort to him when he managed to pass Kamui Kobayashi at Rascasse. Jules Bianchi followed him through as well, something that paid dividends at the end of the race. Bianchi then went on to pass fellow Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, but not too long after, Vergne retired with an engine failure.
Monaco usually has a higher rate of attrition than elsewhere, and Valtteri Bottas obliged that statistic less than a lap later, when his engine erupted into plumes of smoke too. Esteban Gutierrez added to the list of casualties too, clipping his rear wheel on the barrier at Rascasse and ruining his suspension.
In the later laps of the race Hamilton dropped back from Rosberg. The Brit had strangely got some debris in his eye, and suffered a loss of vision in his left eye. He dropped well back, and Daniel Ricciardo closed to within less than a second.
After his puncture, Raikkonen was keen to make up places, but an over-ambitious move on Magnussen saw the pair go ever so gently into the barrier. Both cars continued, but it let Jules Bianchi get up to P8. Bianchi would have finished there, but a 5 second penalty for being in the wrong grid slot dropped him behind Romain Grosjean. Still, a fantastic result for the team.
1) N Rosberg, Mercedes AMG
2) L Hamilton, Mercedes AMG
3) D Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
4) F Alonso, Ferrari
5) N Hulkenberg, Force India
6) J Button, McLaren
7) F Massa, Williams
8) R Grosjean, Lotus
9) J Bianchi, Marussia
10) K Magnussen, McLaren
11) M Ericsson, Caterham
12) K Raikkonen, Ferrari
13) K Kobayashi, Caterham
E Gutierrez, Sauber (Accident)
V Bottas, Williams (Engine)
JE Vergne, Toro Rosso (Engine)
A Sutil, Sauber (Accident)
D Kvyat, Toro Rosso (Mechanical problem)
S Vettel, Red Bull Racing (MGU-H)
S Perez, Force India (Collision)
P Maldonado, Lotus (Did not start)
The result moves Rosberg back up to the top of the drivers’ standings by just 4 points. Alonso and Ricciardo follow, then German duo Hulkenberg and Vettel. The relationship between the Mercedes drivers appears to be getting more and more strained, as the childhood friends both push towards the Championship. Marussia’s first points sees them move ahead of not only nemesis Caterham, but unthinkably, established team Sauber.
The next race will be in Canada on June 8th.