Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
By Steve Aibel
Monaco! A race of surprise, drama, failure, crashes and penalties.
This year’s race, again, involved all of those elements. While Lewis Hamilton controlled the vast majority of the race, it was Nico Rosberg who took victory for the third time in a row at the fabled track, matching Ayrton Senna, Graham Hill and Alain Prost.
Rosberg was followed home by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. Rosberg halved the gap in the Driver’s Championship and now follows Hamilton by only 10 points. The back and forth momentum has rekindled the excitement from last season and we have a battle royale heading into Canada.
The glitz and glamour of Formula 1’s crown jewel took place along the Cote d’Azur in the principality of Monaco. The streets of Monte Carlo are a unique setting that perches Monaco apart from any other racing venue in the world. Simply put, it is the greatest racing spectacle in the world!
Monaco is often viewed as a race against the track versus the competition. The fans are closer to the action in this race. It is a place everyone wants to be and it starts, perhaps, the greatest day of racing of the year.
Qualifying saw Lewis Hamilton grab his first pole position at the fabled track. As the lights went out, Hamilton edged Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg for the coveted advantage leading into Sainte Devote and up the hill toward the casino. This running order held true and Hamilton possessed control of this race through lap 64. It looked to be a wire-to-wire win for the British racing star.
Then all hell broke loose!
In what was an exciting battle for position, Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean ran nose to tail until Verstappen impacted the right rear tire of Grosjean’s Lotus. Verstappen went straight into the wall and brought out the first virtual safety car of the season, which was quickly followed by a true safety car.
Verstappen and Grosjean had different accounts of what transpired. Verstappen said that Grosjean braked earlier than he did the previous lap while Grosjean said Verstappen was overly anxious to get his faster Toro Rosso past. Either way, this changed the race to Rosberg’s benefit.
As a consequence, this is where Hamilton lost the Grand Prix!
An odd strategy call from the Mercedes pit brought Hamilton in for a quick refresh of super-soft rubber. When Hamilton returned to the track, he found himself behind both Rosberg and Vettel. This was a shocker as Mercedes thought they had the gap covered to allow for a quick pit stop. In a track that is notoriously difficult to pass, the running order was now fixed and Rosberg ran off to his second victory. Hamilton was left to battle Vettel, and eventually had to settle for a disappointing third place finish.
As Nico celebrated in his home race, Hamilton took a very slow cool down lap, stopping just before the tunnel to look at the Mediterranean Sea for a long personal cool down. He then before returned to the podium. Probably a very wise move!
Now, it is GAME ON at Mercedes!
One can certainly understand the frustration felt by Hamilton. He controlled the majority of the race, slowly edging away from teammate Rosberg. His only concern was a slight brake worry early in the first run. Hamilton was able to control his lap times and reduce the brake temperature until the bungle between Verstappen and Grosjean.
Coupled with a new 150 million dollar contract, Hamilton has shown everyone why Mercedes committed to three more years with the World Champion. After two sequential victories in Monaco by teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton came to Monte Carlo to reclaim the momentum as he works toward his third championship. Instead, the momentum shifted to Rosberg.
Red Bull Racing had a strong Grand Prix with their drivers securing 4th and 5th position. Daniil Kvyat made a great start jumping ahead of Daniel Ricciardo at the start of the race.
Both Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa suffered issues on the opening lap due to small collisions, which dropped them into the pits. Fernando Alonso was given a 5 second penalty for the contact, which put Hulkenberg off track. Massa was hit by Pastor Maldonado who was dealing with a long pedal and retired due to brake failure; the first casualty of the toughest F1 race.
Sergio Perez registered Force India’s best performance of the year bringing home a 7th position for the team.
McLaren secured 4 points for the first time in the new McLaren/Honda era. While Fernando Alonso retired with a gearbox issue on lap 41, Jenson Button brought his McLaren MP4-30 home in 8th position in what has to be a relief for the team from Woking.
Although McLaren leave Monaco with at least some good news and points, Williams had a disappointing weekend with both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa struggling to find any pace whatsoever and finishing 14th and 15th respectively.
As the paddock head to Canada in two weeks time, the spotlight is firmly on the battle emerging between the two Mercedes drivers. Rosberg has carefully been carving into Hamilton’s lead. At this point, Lewis has the points lead but Nico has the momentum and a two race win streak.
We have a championship battle! See you all in Canada!
- Lewis Hamilton 126
- Nico Rosberg 116
- Sebastian Vettel 98
- Kimi Raikkonen 60
- Valtteri Bottas 42
- Felipe Massa 39
- Daniel Ricciardo 35
- Daniil Kvyat 17
- Romain Grosjean 16
- Felipe Nasr 16
- Sergio Perez 11
- Carlos Sainz Jr. 9
- Nico Hulkenberg 6
- Max Verstappen 6
- Marcus Ericsson 5
- Jenson Button 4
- Mercedes 242
- Ferrari 158
- Williams 81
- Red Bull 52
- Sauber 21
- Force India 17
- Lotus 16
- Toro Rosso 15
- McLaren 4
- Manor/Marussia 0