Race: Rosberg Wins Crash-Strewn Monaco GP

Sunday 26th May 2013

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Race: Rosberg Wins Crash-Strewn Monaco GP

Race: Rosberg Wins Crash-Strewn Monaco GP

Hometown boy Nico Rosberg survived three restarts to win Sunday's Monaco GP, his first of the season and only his second career win.

It was an incident-strewn race that saw Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber come home in second and third places, with an unlucky Lewis Hamilton finishing fourth.

The first Safety Car of the season came out on Lap 31 when Felipe Massa, produced an identical accident to his crash in final practice on Saturday. Later, the race was red-flagged when Pastor Maldonado hit Max Chilton. The final Safety Car came out when Romain Grosjean had his fourth accident of the weekend when he hit Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso.

Race Report
It was quite a change from qualifying, with sun bathing the Monaco harbour and an ambient temperature of 18C with the track up at 41C.

Grid: 1.Rosberg, 2.Hamilton, 3.Vettel, 4.Webber, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Alonso, 7.Perez, 8.Sutil, 9.Button, 10.Vergne, 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Ricciardo, 13.Grosjean, 14.Bottas, 15.Van der Garde, 16.Maldonado, 17.DiResta, 18.Pic, 19.Gutierrez, 20.Bianchi, 21.Massa, 22.Chilton

Ricciardo, Grosjean and Massa elected to start on the Soft tyres with the rest of the field starting on SuperSofts. Jules Bianchi failed to get off the grid and his Marussia was pushed to the pitlane.

As the lights went out both the Mercedes got strong starts, but Vettel's was even better and he looked to force his way through on the inside - something that was unlikely to come off. And didn't.

All the action on the opening lap was down to the Lowe's (Grand Hotel/Station) hairpin with Adrian Sutil - who had been passed by Button at the start - losing parts of his front wing as he made a very tentative stab at getting past Button. Giedo van der Garde's great Monaco weekend came to an abrupt halt as he knocked off his front wing on the opening lap. Maldonado also was involved in a collision and had to head back to the pits.

Further round the lap, Sergio Perez started a busy afternoon of trading paintwork with other cars by having a small coming together with Jenson Button into the tunnel chicane. Button was soon on team radio to point that out and the fact that Perez had missed it.

Positions at the end of Lap 11.Rosberg, 2.Hamilton, 3.Vettel, 4.Webber, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Alonso, 7.Perez, 8.Button, 9.Sutil,10.Vergne, 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Bottas, 13.Ricciardo, 14.Di Resta.

Vettel hadn't finished trying to get into P2 and on Lap 2 he was almost side by side with Lewis Hamilton going into Mirabeau but Hamilton held the line and the place. In the early stages of the race the gaps were very close between the leading cars, although Alonso began to drop steadily off Kimi Raikkonen. The gap between P5 and P6 went out to 3.5 seconds by Lap 10, although Alonso looked more to be conserving his tyres more than losing touch through lack of pace.

On Lap 9 the Caterham of Charles Pic had stopped near Rascasse with a gearbox fired. Anticipating a Safety Car, the Force India team brought Paul Di Resta in for a tyre stop, but the incident was dealt with under waved yellows instead. Di Resta dropped back to P19. In his earlier dice with Jenson Button, Perez had cut the chicane and the McLaren team shuffled Button back in front without allowing Sutil behind to take advantage

Rosberg and Hamilton, despite rapidly losing speed at Bahrain and Barcelona, showed no sign of wearing their tyres out on the streets of Monaco - neither were they adopting the tactic of having one car shoot off into the distance while the other held the field up.

The gaps on Lap 19 were: Rosberg 2.1 to Hamilton, 2.2 to Vettel, 1.6 to Webber, 1.0 to Raikkonen, 2.6 to Alonso, 1.1 to Perez, 1.4 to Button.

There was no change in race order all the way through to Lap 22 when Daniel Ricciardo came in for his first scheduled pitstop. Then it was a question of how soon the front runners would wait, because as cars approached the Lap 25 mark, it was assumed that everyone could and would run just one stop. And so exactly where your car came out would cement your place for the rest of the grand prix.

Maldonado had a coming together with Jules Bianchi and lost parts of his front wing again on Lap 23.

Mark Webber set a Fastest lap of 1:19.750 on Lap 24 and then dived for the pits at the end of Lap 25. He exited in P11. Team-mate Vettel then put in the Fastest Lap of 1:19.748 but stayed out much longer than Webber.

Button and Raikkonen were in at the end of Lap 26, Alonso on Lap 28 (and stayed behind Raikkonen and in front of Button). Perez and Vergne at the end of Lap 29 just after a repeat accident from Felipe Massa. Massa's Ferrari duplicated the same tyre-locking accident into Ste Devote that he'd managed in final practice and hit the barriers hard.

It looked as though it might bring out the Safety Car and on Lap 30, Vettel and Sutil dived for the pits, but the incident looked to be controlled by waved yellows. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were still flying along at the front, Rosberg with a 3.0 second lead over Hamilton. However, with Massa looking like he might need medical attention the Safety Car was then deployed to allow the medical car on track and it was action stations in the Mercedes pit as the team knew they had to pit Rosberg and Hamilton together. The Safety Car was deployed just as the Mercedes started Lap 31.That indecision in bringing the cars in cost the Mercedes team a 1-2 in the race. They managed to get Rosberg out in front of the Red Bulls, but Hamilton was slow into the pits and could only exit in P4. So as the cars lined up behind the very slowly circulating Safety Car the order on Lap 33 was: 1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 4.Hamilton, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Alonso, 7.Button, 8.Perez, 9.Sutil, 10.Vergne, 11.Di Resta, 12.Hulkenberg, 13.Ricciardo, 14.Grosjean.

Rosberg thought the Safety Car was going too slow and actually pulled alongside it in a bid to get Bernd Maylander to go faster. The message got through - on Lap 35 it was a 2:05 and on Lap 36 it was a 1:57. The medical car finally left Ste Devote and we were racing again on Lap 39.

After the restart Alonso had a look at Raikkonen into the chicane for P5 and Hamilton was very keen to get past Webber. Both cars in front blocked and no places changed. On Lap 40 Vettel got a depressing message from his engineers, that Rosberg wasn't marginal on tyres and so settled in for the rest of the afternoon, the remaining 38 laps.

Behind him Hamilton made an audacious attempt to get past Webber into Rascasse and saved some KERS for a sprint up the hill from Rascasse to Anthony Noghes. Webber left him room but held the place.

With the Safety Car having closed up the field there were tentative moves in the midfield. Alonso was trying to get past Raikkonen and behind him Button was looking to exploit any loss of momentum from Alonso. Button had a look up the inside of the Ferrari at the Lowes hairpin and bumped the Ferrari's backwheel failing to get past.

Then later that same lap he found Sergio Perez sticking his Mclaren inside into the chicane and the two made contact again. Button had to radio back to see if his wing was okay, while Perez took on his next challenge - passing Alonso.

On Lap 44 Perez tried to dive down the inside of Alonso at the Nouvelle (or tunnel chicane) and forced Alonso to cut the chicane to avoid hitting him. He got onto team radio to point this out. The issue wasn't resolved before Lap 46 when running towards Tabac, Maldonado got blocked by Max Chilton's Marussia and took off hitting the barrier hard, ripping the barrier protector away from its stays and bringing it out across the track (where it was struck by Bianchi).

It was an immediate Red Flag as the circuit was almost blocked - the cars squeezed through the gap that was left and took their places on the grid for the re-start. While the barrier was repaired, it was divined that Alonso would have to give a place up to Perez on the re-start which was scheduled for 15:35.

The cars set off again for a warm-up lap on Lap 47 and we were racing on Lap 48. Again Rosberg managed the re-start well with no challenge from Vettel.

Positions at the end of Lap 48: 1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 4.Hamilton, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Perez, 7.Alonso, 8.Button, 9.Sutil, 10.Vergne, 11.DiResta, 12.Hulkenberg, 13.Ricciardo, 14.Grosjean.

In fact on lap 50, the biggest gap in the field was between Rosberg and Vettel, 1.4 seconds. There was just 7.5 seconds between 1st place and 13th place. Hamilton was again tight on Mark Webber but it was Adrian Sutil who made a cheeky little overtaking move on Button into the Lowe's hairpin on Lap 52 to take P8.

A lap later, Perez tried to do to Raikkonen what he had done to Perez at the chicane and both cars cut the chicane - a move that Alan McNish described as "racing on the absolute limit."

Sutil wasn't finished, though, and on Lap 57 he repeated his crafty hairpin move on Fernando Alonso to grab P7 and demote Alonso to P8. The Mclaren team decided to warn Perez to look in his mirrors after Mirabeau to prevent him becoming Sutil's next victim.

At the front, Rosberg was stretching his lead and had a 3.3 second lead on lap 59 - yet there was still just 13.2 seconds between 1st and 16th place! Bianchi crashed out at Ste Devote on Lap 60 with what looked like a braking issue, the incident covered under waved yellows. However two laps later Romain Grosjean - who'd managed 62 laps without damaging his car - tried an inexpert move on Daniel Ricciardo into the chicane and simply piled into the back of him.

The Lotus ripped the rear wing off the Toro Rosso which was out on the spot as Grosjean limped back to the pits. His fourth accident of the weekend. With carbon fibre debris everywhere there was no option but to bring out another Safety Car to clear up the track.

As the cars circulated behind the Safety Car for the second time, Kimi Raikkonen was informed (on Lap 66) that his car was overheating and losing water. The solution was to get air flowing through the radiators again and mercifully we were racing again by Lap 67.

Perez wasn't finished with racing Raikkonen and tried a move on Lap 69 that didn't come off into the chicane which lost him most of his front wing and gave Raikkonen a puncture. The Lotus driver had moved under braking and squeezed the Mclaren against the barrier. Raikkonen had to head for the pits and rejoined in P14. Meanwhile Button made an even cheekier pass (than Sutil) on Alonso into the Rascasse. Alonso was now down to P8.

Positions on Lap 71: 1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 4.Hamilton, 5.Perez, 6.Sutil, 7.Button, 8.Alonso, 9.Vergne, 10.DiResta, 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Bottas.

On Lap 73 something appeared to be up with Perez's car, he missed the chicane - Sutil passed him at Rascasse, and he looked like he was about to head into the pitlane when Jenson Button came up the inside into Anthony Noghes and so Perez couldn't turn in as his team-mate was blocking the entrance - so he went past and parked the car. His race over.

This now let Alonso into P7, Vergne into P8, DiResta into P9 and Hulkenberg into the points. Behind them Kimi Raikkonen was on a mission on a set of new SuperSoft tyres and was lapping in the 1:17s compared to the 1:21s of the cars in front. While Vergne and DiResta put pressure on Alonso in the last five laps Raikkonen closed the gap to the cars in front and overtook three cars in the last two laps to grab P10!

In front Rosberg came home to a deserved win in front of the two Red Bulls, an unlucky Hamilton and a great drive from Sutil and Button in P5 and P6 respectively. Alonso's P7 was not good but it could have been worse with Vergne (P8) and DiResta (P9) snapping at his heels at the line.

The Mercedes had locked out the front row and hadn't suffered a degradation nightmare on what was a very low-stress circuit for tyres. It will be a completely different situation on the streets of Montreal, but for the time being Rosberg will celebrate a very special hometown win.

FH

Times
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:18.432
02 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +3.8
03 Mark Webber Red Bull +6.3
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +13.8
05 Adrian Sutil Force India +21.4
06 Jenson Button McLaren +23.1
07 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +26.7
08 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +27.2
09 Paul di Resta Force India +27.6
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus +36.5
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +42.5
12 Valtteri Bottas Williams +42.6
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +43.2
14 Max Chilton Marussia +49.8
15 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +62.5
16 Sergio Perez McLaren +6 laps
Did Not Finish
R Romain Grosjean Lotus +15 laps
R Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +17 laps
R Jules Bianchi Marussia +20 laps
R Pastor Maldonado Williams +34 laps
R Felipe Massa Ferrari +50 laps
R Charles Pic Caterham +71 lap

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