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Winners and Losers: Monaco GP

Monday 26th May 2014

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Winners and Losers: Monaco GP

Winners and Losers: Monaco GP

"Monaco is like cycling round your bathroom" is the classic quote. Now try doing it with one eye closed...

Star of the Race

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 9th
A historic day in the tax dodgers' principality. One of the drivers who almost certainly doesn't earn enough to live there, managed to score the first ever points for Marussia. Jules Bianchi had to do some robust overtaking en route to his ninth place, but was able to fend off Jean-Eric Vergne (who nerfed him in the rear wing at the hairpin) for a time and finished in front of a McLaren and a Ferrari. He found a unique place to overtake rival Kamui Kobayashi, lunging up the inside into the Rascasse, then banging wheels three times on the way through. This might be the only two points that either Bianchi or Marussia ever score, so, an event not to go unmarked.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 32, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India on Kevin Magnussen, McLaren for P7
It's always been true of Monaco that you rely on co-operation from the car being overtaken to make a passing move stick. Should the overtaken car at any point decide that they'd like to maintain their normal braking point and the normal turn-in line, then it's tears. This was true of Adrian Sutil's cheeky little dinks into the Loew's/Grand Hotel Hairpin, or Bianchi vs Kobayashi.

Most audacious of all was Hulkenberg versus Magnussen on the first lap after the restart, with Nico shooting up the inside of the McLaren on the short sprint from Bas Mirabeau to Portier. Martin Brundle thought he'd never seen anyone overtake there before, but in 1998 Michael Schumacher had squeezed past Alex Wurz's Benetton there, although that was a carry-on from a move that started through the Loew's hairpin.

Hulkenberg was able to keep Jenson Button at bay despite his fast-degenerating SuperSoft tyres and put some more serious points for Sahara Force India. He must be so glad he didn't get the Lotus drive.

Winners

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1st
Toto Wolff explained the extraordinary sawing motion that Nico Rosberg did at the wheel of his Mercedes on his last lap of Qualifying as the natural reaction a driver would make after braking too late. Yeah, right. Any other explanation would have been a PR disaster for the Mercedes team. On the balance of probabilities, someone else would have made that mistake through Qualifying if it was such a great place to make up time, but, surprise surprise, they didn't. Nobody did it in the race either.

Rosberg didn't look the fastest Mercedes driver around Monaco, but such is the idiocy of the circuit that that never really matters much. He was the leading driver around the circuit and when it came to the pit-stops, they were premeditated by Adrian Sutil's crash, so had to be taken together.

F1 needs the Hamilton vs Rosberg battle to keep on going because it's the biggest show in town in 2014, so for that reason alone it was important for Nico to win.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2nd
Lewis Hamilton knows he really can't complain about a bit of skulduggery from the other side of the garage given that he used a verboten engine setting to win the race in Spain. What he got back in Monaco evened the score. What was probably eating him up more, was that after Barcelona he apologised whereas Rosberg didn't in Monaco. On Saturday he said he was going to deal with the incident "as Senna would". Mercedes weren't sure if that mean clattering into the barrier at Portier then walking home.

If Marussia's first ever points weren't such a defining moment, then Hamilton's defence of P2 with one eye shut was easily worthy of Star of the Race. In fact there were shades of the Monty Python film - The Holy Grail in his team radio messages. In the film, the character the Black Knight keeps getting limbs cut off him in a fight but won't give up. When disabled by having to close one eye around the most exacting F1 circuit on the calendar, where there is the smallest margin of error, Lewis wasn't interested in the gap to the car behind him, he still wanted to know his gap to Rosberg in front who he was never going to catch.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
A poor getaway could have relegated Daniel to P5 for the rest of the afternoon, but Max Chilton sorted Raikkonen out and Renault quality control removed his team-mate.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 4th
For once Fernando was outraced by his team-mate and had a long lonely afternoon, circulating a couple of pit-stops in front of Hulkenberg. Every race he is trying to find new ways of saying, "we are not fast enough".

Jenson Button, McLaren, 6th
Button's quick thinking and early pit-stop after the Adrian Sutil accident didn't give him the advantage it could have, but at least it meant that the team didn't have to double stop him behind Kevin Magnussen. He was the beneficiary of cars disappearing in front of him and his team-mate having an ERS issue.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 7th
Considering Felipe was down in 13th on the opening lap, to finish 7th was not a poor result - and he was right up with the Button vs Hulkenberg fight at the flag. It looked like the Williams team left him out on circuit during the first Safety Car, gambling on another Safety Car to make his second stop. Otherwise it was a bit strange that they left him out there.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 8th
On an afternoon when four other Renault engine units failed to make it to the flag, Romain banked more points for the Enstone team.

Max Chilton, Marussia, 14th
Max has still finished every F1 race he's ever taken part in, the run continues.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 10th
Kevin Magnussen put in a fine qualifying performance and a great opening lap to finish it in P7. He may have got a bit of argy bargy from Raikkonen, but on balance, it's nothing he hasn't meted out to the Ferrari driver already this season.

Helmut Marko, Red BullThe promotion of Dan Ricciardo to the Red Bull Racing team has been one of the decisions of the year. The elevation of Daniil Kvyat above Antonio Felix da Costa another one. For a long time the Red Bull staircase of talent looked like an expensive gentle incline. Now, with Ricciardo outqualifying Vettel 5-1, and with Vergne (for whom Dan was on virtual parity last year) putting his car in the top 10 in Monaco, and Kvyat matching him all the way it looks like the Red Bull organisation have got four very strong drivers. Memories of Alguersuari, Buemi and Bourdais fading fast.

Losers

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, DNF
Vettel got a great start and got the jump on his normally-too-damn-fast team-mate, only to find that reliability let him down. Now he should be able to understand what Mark Webber felt like for all those years.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 12th
Kimi got the most brilliant Monaco start and there's no reason to suppose that he couldn't have hung on to P3 till the end of the race. That is until Max Chilton inexpertly unlapped himself during the Safety Car period and gave Raikkonen a puncture. Even after the calamity of a second pit-stop Kimi was making good progress back through the field and was up to P8 when he made a poor overtaking move on Magnussen, carrying too much speed into Loews and taking them both into the barrier.

Sauber, DNF
Sauber are now in the invidious position of lagging behind Marussia in the Constructors' table and may stay there for a few races to come.

Media Watch
Martin Brundle: "Being in the pit-stop window doesn't mean you have to jump through that window."

Eddie Jordan: Talking about Kimi Raikkonen's overtaking move - "You can see he's getting very bravado."

Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish: "He's adjusting some adjustments on his steering wheel."

Andrew Davies

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