It was nerve-wrackingly processional, but at least we got six out of six.
Star of the RaceMark Webber, Red Bull, 1st
As Mark said tellingly after the race, "this is the weakest car we've won with." Red Bull's third victory in a row was its closest, and for some, its most welcome. Brazil last year was a bit of a gimme for Mark, this win he sweated out. "Emotionally its worth double but the points are still the same." Montreal can't come fast enough.
Overtaking Move of the Race
Back to the bad old days of Monaco. On the weekend of the Eurovision Song Contest it was nil pointesfor our friends from Monte Carlo. To show how dire this race was in terms of giving us overtaking, Sergio Perez was able to record the fastest lap by a mile, a 1:17.296 compared to the front runners' best of 1:18s, and still struggled to pass a Marussia going into the Turn 14 chicane.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
Nico was faster than Webbo in the race but (as with all things in Monaco) position is everything. He was putting in some fast laps when he was called into the pits earlier than most expected. Presumably the team thought they might be able to jump Red Bull if they got the undercut and it was certainly a great space that Kimi Raikkonen had provided for the top six runners to emerge into. It didn't work out. However 'Fastest Car Doesn't Win Monaco' isn't that much of a shocking headline - ask the driver steward.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 3rd
He's a crafty beggar that Fernando. For 16 laps he sold Lewis Hamilton the dummy that he was sliding away from the lead, dropping to 4.2 seconds behind the Brit on Lap 16, one of the biggest defecits at that stage of the race. He was simply running in clear air and keeping his tyres ready for the big sprint. We should have known something was up because Felipe Massa was so close. Then on Lap 17 the plan began to be revealed when he suddenly set the fastest middle sector of anyone. Previously he'd lost 0.5 and 0.6 to Lewis in that sector (all without backmarkers) so the car wasn't lacking. Then he closed the gap to 3.6, 2.9 with a quick burst of fastest laps. On Lap 28 he was just 0.1 behind after which Lewis pitted. Luckily for Fernando there were no Marussias around to spoil this plan. A great tactical move from Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 4th
Sebastian Vettel was a lucky lucky boy last season. He didn't need it to win the Championship, that was his by dint of sheer brilliance, but whenever things could go right for him in 2011 they did. He got more of the same in Monaco with a gift of sixth place following Romain Grosjean's careless start. Staring at the revolving Lotus the pitlane escape route beckoned and he took it. Had Grosjean not swerved violently into Michael Schumacher, Seb would have been behind Raikkonen, Grosjean and Schumacher. What's more, he would have lost time behind Kimi as the Finn's tyres faded. Because we know FOR CERTAIN that he wouldn't have been able to get past him. Thus his first sight of an open road would have been on Lap 29, the gap in front of Kimi into which Messrs Webber to Schumacher would have already re-emerged. He was probably staring at 8th or 9th if Romain had not become the runaway leader of Planet-F1's bash.log (coming back next week - thanks to everyone who contributed to the first one)
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 5th
To give you an idea of how boring the race was, someone on the pitwall started acting like a teenager who didn't want to sit through double Maths and started flicking numbers off their pitboard at Lewis as he came past. Hamilton complained about his poor launch, but Mark's timing away from the line was great (for once) and Rosberg too, so there wasn't much of an opportunity to steal a place into Ste Devote.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 6th
Felipe had wanted this to be his comeback performance and there was cause for great optimism in Monaco. Rob Smedley thought he could maybe have qualified higher than he did, but at least he was back in Q3 again, not struggling to get into Q2. It was noticeable that when it got slippy with more rain on track towards the end of the race that he fell off the back of Lewis Hamilton, but otherwise a great drive. And good to see.
Force India, 7th and 8th
It was worth Vijay bringing the yacht then - that'll keep Paul and Nico in premium Indian lager for a while.
Kimi Raikkonen, 9th
We're certain he'll have been disappointed, cven if we didn't get to hear the interview.
Bruno Senna, Williams, 10th
A fitting reward for the Herculean effort put in by Williams, and all the other teams who loaned them equipment up and down the pilane.Losers
Pirelli were Bridgestone in disguise for this race. They produced race rubber so durable that a one-stopper was easily achievable by the entire field. That might have been helped by the Safety Car's emergence after the first lap debris, but a Safety Car isn't exactly a novelty in Monaco. It looked to us like Pirelli were playing it safe in front of the big clients. With so much corporate schmoozing going on at Monaco they didn't want their rubber disintegrating quickly and undermining the product in front of the biggest audience of the season. In Canada next race, it won't be a problem, but not at Monaco. So then F1 was stuck with a circuit that doesn't work and with a god who would only deliver significant amounts of rainfall once the race had ended. If Pirelli can't be relied on to supply the specification of tyre wear rate that they agreed then the Monaco Grand Prix organisers are going to have to make far more radical changes to the circuit than moving Sergio Perez's barrier back by 15 metres.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus, DNF
Yet more contact at the start of the race. Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are heading to the top of the bash.log table.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, DNF
This was like Tom Watson almost winning The Open golf championship in 2009. Schumi's Saturday pole position rolled back the years and made many old German motorsport fans misty eyed. You would have to be pretty hard-hearted not to feel sympathy for The Schum having to take the grid deduction but as he said, "I don't worry about things I can't change." He obviously thought Romain Grosjean should have had some kind of penalty for doing-a-Derek-Daly into Ste Devote, though this time it was Kobayashi who did the aerial stuff and not Derek.
Lewis Hamilton was slung to the back of the grid in Barcelona because of a small breach of a technical regulation. One of the technical regulations that Ferrari and McLaren are not sure that Red Bull comply with is having a hole in their floor. The technical regulation say that floors must be "impervious" i.e. water can't pass through it. It's a hole and although the god-like genius that is Adrian Newey can do many things, stopping water from flowing through a hole in an F1 floor is probably going to be beyond him. So how can that regulation possibly stand up, because Red Bull maintain that Charlie Whiting has passed it...?
Jenson Button, McLaren, DNF
Jenson was astute enough to blame his own poor qualifying that put him back amongst the crazy fools of the mid-grid rather than have a go at his fellow drivers. Jenson's ill fortune doesn't seem to be depressing Lewis one little bit.
Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 12th
There was much made about JEV making a points-losing pit stop late on, but his times had already started dropping off. He didn't look capable of making a set of tyres last from Lap 17 to Lap 78 and he was only looking at picking up 10th if he'd fitted Options when he came in instead of Inters). So the Toro Ross team gambled with their one point and lost. How Monaco is that.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams, DNF
He got his metaphorical licence docked in a very public fashion after driving into Perez at Portiers in FP3. Last time he deliberately collided with Lewis Hamilton at Spa (in 2011), the leniency of the penalty was breathtaking. This time he got what was coming to him
There have been some bold stewarding decisions at Monaco in the past, none more so that Michael Schumacher's elimination from qualifying when he deliberately parked his Ferrari at Rascasse the moment he knew he was on pole. This race driver steward Nigel Mansell must have been heavily involved in handing out the 10-grid-place penalty to Pastor Maldonado for deliberately bumping Sergio Perez in FP3. Only Nigel would have had the experience to be certain that Maldonado was aiming for some unnecessary contact with Perez.
But elsewhere there were mystifying examples of the application of the rules. Why wasn't Pedro de la Rosa demoted for blatantly impeding Charles Pic at the start of Q1? If Michael Schumacher can get a penalty for driving into the back of Bruno Senna in Spain, what about Maldonado taking Pedro de la Rosa's rear wing off? And Romain Grosjean must face some form of sanction for bumping Alonso, then Schumacher, and spinning to bump Kobayashi. In Spain he hit Perez at the start and ruined his race and then collided with Bruno Senna later on. That's five contacts in two races. Michael's penalty from Spain was like many of the ones handed out to Lewis Hamilton last season, so not particularly unfair given what Lewis has had to put up with, but then he has to watch other drivers get away with far worse.
Damon Hill: "I will eat my microphone if Hamilton doesn't get pole position and win the race"
Damon Hill: 15 minutes before Q1- "I just want to clarify; I was talking only about the foam bit. I'm not eating the metal"
Sky's Simon Lazenby: "Johnny, sum up the Monaco Grand Prix in three words"
Johnny Herbert: "It's JUST an AWESOME WEEKEND"
Ron Dennis: "You've got to win to win"
David Croft: "Lewis Hamilton, like some very keen police dog, is sniffing all over the back of Vettel."
Eddie Jordan:"You see. Look, he's a pillar of example."
David Coulthard: (Said with exactly the same kind of deadpan that he delivered "It's hard to make rubber exciting" last season.) Speaking to Mark Webber after the race: "Number twos are always more satisfying aren't they..."
(Quote wrangling by Frank Cook and firstname.lastname@example.org)