Back in the principality for the ultimate street race. But I just can’t figure out if this is an anticipated race or not. The challenge and skill needed to drive a good race here is immense. But the problem with that is that it’s hard to transfer this fact to the spectators. So Monaco does often become a procession of cars as far as the onlooker is concerned. Spiced with the inevitable crash and safety car.
This year had crashes, some action and an even more processed procession than usual.
Sometimes in Monaco, the qualifying is the most exciting bit as the outcome of the race is already decided there. Mercedes were expected to shine and shine they did. Rosberg in particular. He managed to top all practice sessions and came good in the dry/wet qualifying as well to take his 3rd pole position in a row. The gains Mercedes have made since 2012 is redonkulous.
On the other end of the scale we find crash master Grosjean who managed to mangle his car in not one, not two but all 3 practice sessions. Hello! The team only just got his car ready for qualifying where he had to make due with 13th. Kimi did much better, but not quite good enough for Monaco. 5th was all that was in the Lotus on Saturday. Both Bulls and Mercs ahead of him. Still, with a 1-stop very possible for the E21, perhaps there could be a podium in the cards.
Rosberg gets a horrible start but still keeps the lead thanks to the nature of Monaco. Had it been China, he would have been 3rd or 4th at turn 1. Kimi manages to keep Alonso behind him – also thanks to Monaco and the short run to turn 1. By some miracle, Grosjean makes it through the first corner and lap without incident. (That I know of). Alonso is feisty behind Kimi but cannot find a way through. Say what you will about Alonso, but the man knows the limits of Monaco and is very fair on the race track.
After a while the cars settle in somewhat. And I say somewhat because it quickly comes abundantly clear that one place the fickle Pirelli rubber doesn’t fit – is Monaco. It’s gets almost comical as you see the Mercedes cars conserving their tires and the cars behind having a lot more pace in hand, frantically trying to find a way to pass the car in front. Result, we get botches of car trains behind cars that are preserving tire life. So the field is a lot more bunched up than usual. This is sending chain effects down the order. Where faster cars that are nudging against the car in front are making themselves a target for an attack from the car behind.
Sidenote: It’s a sad sad sight to see the leader of the GP just slouching lazily through the swimming pool chicane. No drama or push. Just taking it as easy as possible. I think back to 2006. Alonso is leading the race and Kimi is right on his heels, chasing him down. And they both went through the same chicane at such speed that it took your breath away. Although the tires give some interesting races, the spectacle of the speed in Monaco is gone with the current rubber.
Pitstops happen and Kimi pits on lap 27, around the same time as the others and a lot earlier than I had thought. Its a good quick stop from Lotus. Alonso pits 2 laps later and is very close to jumping Kimi even though Kimi had the upper hand with the earlier stop. Possibly traffic on his out lap. But he stays ahead of the red car.
The next red car we see is the Ferrari of Massa in the barrier at Sainte Devote. An exact replica of his practice crash!
The crash in practice was down to driver error but Ferrari was adamant that the second one – although a complete copy of the first crash – was down to a car error. Let’s just say that I take everything coming out of the red camp with a grain of salt. Thankfully Massa is okay. But it may be time for him to hang up his helmet. Give Kobayashi the seat instead: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/107732
Red Bull is quick to react and pits Sebastian just before the safety car comes out. With both Mercs unpitted, it could prove disastrous for them. They cannot drive faster than the pace time set for the SC period. What happens is that Hamilton drops back a pit to avoid a queue in the pitlane. However, that gap was enough for Vettel and Webber to jump Hamilton up to 2nd and 3rd place.
The restarts are not kind to the Lotus car. Being gentle on the tires usually means taking a bit more time in getting the pressure and temperature up to snuff. Alonso tries to take advantage, but sees that Raikkonen has got him covered at the hairpin and the chicane. Alonsos attempts leaves him vulnerable to Button who has a little go at the hairpin and nudges Alonsos rear wheel with his front wing. By some black magic or voodoo, Alonso avoids a puncture and keeps going.
The first real victim of this previously mentioned “bunching up” is Button. Perez practically does a hailmary on the inside of the Brit at the chicane, hoping he will yield. Button being the gentleman he is and probably more so because it’s the sister car, lets Perez have the pass. A good move but probably only made possible due to Button knowing the importance of bringing both cars home. Unfortunately this sets off something in Perez’ head.
Thinking that “this will be equally as easy with every other car. Because I am just that good.” But he wasn’t.
Next one in his sights is Alonso. He dives on the inside, hoping Alonso will be just as polite as Button. The Ferrari has to move out of the way to avoid contact. The stewards felt that was wrong and later ruled that Alonso had to let Perez pass. Which was the worst possible ruling in this case. Because it gave Perez a green light in his mind to keep doing the exact same move on everyone in front of him. I like seeing Alonso get passed as much as the next guy. But this was just wrong in my opinion. Sure, Perez had the inside and he made the turn. But the pass was not 100% complete. And it just nursed the wrong ego at the time and it could only end in tears..
Not much time to ponder on that before the race is downright red flagged. Grosjean? No? Ah. Maldonado. No need to explain. (I know Chilton was given the blame) Watch it again: http://youtu.be/v8kRxpge9fI
As it stands, Maldonado has not finished a single Monaco race in his F1 career. Well, the red flag gives everyone the opportunity to change tires and with that any chance of Kimi doing one less stop than his rivals is gone.
The race restarts behind the safety car and Alonso gives the place to Perez. Which means we have one loco red misted Mexican behind Kimi. Sutil does a succesful move on Jenson Button in the hairpin. Well executed. Sutil now trails Alonso.
What was not succesful was the Perez attempt on Kimi in the chicane after the tunnel. He does an insane dive, hopes Kimi gives way and overshoots completely. Forcing Kimi to take evasive action across the kerbs as well. And he was understandably not happy about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjLTmrCIeHg
Sutil gets it completely right again in the hairpin against Alonso and stabs 7th position in the neck. A cheeky move which paid off. Another result and effect of a car in front (in this case, Vettel) bunching everyone up while saving tires.
Next up we witness Romain Grosjean losing the very last ounce he had left of his mind as he tries to have surprise buttsecks with a Toro Rosso out of the tunnel:
The Toro Rosso is shy and fends him off, leaving carbon-fibre carnage strewn all over the chicane. The cost of spare parts that Grosjean has destroyed in Monaco alone, is now equivalent to the national product of Burkina Faso. Not good for a team that suffered a big financial loss in 2012. Boullier, wake up and smell the fromage. He is supposed to help Kimi, not work against him!
Yaaay, its the safety car again. Another silver Mercedes is leading the race. The 6 seconds lead that Rosberg had is wiped out. And Sergio Perez will have even more time to plot his madness. And sure enough, after the race was on again, the Mexican tries some idiotic half-brained banzai move on the inside of Kimi. The Lotus has defended that line by position ever since the SC went in. But does that deter Checo? Nope. He is not even alongside his
rearwheel when there is contact. He did not have the line or the position or anything that even remotely would give a sane person a reason to try a pass. The little #¤%& even has the audacity to lift his hand after the tangle. Not to mention putting the blame on Raikkonen after the race.
No Alonso-luck for Kimi as he has a puncture from his tire being raped by a McLaren front wing. He bunches everyone up and Button seizes the moment and gets past Alonso in the confusion. Well, we had a good run of 22 consecutive point scoring finishes. Only 2 more would have equalled the record. By the way, this is the second time Perez has been an idiot around Raikkonen in Monaco. Here is what he did last year from not going into the pits in a normal fashion: http://youtu.be/wBBcwK08Cew
Ok, new tires for Kimi. There is 7 laps to go and he is dead last in 16th, almost 10 seconds up to the car in 15th place. I start to drift and just wait for the race to be over. But what I forgot to count on was an angry Kimi shooting out of the pitlane with a vengeance. What the cameras didn’t show at the time was a display of brilliance and controlled rage. Icy cool rage. Showing all the pathetic pay drivers how things are done. Not by hail marys, banzai moves or surprise buttsecks. But by a well harnessed anger behind those marine blue eyes, converted into faultlessly executed overtaking. Here is a couple:
And with that he is suddenly and literally unbelievably in the points again. From 16th to 10th in 7 laps. 5 passes since Perez retired. Granted on fresh tires, but this is Monaco! Not a Tilke drome with a 4 lane highway track. Kimi on the Hunt. We need more of that anger in Canada but without him losing places. Yeah. That’d be great.
Here is a closer look at that last pass on Hulkenberg: http://youtu.be/XgXH4xehX_o
He hits the limiter way before he is even past him but he is so determined and brakes so late to just make it stick on the outside. Incredible. I like the fact that the BBC commentators were so puzzled to see Kimi in 10th at the end that they were adamant there had been an incident. Lol. Yea, there was. The Iceman unleashed.
Rosberg crosses the line and deservedly wins the Monaco GP. Not a foot wrong all weekend. Very impressive. If they get a handle on the tire wear, then they will be a contender. What cast a bit of a shadow on the entire weekend for Mercedes was the 1000 km tire testing being done by the team after Barcelona: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/107671
So Red Bull and Ferrari have lodged a complaint as the rules state that all teams must be offered a chance to do the test as well. Which they were not:
So it is still unknown what the outcome of the controversy will be. But Rosbergs win is safe. The FIA have made the results official.
As for Kimi he keeps his record streak going. But what is worse is that he lost important ground to his rivals that he didn’t have to. If not for a halfwitted numbscull. Kimi suggested that someone may have to slap a bitch to make him learn. And perhaps he is right. Bitch slap suggestion here: http://goo.gl/ox7AS
My Race Rating is a 7 out of 10. 2 extra points gained only due to Kimis display of awesomeness in the end. I would have been happier with a 5th place though. But its all to play for in Canada. The track is typically tough on tires so lets hope it will play into the hands of the E21 and the tire whisperer.
Take care now, folks.
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