Nico Rosberg took his third consecutive win at the Monaco circuit this weekend as some downright stupid strategy robbed Lewis Hamilton of his first Mercedes win at the track.
Monaco is a known risky circuit, and one mistake can bring a car straight into the barrier. The roads are narrow and concentration is key throughout the race. Monaco is prestigious and a win here is desired by any driver.
For the Mercedes pair it was all to play for, Rosberg victorious at the last two Monaco races, having also clinched the most recent win in Barcelona. The German seemed on fire all weekend, but after locking up in the final qualifying session he lost out to his team-mate, the Brit having only recently signed a three-year deal with Mercedes allegedly worth £100 million.
Just signed my new deal, 3 more years… (Go to my instagram for my full message) pic.twitter.com/jqHegGzhma
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) May 20, 2015
Hamilton got off to a slower start than Rosberg but pole position gave him the edge and he was soon flying around the track. At just 2 miles long Monaco is the shortest circuit on the F1 calendar, notoriously difficult for overtaking.
Within the first few corners there was a collision between the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard was given a 5 second penalty and later retired from the race with electrical issues, the same that had plagued him throughout qualifying.
McLaren have won 15 times around the circuit but their new relationship with Honda has brought no rewards. Jenson Button had a relatively quiet race but gained his first points of the season, crossing the line in 8th position.
First points of the season for us with Jenson! Impressive the progress of the team so far! A lot to do, but very proud! #StepByStep
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) May 24, 2015
Williams were the sob story of the weekend, Valtteri Bottas starting the race down in 16th. Felipe Massa got a puncture on the first lap and was left floundering after heading into the pits for a tyre and front wing change. At one point Bottas made it up into 11th with points nearly in his grasp but he eventually finished 14th with Massa behind in 15th.
Massa: The pitstop I had to make on Lap 1 after contact at Turn 1 put me at the back & I spent the race looking out for blue flags #MonacoGP
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) May 24, 2015
It was a good day at the office for Red Bull who qualified 4th and 5th and weren’t hindered by their Renault engine. Daniil Kvyat had a great race, finishing ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
It was another brave and inspired drive from Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen who worked his way expertly up the grid. Following Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel he overtook team-mate Carlos Sainz and Bottas but was then stuck behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) May 24, 2015
As Verstappen attempted to overtake Grosjean the Frenchman braked early and the Toro Rosso was left embedded into the barrier. The safety car was released and this led to the Mercedes drama as Hamilton’s team called him into the pits for a tyre change.
As Hamilton re-joined the circuit he was behind Rosberg and Vettel, now firmly in third place. As the safety car pulled in, and with only seven laps left of the race, Rosberg shot off, going on to win in Monaco once again.
Hamilton tried to overtake Vettel but there was little opportunity. Over at Red Bull Kvyat moved over for Ricciardo but the Australian was told that if he didn’t overtake Hamilton for a podium finish he must give up his fourth for the young Russian, a strong example of how teamwork should work.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) May 24, 2015
Vettel took second with the dejected Hamilton in third. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, Button, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Sainz, who rounded out the top ten after starting from the pit lane.
Mercedes had a mixed reaction to the end of the race as Rosberg celebrated what he described as a ‘lucky’ win, ever the sportsman, stating that his team-mate had ‘deserved’ the win. Hamilton’s team no doubt utterly compromised his win and Mercedes have since apologised for this. But no amount of sorry will replace the points in the championship that Hamilton stood to gain but has now lost.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 24, 2015
Hamilton still leads the championship but now only ten points separate him and Rosberg. Formula 1 heads to Canada in a fortnight where Ricciardo won last year. Rosberg will be looking for his third consecutive win of the season whilst Hamilton will be pulling out all of the stops. But can he get his mojo back after today’s disaster?
What did you make of Monaco? Leave your comments below.