On a track where passing comes at a premium and qualifying takes on added significance, winning the Monaco Grand Prix was four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel, in what was the 75th Monaco Grand Prix Sunday.
It was the 45th career Formula One victory for the Scuderia Ferrari driver, his third of the season and his second at Monaco. Vettel’s margin of victory was 3.145 seconds over teammate Kimi Räikkönen and it significantly bolstered his lead in the championship standings. Vettel came into Monaco with a six-point lead over Hamilton and leaves with a 25-point margin.
The Scuderia Ferrari team started 1st and 2nd on the grid and finished the same, however a longer stint on tyres, led to Vettel taking the lead over team mate Raikkonen who pitted earlier whilst leading the race. The Ferrari’s were never really under any threat, Bottas who started third in the Mercedes AMG never really found the comfort zone in his car so wasn’t able to attack the Ferrari’s as was hoped by his team, meanwhile team mate and title contender Lewis Hamilton had started in 13th place, was reasonably happy to finish in the points in 6th place, conceding it was damage limitation after a weekend he will be glad to put behind him.
It was the Red Bull team who looked the most likely to cause any kind of threat to the Ferrari’s, both Verstappen and Ricciardo seemed comfortable around the tight street circuit, with Ricciardo leap frogging Bottas during the pit stop window to take 3rd on the podium.
Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen scored the American outfit’s first double-points result on the streets of Monaco, the duo finished eighth and 10th, respectively, in the sixth round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship after earning strong starting spots in qualifying on Saturday.
The race was held up for a few laps near the end after German driver Pascal Wehrlein crashed near the tunnel.
British driver Jenson Button appeared to cause the clash, edging his McLaren too close to Wehrlein’s Sauber as they turned toward the tunnel entry. The nose of Button’s car flipped Wehrlein’s car onto its side and up against the barrier. The German driver appeared unharmed and jumped out moments later. With the drivers trundling behind the safety car, Marcus Ericsson somehow crashed his Sauber and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne imitated him moments later. The safety car came out again briefly with a handful of laps to go after Russian Daniil Kvyat became the latest to lose control of his car in a frantic finish to the race.
Following the Button incident, all the cars seemed to struggle with tyres that wouldn’t come up to temperature quickly enough, the pursuers of the two dominant Ferraris all struggling to generate tyre temperature behind the safety car. “My tyres were like concrete,” said Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who attempted a series of burn-outs to keep them warm.
It was testament to the quality of the Australian’s drive that he still managed to finish third, especially given how he crashed immediately after the restart. “I went straight into the barriers at turn one. Yeah, not fun.”
If it was elation for Sebastian Vettel winning for a second time at Monaco, it was clear disappointment for Kimi Raikkonen, the ice man clearly living up to his name as he stood on the podium, almost seeming reluctant to spray the champagne as the drivers celebrated. Sebastian did have some sympathy for his team mate “I can understand that Kimi is not happy,” Vettel said. “I would feel 100 per cent the same.”
Kimi made no bones about his feelings, if not directly accusing his Italian employees of team orders, “It doesn’t feel awful good,” Raikkonen said, morosely. “It didn’t work out for me, that’s about as much as I can say right now. I got the bad end of the story. It’s still second place but it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.”
Under pristine blue skies on the Riviera, the Prancing Horse has rarely looked so magnificent. Not only was this Ferrari’s first Monte Carlo triumph since 2001, when Michael Schumacher streaked over a distant horizon, but their first one-two finish for seven years. No wonder Vettel, reacquainted with a winning sensation that became so routine during his four years of supremacy at Red Bull, could hardly stop smiling. While 2016 passed off without a single victory, this season, a mere six races old, has yielded three to make him an outstanding favourite to join Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time champion.