Rosberg shows he's the street fighting man - Monaco GP review

By on Sunday, May 25, 2014
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The criticisms levelled at the Monaco Grand Prix is that it’s simply a long party with a terribly boring, processional race thrown in for two hours on Sunday afternoon. Such assertions were proved completely wrong in 2014 as the Monte Carlo street circuit played host to a thrilling and chaotic race as Nico Rosberg snatched back the advantage over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who spent much of the weekend in a downbeat mood.

Relations between the two Mercedes drivers prior to the race were cool at best. Following Rosberg’s acquisition of pole position, the German was investigated for running wide at Mirabeau – and whether he did it deliberately to bring out the yellow flags and ruin the laps of other drivers. Rosberg was deemed to be innocent, but several pundits raised their doubts – Hamilton never implied that Rosberg had done it deliberately, but his demeanour was not one of a driver in full belief of his team-mate’s comments.

Hamilton hinted that he would consider taking a leaf out of Ayrton Senna’s book – a remark which did not travel well with the FIA. In the end the duo both made a decent start which left Rosberg with the advantage out of Sainte Devote, with Hamilton all over the back of the sister Mercedes.

Third-placed Daniel Ricciardo bogged down and found himself usurped by Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, as well as the fast-starting Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen. Fernando Alonso slipped to sixth as he too suffered as the lights went out.

The field negotiated the first corner without strife but down into Mirabeau it was Sergio Pérez who came to grief. The Mexican collided with Jenson Button and his Force India bounced into the exit barriers, truncating his race after just a single sector.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The safety car was deployed to clear up the stricken VJM07 and upon the restart it was Sebastian Vettel’s turn to hit problems. His Red Bull RB10 slowed and he dropped to the back of the field – he urged Red Bull to alleviate his Power Unit problems but it was to no avail and he exited stage right.

Rosberg continued to lead Hamilton while behind them, Räikkönen, Ricciardo and Alonso all drifted away from each other as the laps progressed.

Much of the initial excitement was caused by Sauber’s Adrian Sutil. The German started on the prime tyres but switched to options behind the safety car and had to find his way through slower rivals. Sutil picked off Romain Grosjean with a ballsy move at the hairpin - the duo had come to blows on the first lap, resulting in a puncture for the latter - and executed the same move on Marcus Ericsson, before slipping up the inside of Max Chilton into the Nouvelle Chicane.

All weekend the Sauber C33 had looked like a difficult beast to control and Sutil duly summed up such thoughts when he lost control under braking for the chicane and took the front from the car. With debris littering the circuit, the safety car was called into action for a second time.

Rosberg and Hamilton pitted line astern – their advantage so great that they emerged comfortably at the head of the field. The Brit felt aggrieved that he was unable to pit earlier, but in reality he stopped at the best time and simply had to play second fiddle to Rosberg.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

The pit stop phase did cause some drama, though. Jean-Éric Vergne was released into the path of Kevin Magnussen, while Räikkönen was hit by one of the Marussias and had to pit again for another set of fresh tyres, sending him tumbling down the order. Felipe Massa, who started from a lowly 16th, was the only driver not to pit and he soon shot into the top 10.

Even before the restart a keen Magnussen went up the inside of Vergne but wisely conceded the position a lap later – and in doing so allowed Nico Hülkenberg through. Vergne had excelled all weekend and it was to be expected – the low grip nature of the street circuit perfectly suits the Frenchman’s style but in typical 2014 form it was not to be. Vergne was duly given a drive through penalty for Toro Rosso’s unsafe release and his engine failed later in the race. It was another cruel blow for a driver who has vastly improved this season.

Up front Hamilton began to slip back from Rosberg and claimed that he had something in his eye. Behind him, third placed Ricciardo carved into the gap and across the final laps was hustling the back of the Mercedes. Ultimately he had to settle for third place, but it was nonetheless another strong result from one of the stars of the season.

Fourth place went to a lonely Alonso, who profited from problems hitting others to finish 32 seconds behind Rosberg. It was a quiet race from the Spaniard who occupied no man’s land for much of the 78 lap encounter.

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Fifth place went to Force India’s Hülkenberg, who was typically quick and controlled in equal measure as he continued his run of finishing in the points. Such was Mercedes’s speed that Hülkenberg was actually the first of the lapped cars and he ended just a couple of tenths ahead of Jenson Button and Massa, who did well to recover after Saturday’s woes.

Behind the leading seven, there was borderline mayhem.

Astonishingly, it was Jules Bianchi who finished the race in eighth place to claim Marussia’s long overdue first points in Formula 1. He stayed out of trouble and executed an audacious but brilliant move on Caterham rival Kamui Kobayashi into La Rascasse and then simply benefited from the misfortune of others. It was a supreme drive from Ferrari’s young talent and well deserved.

But in the end he slipped to ninth after stewards deemed that he served a five second stop and go penalty behind the safety car – not that the Marussia boys and girls cared too much afterwards!

Eighth place in the end went to Grosjean, who scored points despite a fairly low-key weekend, while Bianchi dropped to ninth.

In reality, the lower paying points positions could have gone to anyone in the field.

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

Räikkönen’s recovery was fairly scrappy but the Finn was set for eighth place until he dived up the inside of Magnussen at the hairpin towards the end of the race. Räikkönen and Magnussen both slid into the barriers and while they could continue it was nonetheless a disappointing end for both. The McLaren driver recovered to tenth, although he warranted more after a strong weekend.

The position also could have gone to Sauber’s Esteban Gutiérrez. The Mexican hustled Williams’s Valtteri Bottas and made his rival cut the chicane when he dived up the inside. Bottas’s engine promptly failed, which elevated Gutiérrez to eighth, but the amiable Sauber racer made a critical error as he clipped the inside barrier at La Rascasse and caused terminal damage to his car. It was a costly mistake as with Marussia scoring points, it dropped Sauber down to 10th in the championship.

Another man who could have scored that eighth place was Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. The Russian excelled on his Monaco debut but began losing time and was forced to retire early on in the race.

So what of the others? Marcus Ericsson recovered from his Saturday faux pas to equal Caterham’s best result in 11th – but with Marussia beating them to the honour of being the first of the duo to score points, it was a bittersweet day for the team, who also had Kobayashi in 13th. The Japanese driver fared well during the first half of the race but sustained damage following the collision with Bianchi.

Räikkönen was 12th, while Max Chilton at least continued his finishing record in 14th. Pastor Maldonado had failed to finish his first three Monaco Grands Prix but he was unable to begin his fourth as his Lotus E22 packed up on the formation lap due to a fuel supply issue.

At the head of the pack there were no such issues for Rosberg as he completed back-to-back wins at his home event, with a morose Hamilton holding off Ricciardo for second.

The win means Rosberg snatches back the lead of the championship by four points, with Mercedes still light years ahead of their rivals. The question now is how Hamilton responds, and whether the relationship between the duo can ever be the same again.

16Nico RosbergMercedesWinner125
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes+9.2 secs218
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault+9.6 secs315
414Fernando AlonsoFerrari+32.4 secs512
527Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes+1 Lap1110
622Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes+1 Lap128
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes+1 Lap166
88Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault+1 Lap144
917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari+1 Lap212
1020Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes+1 Lap81
119Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault+1 Lap22
127Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+1 Lap6
1310Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault+3 Lap20
144Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari+3 Lap19
Ret21Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari+19 Lap17
Ret77Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes+23 Laps13
Ret25Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault+28 Laps7
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari+55 Laps18
Ret26Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault+68 Laps9
Ret1Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault+73 Laps4
Ret11Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes+ 78 Laps10
Ret13Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault+ 78 Laps15
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas


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