The mood at Monaco was perfect for racing with the ambient track temperature at 31 degrees and the sun tanning the heat-seekers in the harbour. Aussie Mark Webber drove a steady and controlled race from the front to take his second Monaco victory. He was followed home by Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso under less than a second. Sebastian Vettel held off Lewis Hamilton who in turn held the Ferrari of Felipe Massa back in sixth place - the Brazilian’s best finish this season.
At the start, it was chaos as the top three took-off strongly but behind them Romain Grosjean found himself squeezed by Alonso onto Schumacher, which led to a spin and retirement ultimately for the young Frenchman in his Lotus Renault. The promising Schumacher slid back to P8.
This incident saw cars taking avoiding action with the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi even airborne momentarily. Fernando Alonso, after another afternoon of epic performance, found himself heading the championship table from the Red Bull drivers who are locked with equal points in second.
With yellow flags out and a safety car called in, Hamilton found time to complain to his team on the radio about his faulty traction control off the start line. Lap 4 saw Massa hound down Alonso. This was the first time he was anywhere close to his teammate during the races this season.
By Lap 12, Webber began to break away and express his intentions to the chasing pack with a fastest lap. On lap 26 all the cars on super soft options were seen to struggle for grip. Kimi was the biggest struggler as he held up a pack of almost five cars behind him. Alonso carried on for a further five laps before he pitted from the lead. On lap 33 Sebastian Vettel was leading. While all the front runners had stopped once, he was yet to pit. Could he win with a one stop strategy? In theory he could.
He had a cushion of about 16 seconds over second placed Mark Webber. If Webber could hold up the rest of the field, Vettel could indeed come out in the lead after his only pit stop. But the Aussie had plans of his own.
Lap 41 and the race order was restored to Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Schumacher, Vergne, Di Resta and Hulkenberg. The Force Indias were strong today and did well to finish in the points at the chequered flag.
As Vettel pitted for his run on super softs all signs of rain disappeared. Meanwhile, at the back of the field a flying Sauber saw Perez post a fastest lap. In Monaco, position is critical. Although Perez was faster than cars ahead of him he was stuck in the back for most of the race.
Behind the leading pair of Webber and Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Massa were involved in a thrilling scrap with each barely a second off the other. Michael Schumacher complained over the radio that he was losing power. The team asked him to drive on in the hope that the AMG Mercedes would sort itself out. But the star of Saturday’s qualifying soon slowed down to allow first Vergne and later Hulkenberg and Di Resta to go past. He then drove back into his pit garage registering another DNF. He has two points to his name this season. A real shame as it does not reflect the efforts he’s put in.
Lap 70 and a superfast train of cars led the Monaco Grand Prix. Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Massa were all within 6 seconds and were literally driving nose to tail. The world awaited a single slip from any of them to cause some change in results. But it was never to be.
Torro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne decided to break the monotony by going out in an all-out gamble with intermediate tyres on. That was a risk worth taking even though nothing really happened. Maybe Red Bull had instructed their ‘B’ team to experiment in case it did rain.
Lap 71 and Jenson Button’s woeful Monaco weekend came to an end with a spin just after the exit at the swimming pool bends. He was involved in a race-long battle with the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen, but ultimately walked home to his pit garage.
Final lap, and the sixth new winner of the season just held it together in front of the Royal family and celebrities who turned out for this traditional race. Yesterday, Mark Webber said, belonged to Michael. Today, was definitely his.