LIKE FATHER LIKE SON- NICO ROSBERG WINS AN ACTION PACKED MONACO GRAND PRIX

27 May

The Michael Report- FORMULA ONE GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2013

IT HAS been thirty years to the very day that Nico Rosberg’s father, Keke, won his only Monaco Grand Prix, and today his son delivered a well deserved victory, manoeuvring the tight and twisting streets of the tiny Principality for seventy eight laps to win in spectacular style.

The narrow roads of Monaco are a definite challenge for any driver, let alone for the drivers of ultra- fast Formula One cars, and if a driver makes one mistake, then they are duly punished with a trip into the barriers- to win in Monaco requires a sublime balance between speed, skill and a little dose of luck on your side, and the historic street circuit claimed six cars in the two hours that ensured once the five red lights went out.

The day started rather ominously for the Mercedes team, since both Red Bull and Ferrari  have lodged an official complaint against Rosberg’s team, since they admitted that Pirelli- the tyre manufacturers- had asked them to conduct a 1,000 km tyre test with the Mercedes cars, which they feel breached the FIA regulations. Hopefully, this incident will not detract from the excellent driving we witnessed from Nico, who has taken his second Grand Prix victory in style.

The race started off with the retirement of Caterham’s Charles Pic, who suffered a gearbox seizure which then caused the engine to set alight; thankfully a safety car was not needed. Meanwhile, many predicted that the race would be dominated once again by tyre degradation, but a red flag and two safety car periods wreaked havoc with the tyre strategists. Firstly, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was cruising along the home straight, but locked up and tapped the barrier, before sliding into another barrier at Sainte-Devote with significant force; Felipe was taken to hospital for a check up, and wasn’t badly injured, thankfully.

After the deployment of the safety car, Nico and Lewis Hamilton were first and second respectively, but although Nico pitted for fresh rubber and got away with his lead in tact, his team-mate fell back two places, and re-emerged from the pits behind Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in fourth. This was the final formation of the top four; Hamilton finished fourth and gets twelve points, Webber third with fifteen and Vettel second with eighteen points. However, the action did not stop there.

In French, the name for a Formula One driver is a “pilote”, and Pastor Maldonado took to the air literally in an incident with Marussia’s Max Chilton; after contact, part of the Williams driver’s front wing was sucked underneath the car, causing the vehicle to take flight and collide into the barriers at Tabac corner. The impact was sufficient enough to distort the barriers and a red flag was waved. This played beautifully into the hands of Paul Di Resta. The Force India driver qualifying in a terrible seventeenth place yesterday, but after pitting really early (probably anticipating a safety car after Pic’s retirement), the Scot was suffering with badly worn tyres. Red flag regulations decree that drivers may replace tyres before the restart, and Di Resta eventually finished ninth, and received two points. Who said you couldn’t make up positions in Monaco?

After restarting under the safety car, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was involved in yet another collision with a car upon exiting the tunnel, and careered into the back of Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, damaging the cars considerably, and causing debris to be strewn across the track, and this led to the third deployment of the safety car, which has made up for five grands prix without its invaluable service.

The final retirement was Sergio Perez. He had risked, and pulled off, some impressive overtaking manoeuvres in his McLaren car; he overtook Fernando Alonso at La Nouvelle Chicane, and because Alonso defended by cutting the corner, he decided to allow Perez to overtake him after the restart to avoid a penalty from the stewards. However, Perez’s glory was short lived, because he lost most of his front wing after colliding with Kimi Raikkönen, again at the end of the tunnel at La Nouvelle Chicane. Kimi pitted for fresh tyres, but Sergio managed to limp on, but unfortunately began losing control and had to crawl down the escape road at La Rascasse, just a couple of laps before the chequered flag. But, McLaren should be pleased with a competitive performance from both of their drivers- maybe this is a turning point? Monaco, though, does require completely different set-ups than the over Grands Prix on the calendar.

Adrian Sutil was propelled into fifth place after Perez retired, and earned a well deserved, and badly needed ten points after suffering some misfortunes and errors over the first few races this season. Jenson Button finished in a strong sixth place, and picks up eight points; Fernando Alonso finished seventh and receives six points. Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric- Vergne will be more than pleased with four points after finishing eighth, as will Kimi Raikkönen, who managed to make his way through the pack in the dying moments of the race to pick up a point in tenth. This is Kimi’s twenty-third consecutive point scoring finish, nearly beating the world record set by Michael Schumacher.

Nico Rosberg becomes the first son of a winning driver to achieve victory amidst the glitz, glamour, prestige and heritage associated with the world’s most  prestigious and most famous motor race, a feat that he should duly celebrate, and hopefully the threat of protest (which, at the time of writing, has yet to be resolved) will not detract from a truly amazing performance.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

In the Drivers’ Championships, Sebastian Vettel maintains his lead, and now has 107 points to his name, and he has increased his lead to 21 points, ahead of Kimi Raikkönen, who is second with 86 points. Alas, Fernando Alonso would have been hoping for a better result today, and he now lies third with 78 points, 16 ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who is fourth with 62 points. Mark Webber has now reclaimed fifth place, and holds 57 points. Felipe Massa’s trip to the hospital has meant that he has fallen from fifth to seventh- Nico Rosberg has climbed three to sixth place with 47 points. Massa has 45.

Paul Di Resta is eighth with 28 points, 2 ahead of Romain Grosjean in ninth, who is one point ahead of Jeson Button in tenth place with 25 points.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull have raced further ahead into the lead, and now have 164 points. Their nearest contenders are Ferrari, who have 123 points in second. Just 11 behind lie Lotus with 112 points, and Mercedes are in a comfortable fourth place with 109 points. A huge chasm has been forged between the teams now, since 65 points separate Mercedes and Force India, who are fifth with 44 points. McLaren are now chasing Force India more carefully now, with 37 points in sixth. Toro Rosso have entered double digits, with 12 points in seventh, ahead of Sauber in ninth with just 5 points to their name. Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but are yet to score.

I will be back in a fortnight when Formula One flies off to Montreal and the Canadian Grand Prix. Last year saw Lewis Hamilton take his first victory for McLaren last year, and he will be hoping to take his first Mercedes chequered flag, especially since his team-mate has had his first victory of the year in Monaco, but can he pull it off? Or, will the car succumb to that annoying gremlin that is the tyres? Find out in two weeks’ time.

Michael

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