Race Check-Up: A Rosbergian place?


Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time while Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel followed him to second place, and the prince of Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, finished third. What happened, really? And is Monte Carlo becoming a Rosbergian place?

Mercedes: Triple crown for Nico, an apology for Lewis

From the start of the race Lewis Hamilton had a comfortable lead up to 15 seconds till lap 64 when Max Verstappen had an accident and the safety car came out. With sixteen laps left to the race Mercedes called him into the pits and changed him onto fresher set of supersoft tyres, which made him join in third place post the pitstop. After rejoining the grid, Sebastian Vettel held him off post the safety car period, thus Nico Rosberg raced away with the win. The current win reduces Hamilton’s championship lead over his teammate to 10 points and 28 points over Vettel. The strategy blunder has embarrassed the reigning champions and the team apologized to Lewis both on team radio and post the race.

Ferrari: Podium for Seb, while Kimi’s qualifying struggle continues

For Sebastian Vettel, who started third on the grid, a second podium finish was an improvement. However, it was a struggle for Kimi Raikonnen as he qualified sixth and finished sixth. The Finn driver has been almost equal to Vettel in terms of race pace, but in qualifying there’s a huge time deficit and his best qualifying this season has been a fourth in Bahrain. During the race the Finn had to battle it out with Daniel Ricciardo, who made a controversial move on him costing a fifth place.

Red Bull Racing: Career best for Kvyat, fifth for Ricciardo

The Milton Keynes-based team had mentioned earlier in the season that they would have improvements on the car and iron out various issues by the Monaco GP, and so they did. Daniil Kvyat achieved his career best fourth place finish in the race followed by Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. The young Russian started behind his team mate in fifth, and made a move on Ricciardo into turn one in the start of the race. The 2013 GP3 champion put an end to a lot of critic from team bosses on his slow start in the season with his current performance.

Toro Rosso: Verstappen crashes, pitlane-to-points finish for Sainz

The freshest driver on the grid, Max Verstappen, had a high-speed crash with Romain Grosjean on Lap 64, and it was the turning point of the race. The Dutchman had come out from the pitlane on a new set of supersoft tyres, and tried to battle it out with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean for the 10th place. As they approached turn one at the St. Devote Corner of the circuit, Verstappen’s car clipped the wheel of Grosjean’s Lotus and crashed into the barriers nose-first. The Dutchman accused Grosjean for brake-testing him or braking too slowly at that corner, but the stewards have penalized him with a 5 place grid penalty in the next race after careful scrutiny of the incident. Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, started the race from the pitlane for missing an FIA weight check during qualifying and managed finishing in the 10th place. 

McLaren: First points finish

For Fernando Alonso, it was a retirement at lap 42 due to a gearbox failure, when the Spaniard was running ninth. However, team mate Jenson Button struggled to finish in 8th, scoring the team’s first points this season. If there hadn’t been a retirement for Alonso, the team could have had better results, maybe a double points finish, as the MP4-30 was in the most competitive form this time.

At a point in the season where Formula 1 has drawn flak for getting boring, and the strategy group is trying to bring in new rules, and GPDA taking fan opinion on the sport, the Verstappen and Grosjean accident did introduce an element of drama into the race. One does sympathize with Lewis for his lost victory, but the first 64 laps were boring without any action and excitement. It can’t be forgotten that Formula 1 is a high-octane sport, where the unpredictability and drama add excitement into the season, and grab interests of the audience. Hence this incident did make this race the first dramatic one since the start of the season.

Post Monaco the Champion standings still have Hamilton in the lead with 128 points, followed by Rosberg with 118 and Vettel with 98. In the Constructors’ standings, Mercedes leads with 242 points, followed by Ferrari with 158 and Williams with 81. However, Red Bull Racing team has picked up 22 points this time to elevate their total to 74. The most prestigious Grand Prix of the year proved to be the most promising as well.

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