Webber conquers Monaco after epic battle and makes it six out of six
27 May, 2012
May 27 (Apex) Mark Webber powered to a controlled, impressive victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, to notch up his second triumph around the Monte Carlo streets in three years, secure Red Bull’s hat-trick and become a part of modern F1 history by becoming the sixth different driver to win the first six races of the 2012 Formula 1 world championship – an unprecedented statistic in the history of the sport.
The decisive moment came right at the very start. Webber simply blitzed off the line, and from then on gave a faultless performance throughout the 78 laps. He controlled the race with supreme discipline and for the last dozen laps handled intense pressure from a train of big hitters; Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa – all running virtually nose to tail, snaking through the streets in unison.
But the 35 year old Australian, who won at the venue in 2010, did not flinch and crossed the line to score his ninth Formula One victory and became the first Australian to win the Monaco GP twice.
Webber said afterwards, “I’m feeling incredible. It was an interesting race. It was reasonably straight forward at [the] start, getting the gap and managing [my] super-softs. Then it was matter of trying to get back into gap on track after the stops. The weather was threatening around the pit stop window but Nico went for it, went for undercut, so a few people had to react to his chess move.”
“The first phase of the race was strange. It was hard to get the soft prime tyre warmed up. Seb had his tyres in and wasn’t wearing them so he was coming back into the picture. I didn’t want him to get the magic 21 second gap and take the lead. It’s an amazing day for the team, myself and really happy to have won here again,” added Webber.
For Red Bull it was the third successive win at the world’s most famous F1 race and team principal Christian Horner was understandably delighted, “It was a very intense race. We weren’t sure if it was going to be one or two stops. Mark was very disciplined. He stretched it out and did what he needed to do. It was a tactical race and stressful race when the rain came.”
Adrian Newey, architect of all three wins, said, “We’ve had a great three years here. Mark drove flawlessly. The weather was a real concern, but he did a great job to do what he needed to do.”
Having an equally flawless race and also enjoying a fast start, but having to settle for second was Nico Rosberg whose Mercedes stalked the Red Bull all afternoon, waiting and ready to pounce at any point. But alas for the German the opportunity never arose despite intensive prodding. On any other day he probably would have triumphed as the Silver Arrows was in fine form around the narrow confines of the town where he grew up.
Rosberg reflected on his afternoon, “I got a good start, but so did Mark. It was a matter of tyre management. I was a bit surprised how strong we were in qualifying and in the race. We probably had the fastest car out there. We are making progress all the time. Unfortunately it didn’t come together perfectly – first would have been nice – but we are pleased with second place.”
Up next were the biggest ‘winners’ on the day – the pair who made up the most positions with Fernando Alonso finishing third after starting from fifth and Sebastian Vettel taking fourth place after starting from ninth.
With third place Alonso takes his points tally to 76 and becomes the championship leader by three points. The Ferrari driver escaped an early scare when he appeared to make contact as the field hurtled into Turn 1, the Spaniard also making a great start. But there was no discernible damage to the F2012.
Early on the Ferrari chased Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren until the first set of pit stops which saw Hamilton go in first upon which Alonso set a couple of ultra-fast sector times before peeling into the pits for his stop and emerging in third. From then on he had Vettel in his mirrors almost all the way until the end. Notably Vettel was one of a few drivers who opted to run the Soft (yellow band) tyre from the start which meant he ran the first stint longer than any of his main rivals, before bolting on the Super Softs.
Alonso commented, “The target was to try to finish in front of Sebastian and Lewis as they are with us in the championship. If you go race by race, you aim to finish ahead of different drivers. Now it is Mark. It will be interesting, as we are constantly developing the car and we are constantly surprised at every race. At the start I had contact with Grosjean so thought there was damage, but the car was fine. We took Hamilton at the stop with a perfect time and a perfect stop again, so well done to the team.”
Vettel, who dominated the championship last year to the point of boredom, had this to say, “The number of different winners is good for you [the public] but for us it’s very difficult to know what’s happening. Nevertheless, it’s a long year, it will be crucial to keep scoring points.”
If Alonso was lucky at the start, Romain Grosjean was unlucky – but perhaps the Frenchman made his own luck – or lack thereof, as he made a hash of his start, started drifting to the right to block the inside with a clear line emerging on his outside which he seemed to not see or just simply ignore, and squeezed himself into Alonso’s Ferrari, then veered left and was launched by Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes.
In the blink of an eye the Lotus rear suspension gave in and the car ended up stranded across Sainte Devote – race over. Bad memories of Australia and Malaysia came to mind.
Very disappointed, Grosjean did not have much to say immediately afterwards, “I’m very disappointed I wanted to finish the Grand Prix, but it was a terrible start and that was that.”
Of course avoiding action was required by the rest of the field and invariably they ran out of road, with some drivers taking evasive action by cutting the turn, while others opted to scatter around the stricken Lotus and surprisingly, most made it through, except for Kamui Kobayashi who was slammed into by Grosjean and bounced into the air off Jenson Button’s McLaren with the Sauber getting airborne and breaking it’s suspension on the spot. Six laps later Japan’s finest parked his bent C31.
Behind this double fracas, emerged the HRT of Pedro de la Rosa with a severely trashed back end and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado with a very broken front-end. No explanation required, as Maldonado’s torrid weekend came to a premature end. It was also an early shower for the hapless De la Rosa.
Lewis Hamilton started from third on the grid and will consider fifth place a disappointment, as by his own admission he had a good feeling about the weekend. But the feeling was good only for fifth, and by McLaren’s standards at the principality it was a paltry score after an awkward weekend.
In the race Hamilton showed strong early pace, managing to keep Rosberg and Webber in his sights. But as the tyres started to go off after the first stint, Alonso -then in fourth – sensed a weakness and attacked in the manner for which he is known and by the time Hamilton emerged from his stop it was in fifth place. Later on Vettel did pretty much the same thing. Thereafter the 2008 world champion could not do much about the two ahead of him – he now lies fourth in the championship standings.
“It wasn’t the best result, but this is motor racing. I really dislike going backwards, but we still go away with some points. There are many races ahead of us and we still need to keep pushing. My start was one of worst starts I’ve had in a long time. I don’t understand why it happens when two guys next to me and those behind us got perfect starts. I was fortunate not to get caught up in the crash. We do thousands of starts, it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Hamilton.
It was even worse for Jenson Button who had one of his worst showings ever at the Principality. All weekend the 2009 Monaco GP winner was struggling for real pace in the McLaren MP4-27 and never found any. He did not finish but was classified 16th. A strange image of the 2012 race was the silver McLaren unable to find a way to pass Heikki Kovalainen in the Caterham…
Button reflected, “If someone places their car well and has good exits its very difficult. That’s part of racing but it’s so frustrating when you are so much faster than the car in front. It’s just one of those things. It comes from a bad qualifying and being unlucky at the start. We were more prone to incidents. It was a tough afternoon but congratulations to Mark, he’s a good lad and it obviously livens up the championship. Hopefully we’ll have our day soon.”
Contrary to Button’s forgettable weekend, Felipe Massa enjoyed his best result of the year for Ferrari. Throughout the weekend he was always in touch with Alonso’s best around the streets of Monte Carlo, and in fact appeared to be held up by the Spaniard in the early stages of the race. A performance and points haul that will no doubt take some of the mounting pressure off Massa.
Staying out of trouble and scoring their best result (10 points) so far this season were the Force India duo – Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg – who managed to stay out of the mid-pack chaos to emerge seventh and eighth respectively. Fulfilling team owner Vijay Mallya’s wish of a double points scoop at Monaco – mission accomplished by his boys.
Biggest losers on the day were without doubt the Lotus pair, with pre-race favourite Romain Grosjean out of the race after 150 metres and Kimi Raikkonen finishing ninth after starting eighth on the grid with arguably the fastest cars at Monaco at their disposal. Questions have to be asked about Grosjean’s temperament and also the lack of preparedness by the team which crucially cost Raikkonen an entire 90 minute session at a circuit where track time is vital. There will much head shaking at Enstone as they consider their meagre two points haul from a weekend which promised so much.
Bruno Senna salvaged the final point for Williams, who thanks to Maldonado had a problem packed weekend a mere two weeks after their fine moment in Spain. They to will look at the weekend as a wasted opportunity, with Maldonado capable of running very fast on Thursday but imploding on Saturday and although Senna brought home a solitary point, it was hardly a live-wire performance by the Brazilian.
It was also a very disappointing day for Michael Schumacher who 24 hours earlier had set the fastest lap in qualifying, but was demoted to sixth on the grid thanks to his antics at the Spanish GP. The five time Monaco winner was never really in contention, as he was squeezed during the Grosjean incident and dropped a couple of positions. He never made much progress thereafter and around the 60 lap mark it was clear something was clearly amiss with the Mercedes and a few laps later the seven time world champion parked it. Another early shower.
Schumacher summed up his afternoon, “What can I say? It was simply a pity to end the race in this way. In any case, the fuel pressure problem had nothing to do with the incident at the start. But it made it doubly disappointing because I had secretly been hoping for a podium finish. I will take the boost from the high points of this weekend with me to Canada. The track should suit us and I’m hoping to have a normal, clean race.”
Next up Canada- seven from seven? Bring it on!
Subbed by AJN.
Monaco Grand Prix – Sunday, 27 May 2012
|1||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||78||Winner||1||25|
|2||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||78||+0.6 secs||2||18|
|3||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||78||+0.9 secs||5||15|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||78||+1.3 secs||9||12|
|5||4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||78||+4.1 secs||3||10|
|6||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||78||+6.1 secs||7||8|
|7||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||78||+41.5 secs||14||6|
|8||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||78||+42.5 secs||10||4|
|9||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||78||+44.0 secs||8||2|
|10||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||78||+44.5 secs||13||1|
|11||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||77||+1 Lap||23|
|12||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||77||+1 Lap||16|
|13||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||77||+1 Lap||17|
|14||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||77||+1 Lap||19|
|15||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||76||+2 Laps||22|
|16||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||70||+8 Laps||12|
|Ret||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||65||+13 Laps||15|
|Ret||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||64||+14 Laps||21|
|Ret||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||63||+15 Laps||6|
|Ret||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||5||Accident damage||11|
|Ret||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||0||Accident||20|
- Vettel: Drivers are not enjoying the races as much as they would like
- Last minute front wing delivery boost Red Bull in Monaco
- Hamilton says Vettel has it easy with fastest car
- Vettel: I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening lap
- Webber: I was probably just saving my tyres a bit too much
- Red Bull: A very positive team result
- Red Bull: A very strong team performance
- Red Bull: We’d like to be a little bit more competitive
- Vettel rebuffs claims that Monaco too unsafe for F1
- Alonso: Red Bull won too easily for years now it’s difficult for them to lose