Nico Rosberg claimed his second consecutive victory in the Monaco Grand Prix amid a tense atmosphere in the Mercedes team, after a mistake by Rosberg denied teammate Lewis Hamilton a shot at pole position.
Rosberg had already claimed pole position when it out-braked himself and had to take to the escape road at Mirabeau. Hamilton, lying second just 0.059 seconds behind had just started his last flying lap, but was forced to abandon it due to the yellow flags being shown after Rosberg’s off. Though a stewards inquiry deemed Rosberg had not done anything wrong, it was enough to drive a wedge between the Mercedes pair, who so far this season had been insisting they were the best of friends.
Rosberg led away from pole when the race got underway, followed by Hamilton and Vettel. A clash between the McLaren of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s Force India on the first lap meant the safety car deployed. When the race resumed on lap 4, Vettel immediately pulled out of the race with turbo failure.
The field jostled for position in the usual Monaco procession until lap 28 when Adrian Sutil crashed his Sauber exiting the tunnel, forcing the safety car to be deployed. Almost everybody pitted for fresh rubber straight away, but Mercedes did not call Hamilton in, potentially putting the Brit at a disadvantage. Frustration was vented over the radio…
Hamilton’s pace dropped off in the closing stages of the race, as he complained of something stuck in his eye. Despite his discomfort, he was able to hold off a concerted challenge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Rosberg took the chequered flag for his second victory of the season, over nine seconds clear of Hamilton, re-taking the championship lead in the process. Hamilton just squeaked into second from Ricciardo. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished a distant fourth, though he was at least on the lead lap; everyone from fifth-placed Nico Hulkenberg down had been passed by the leader at least once.
Jenson Button picked up points for sixth, saying it marked progession for the McLaren team. Felipe Massa finished a strong seventh for Williams, followed by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Jules Bianchi claimed Marussia’s first points in the team’s four-year history with ninth – he had finished eighth on the road but incurred a penalty. McLaren’s Kenneth Ericsson closed out the top ten.
Kimi Raikkonen had run in third until the first pit stops, but a puncture after contact with Max Chilton and an over-ambitious move on Magnussen that left both drivers stuck at the Loews hairpin and necessitated a new nose dropped him down to 12th at the flag.
The Formula 1 circus crosses the Atlantic for the next race in Montreal, Canada at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 8.