Monday, 30 May 2011

Monaco Grand Prix - 29 May 2011

The drama for the Monaco Grand Prix started in Saturday's qualifying session, with Sauber's Sergio Perez crashing heavily on the tunnel exit, bringing a red flag to proceedings, and an ambulance to the tend to the young Mexican.

Fortunately, Perez suffered no major injuries, but due to concussion was unable to participate in the race.

As the race started, Alonso got another great start, moving up to third place ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber. As usual though, it was Sebastian Vettel who led the pack away, with McLaren's Jenson Button in second place.

Button pitted early, which lost him track position, but put in multiple fastest laps to keep him in the hunt.

As Vettel stopped for tyres, a rare mix up from the Red Bull mechanics meant they weren't ready to receive their driver - the electric blankets were still on the new tyres. The team admitted later that the intention had been for Vettel's car to be fitted with a set of super-soft (option) tyres, but instead the soft (prime) tyres had been fitted.
Button pitted again for a second set of tyres, at an unfortunate time, as the safety car came out shortly afterwards to remove Felipe Massa's car which had come to a stop just after the tunnel, after getting involved in an incident with Button's team mate, Hamilton. This meant that Vettel now once again had the lead of the race. However, it started to become clear that Vettel may be heading for the end of the race on his current set of tyres. It was expected that the primes could run a maximum of 45 laps, but with the mix-up in the pits, Vettel was going to have to get over 60 laps out of his tyres if he was going to get to the end of the race.

Alonso, in second but on fresher tyres, was slowly catching the leader. Button was further back still, but his tyres were the newest of the three, and was in turn catching the front two. It was setting up to be a very close finish to the race.

Meanwhile, back down the order, Paul di Resta and Lewis Hamilton had both been given drive through penalties for being too forceful whilst overtaking. Whilst Force India's Adrian Sutil, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Williams' Pastor Maldonado were all looking set to score some good points.

With just a handful of laps remaining, the three leaders caught a large group of midfield runners who were about to be lapped, with Hamilton at the back of the group.
The leaders managed to pass the cars with the help of the blue flags, and Hamilton tried to follow them through.
Sutil ran wide as Hamilton went to pass his good friend, and the German touched the unforgiving Monaco barrier, which caused his right-rear tyre to puncture. He sensibly drove over a chicane, to get off the racing line, but this appeared to distract Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who ran too deep into a corner, and his car mounted the back of Hamilton's McLaren. Alguersuari then ran into the barrier and was followed by the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.
The Spaniard was quickly out of his car, but Petrov wasn't, causing the safety car to appear, before the race was red flagged as the Russian was taken away in an ambulance.

Petrov is believed to be OK however, but he was reporting pain in his legs.

As the cars stopped on the grid as per red flag regulations, the mechanics were able to make amendments to the cars as required. This was great news for Vettel, who was able to have a new set of tyres fitted, and for Hamilton, who's rear wing had taken some damage after the collision with Alguersuari.

The race restarted behind the safety car, but as it peeled off into the pits, Vettel and Alonso appeared to catch Button sleeping, as he was much slower on the restart.
Hamilton lunged into an attempted pass on Pastor Maldonado into the first corner, but sent the rookie into the barrier and out of the race, losing the Williams team what would have been their best finish of the season.

Webber managed a daring pass on Kobayashi, as the race drew to a close, and Vettel took the top step of the podium once again, almost wrapping the Championship up after just six races.

Provisional Race Results:

1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull - Prediction 2nd
2. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - Prediction 5th
3. Jenson Button - McLaren - Prediction 4th
4. Mark Webber - Red Bull - Prediction 1st
5. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber - Prediction 10th
6. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - Prediction 6th
7. Adrian Sutil - Force India - Prediction 16th
8. Nick Heidfeld - Renault - Prediction 8th
9. Rubens Barrichello - Williams - Prediction 13th
10. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso - Prediction 11th
11. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - Prediction 7th
12. Paul di Resta - Force India - Prediction 17th
13. Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus - Prediction 22nd
14. Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus - Prediction 20th
15. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin - Prediction 23rd
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania - Prediction 19th
17. Narain Karthikeyan - Hispania - Prediction 24th
18. Pastor Maldonado - Williams - Prediction 18th
DNF Vitaly Petrov - Renault - Prediction 9th
DNF Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso - Prediction 12th
DNF Felipe Massa - Ferrari - Prediction 3rd
DNF Michael Schumacher - Mercedes - Prediction 15th
DNF Timo Glock - Virgin - Prediction 21st
DNS Sergio Perez - Sauber - Prediction 14th

Not too many correct predictions this week unfortunately. Primarily due to the high number of retirements that Monaco is so famous for.
The F1RP was helped by Pastor Maldonado being classified as a finisher despite retiring at the end of the race!
Best performer of the day has to be Adrian Sutil, who finished nine places above where he was predicted to finish!

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