Hello and welcome to Day 11 of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010, an extended mini-series from Sidepodcast. Each day, we're taking a closer look at the moments that shaped the 2010 F1 season, and for this we are in the jewel of the F1 crown. Day 11 - Mayhem in Monaco.
With two wins notched up already, Jenson Button was heading in to the Monaco GP weekend in a strong position - far better than we'd anticipated, as all money was on Hamilton leading that team from the very start of the year.
Before qualifying, some of the top teams complained about the fact that due to the nature of the circuit, plus the slow new entrants, the qualifying session could be dangerous when 24 cars hit the track to aim for a fast time. There were even proposals to split the qualifying sessions into two halves, but the FIA rejected these outright, and qualifying went ahead as normal.
It wasn't quite so normal for Fernando Alonso, who had crashed his car in the morning practice on Saturday. He'd only completed six laps, and hit the barriers heavily. The team did their best, but eventually had to concede that the damage to the Ferrari was too great, and Alonso couldn't take any part in qualifying. The team had to fix up the car, and the Spaniard would start the race from the pitlane.
For Button, qualifying was a difficult time, and the Brit only managed to secure 8th. Hamilton picked up 5th place, but it was another Red Bull pole position, with Mark Webber taking the top spot. Vettel was third, with an unexpected Robert Kubica between them.
The Renault driver couldn't hold the position for long, and as soon as the race began, Vettel had swept past for a provisional Red Bull 1-2. Hülkenberg crashed in the tunnel on the opening lap, which brought out the Safety Car. Fernando Alonso, stuck at the back of the field, took the opportunity to pit early, and started making his way up the order.
Button's weekend took a turn for the worse when he had to pull his McLaren to a halt on the pitlane exit. Further investigation showed that the retirement came about from an overheating engine - caused by a bung being left in one of his sidepods before he set off to the grid. That is the kind of embarrassing retirement a defending world champion doesn't need.
As the race unfolded, and Webber continued to lead, the retirements began to stack up. De la Rosa, Glock, Di Grassi and Kobayashi all had mechanic troubles. Rubens Barrichello hit a loose drain cover which wrecked his suspension. He climbed from the car, throwing his steering wheel out in frustration. A passing HRT ran over the errant wheel, dragging it with him further down the track. Because of the potential danger of a loose manhole cover, the Safety Car was brought out for the second time.
It came out one final time towards the very end of the race, when Trulli crashed into Chandhok. Both drivers were fine, but the Safety Car was still out on the final lap. It pulled out the way to allow Webber to cross the line and take the chequered flag. Post-race investigation showed that Schumacher had overtaken Alonso on that final lap, so he was given a 20 second penalty on his time. That allowed Fernando to move up to sixth place - a great effort considering he started from the pitlane.
That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. Red Bull have so far had a pretty strong performance throughout our season review, but something tells me that when we take a peek at Day 12, the tension will be rising. I will see you then!
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Filed under Mini Series
References Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello
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